Dating Interview: At Our Nerd Events You Don’t Need a Wingman to Meet People with Bathsheba Birman
Bathsheba Birman is the founder of the company, Nerds at Heart, one of the first companies to host dating events specifically tailored for nerds. Their mission is to “provide an online and offline community for sapiophiles (someone who is sexually attracted to intelligent people)” We interview her to find out more about what defines a nerd and how their events are differ from other dating events and mixers.
Tell us more about your company Nerds at Heart? Why did you start the company what were you hoping to do?
Nerds at Heart produces Dating for Nerds parties for smart singles in five cities: Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and the San Francisco Bay. Be on the lookout for us to expand to more cities and online social networking soon.
We started Nerds at Heart because we saw friends on the dating scene who weren’t meeting compatible matches and we wanted to create an environment where people could get to know each other in a less superficial way than the traditional club scene. Our inspiration was the relaxed vibe of hanging out with your friends playing games at home, but with the chance to meet new people.
You launched Nerds at Heart in 2006, but then later you started organizing Meetup events. Why did you guys decide to start using Meetup?
We have an in-house PR team and publicize our events heavily, so Meetup isn’t our primary outlet, but we love it because it’s such a good fit for developing a face to face community. We have Meetup groups in each of the five cities that we serve that total more than 4,000 members.
What’s unique about your events versus other companies or other Meetup groups?
Our mission is to host parties that are fun, witty and warm. Going to a dating event often requires being out of your comfort zone and we want attendees to feel that taking that step was honored, so our team works hard to design gatherings that are low-pressure, engaging and facilitate interaction throughout. Our hosts are also welcoming and take extra care to make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying themselves. Although our events make a fun girls’ or guys’ night out, we’ve set them up in a way that you can don’t need a wingman to meet people. We encourage a mix of ages, ethnicities and interests as well because diverse backgrounds make for great conversation. And if an attendee isn’t satisfied with their experience for any reason, the next event is on us.
Your focus is on the “nerd” community. How do you define nerd?
We let our attendees self define and the rule of thumb is “If you think you are, you probably are.” In our experience, being a nerd encompasses a broad range of activities, from computer programmers to librarians to anime fans to music geeks to comic book collectors to steampunks. The common denominator is being interested in what one attendee called “the life of the mind.” You can chat with others who have the same pastimes or meet someone with a profession or hobby you never heard of before, but wish you had.
Nerds have the stereotype of being more shy around strangers, do you find this to be true? At your events how do you increase interaction between guests?
Our attendees are smart, sweet and funny. There are sometimes socially awkward “Revenge of the Nerds” types and we consider them our brethren, but most attendees are regular people who just happen to value brains as much as beauty. The events are lively, sometimes even raucous, and you can hear laughter all the way through. Our guests are never left without something to do, either one on one or in groups, and we work hard to create engaging activities (think poetry magnet icebreakers or scratch and sniff trivia). Besides our yenta hosts, our attendees are also friendly and inclusive and there’s a strong sense of community in addition to the romantic connections.