Adam, Eve & Amin
Interview with a pioneer in the internet
November 5, 2004
I first met Said (pronounced sa-eed) Amin about
six years ago at the Daily Grill in Washington DC.
and wanted to collaborate with iranian.com. It wasn't long before
I realized that he meant business. He knew what
and he was
going to get it. And he did. Today IranianPersonals,com is
by far the most professional and successful site of its kind.
And he has expanded to other
ethnic markets as well.
I did a
little email interview with him in the hope that he would share
some of his secrets to success. I know this will be seen as
free advertising for my biggest sponsor. But that was not my
when I asked Said for an interview. His influence
on the Iranian online community has been tremendous. He has
been instrumental in transforming the dating habits of a significant
segment of Iranians, and, more important than that,
he is one of the few who has developed a financially
successful Iranian site.
What triggered you to get into online personals business?
Do you remember the first day you thought of it?
Oh gosh, where to start *sigh* I am not a terribly good story
teller... Well, simply put I was unhappy with the ole' 9
to 5. The idea of being a lifetime corporate employee just was
terribly appealing. I tried to break away from corporate life (to
do what exactly, I didn't quite know) but loved ones reminded me
of how good I had it working for such a reputable company. *ugh*
Not quite what I wanted to hear, so off I went exploring something
that I knew they would accept and encourage me to pursue. Law school
baby! Umm, I ordered all the study books and felt ephemeral happiness
that my path, my "calling" was finally laid out ahead
of me. Alas, by page 8 of the LSAT prep book my excitement fizzled
and I was back to the drawing board *sigh*
One winter day in the year 2000 while surfing the Internet (*ahem* at work
of course), I stumbled into Iranian.com. The concept, content and geographic
reach of this netzine was just amazing. I mean, Iranians from all over the
world were writing in and accessing the site on a daily basis! *whoa* I had
never before seen such an effective and moving online Iranian community. This
was the first time that I really absorbed/appreciated the incredible reach
and effectiveness of the Internet as a medium to unite and inform people
(we all owe a BIG thank you to Jahanshah Javid for giving us such
an amazing forum!).
So, after several nights of concocting a strategy,
I hired a web designer named Michel
Soudee, who later became my partner,
to create an
Iranian portal. It
was called PersiansUnite.com and its mission was to promote Iranian culture
and Iranian American talent. The site's services included a calendar
of events, interviews, a store and a personals section where Iranian singles
Before you knew it, my mind was obsessing day and night on my newfound
hobby. Whatever "disposable
income" I had was going towards developing this little website that honestly
was big in ambition but short on time and funds. I quickly realized that
the Personals section of the site (later be known as IranianPersonals.com)
the best thing this portal had going for it. I saw it as an effective and
valuable tool that could connect people from all over the world and the
only piece of
the portal that I could sustain and grow given my time and financial constraints.
Long story short, I stopped working "for the man" in 2001 to pursue
the Personals industry full time. IranianPersonals.com / World
Singles were still in their infancy but I believed in my vision to just go for
let the chips fall where they may. For several years prior I searched
low for answers, talking to anyone and everyone for advice and a sense
of direction. It wasn't until I stopped looking outward for answers that
I finally paid attention to what my heart was yearning for
and realized that I could no longer ignore the obvious: being an entrepreneur
was always my raging spirit inside. All too often we choose careers
professional fields to make others happy. We look for repeat validation
that the road we desire to travel is the right one and we allow the fear of
failure to handicap us from pursuing our truest and purest passion(s). I
made myself a victim of this cycle for years and the decision to pursue my
own path, on my own terms was not an easy one, but at the end of the day
we all reap what we sow.
Has your dream come true? Have you set new goals?
While not quite a "dream" per se, my desire is to
continue to grow both professionally and personally. There is no
benchmark figure for the business that will one day make me say "Woohoo,
I made it!" As far as I see it, I've made it already
because I get to do something for a living that I am passionate
about. Granted, we all measure success differently but I get a
chuckle out of people who claim that they will finally be happy
when their personal net worth or company reaches some ungodly monetary
figure. My belief is that if you do not enjoy the process you are
missing the whole point of life. As long as I enjoy the journey
and challenge myself to grow professionally and as a man, life
As for the second part of the question, the goals today are the
same as they always were: to continuously improve the service that
we offer our members and to develop new features/services that
address people's needs.
This is a tricky question but I'm curious to know what
experience has taught you about Iranian dating habits? Have you
noticed any difference between people who choose to date online
and those who don't? What's unique about them?
Whoa, great question Jahanshah. Well, let me start by saying that I am no psychologist
but here's my 2 cents worth.
Dating? Yani chi? I thought that as Iranians we had to be engaged in order
to "date"? =) With more than 100,000 members on Iranian Personals,
it goes without saying that there are plenty of men/women meeting everyday
on and off the site. Now, if you ask many of those folks where or how they
met, chances are slim that many would attest to using IranianPersonals.com
or another Iranian singles or friendship site. They are "closet
users" as I affectionately like to call them. This taboo has already
changed in mainstream American culture where the online medium to meet people
is no longer frowned upon. This acceptance, albeit slower, is also occurring
in the Iranian community and in many of the other niches that World Singles
Is there a difference between people who choose to date online and those who
don't? Mmmm, not really. The people online are the same men and women whom you may
meet out in public. The truth is that the makeup of any singles site runs the
gamut. You have all types of people online. Good people, rude people, polite
people, CEOs, professionals, the insecure, introverts, extroverts, humble people,
shallow people, etc. The key is to use a site's search filters
to weed out those members that do not meet the criteria(s) that you are looking
for in a partner or friend.
Unlike most personals sites World Singles member profiles are some of the lengthiest
in the industry. Yes, it can be drag and time consuming to have to answer all
those darn questions we ask but knowledge is power. I feel that the more you
can read about a person's interests, opinions, lifestyle, and mannerisms
(how they express themselves on paper), and vice versa, the better one can
gauge potential compatibility and find a match.
What has been the most surprising (good/bad) aspects of
the personals industry?
The good includes the myriad of success stories that have come
from our members. We have heard of dozens of weddings (even people
that I know!) and countless testimonials from members thanking
us for helping them meet that special someone. As for the Personals
industry as a whole the real good news is that some 40 million
Americans visited personals/dating sites in August 2003, according
to a report published by The Online Publishers Association and
The bad? Well, it's a mix of bad and good but mostly a plus.
When we help people meet their significant other they often end
up no longer needing our services =)
What has impressed me most about your business has been
the way you have used professional marketing and advertising
tools, which is rare among Iranian businesses here in the U.S.
For instance your Iranian Personals commercial on MTV and on
other mainstream TV channels in southern California were brilliant,
I thought. Why do you put so much faith (and money) in high-end
Thank you for the kind words. I believe that advertising in main stream media
where there are large concentrations of Iranians sets us apart from the competition
and helps empower the Iranian American community as a whole. With all the hardship,
killing and perpetual negative spin about Middle Easterners, I felt that a
positive Farsi speaking ad (English subtitles) promoting love, relationships
and the right of women to choose their significant other is a win/win for the
Iranian American community and for IranianPersonals.com. From a business standpoint,
the word of mouth that occurred after we aired our commercial in several markets
was tremendous (see ad
and press release). I expect that we will continue our marketing efforts
in main stream media so keep your eyes and ears open for a new ad soon!