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In the Age of Sheltering-in-place, Speed Dating on Long Island Goes Virtual

Entrepreneur forced to learn how to move his dating and event businesses online.

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Photo: Shutterstock

Finding your true love can be nearly impossible during the coronavirus crisis, and singles might be resigned to give up on any sort of social interaction with a potential mate for weeks, possibly months. That is what Jay Rosensweig was thinking as he contemplated the future of his speed dating business.


“My back was up against the wall,” he said. “Coronavirus obliterated all income from my business.”


Like many business owners, Rosensweig found himself in a bind. His business was completely reliant on face-to-face interaction but that was impossible in the current climate of social distancing. The problem: He had no idea how to convert his in-real-life business into something that might work virtually.


“I was a technology dinosaur,” he said. “I had no interest in learning about new stuff.”


That might have led to his initially slow response. At first, Rosensweig admitted that he didn’t think things would get this bad so he didn’t prepare for the worst.


“I was still in denial,” he said. “But once Broadway closed I said we’re in trouble. I woke up and said basically I have no choice here.”


So he did what any entrepreneur might do in this situation. He worked night and day to learn how to adapt his current business to a new model.


“I worked five days for 20 hours a day to move from in-person to online.”


Previously, Rosensweig’s website for singles-only,, was mostly a place to organize his speed dating and singles mingle events. Rosensweig held about eight dating events per month, mostly on Long Island, at venues in Jericho, Woodbury, Massapequa, and Huntington. He also held a few in New York City.


Now he found that he had to quickly revamp his entire business, harnessing technology to take his services completely online if he was going to save his company.


“I created a different version of speed dating,” said Rosensweig. “For many years it was the same, boy meets girl, girl meets boy and then they move along. I needed to come up with something that would work with the tools available to me.”


The backbone that makes it all work is Zoom, a video communications platform for conferencing, chat, and webinars. It’s a service whose popularity has boomed as companies adapt to employees forced to shelter-in-place and the closing of non-essential services.


He did beta testing and figured out the procedures. He just needed to answer one important question.


“Would it work?” he said. “It did!”


Rosensweig’s other business benefited from this new virtual venture. With he hosts group social gatherings across Long Island like his Friendly Feud game, comedy nights, and trivia nights at places like the Nutty Irishman in Farmingdale.


It’s been a little less than two weeks since he launched so he doesn’t have a lot of data to measure his success.


“It’s very, very new,” he said.


Despite that, early results and feedback have been encouraging. His first two events have sold out and he had 30 people sign up for his next Friendly Feud event.


“The situation is horrible but it forced me to be creative,” he said. “It changed my thought process completely.”


He even thinks there is a potential to make even more money with this new online platform while offering people who are shut-in at home a way to interact with strangers and have fun.


Eventually, though people will want real human interaction again. Rosensweig said he will go back to hosting real live events while continuing his online business.


“This will be over soon,” he said. “People will want to meet people again.”