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Bucknell student entrepreneur aims to revolutionize romance

Since the dawn of humankind, the mating ritual has included the awkward declaration of feelings to someone who may not share them.
Now a Bucknell University junior is developing a social media site that promises to revolutionize romance with a risk-free way to both declare and determine if the attraction is mutual. Bryan Richman and his partner, family friend JJ Augenbraun, are at work on SharedSpark,  billed as "a unique relationship platform that allows college students to escape the friend zone."
The site got a recent boost as first-place winner at the Bucknell Pitch Competition, garnering a $1,500 prize, a year of desk space at the Bucknell Entrepreneurs Incubator and guidance from the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center.  The partners are spending their prize money developing a prototype; a beta site is planned to launch at Bucknell next summer.
Conventional dating websites focus on meeting someone new; SharedSpark allows participants to explore romance with friends and acquaintances. Richman won't share too many specifics yet about how the site will work, but does say participants will use their real names. And he cites his recent survey of 235 Bucknell students. Ninety percent said they feel uncomfortable telling someone they are interested, 99% said they would prefer to know if their feelings were mutual and 53% said they would consider using a free website to tell them so.
"Everyone who goes to college has friends they find attractive, but they're not willing to reveal those feelings because they worry it will impair their relationship," says Richman.
Source: Bryan Richman, SharedSpark
Writer: Elise Vider
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