Julie Nashawaty was in a situation to many other singles living in Boston; she was trying out the online dating scene. After a string of bad dates, she met someone she clicked with.
However, this is where similarities to any run-of-the-mill dating story end. While he seemed to come off as genuine, it turns out this particular guy was hiding something from Nashawaty. “I remember thinking ‘I should do my due diligence on this one,’” she remembers, after spending a weekend chatting with this potential significant other. “I don’t know why, I felt something was off.”
In a bizarre turn of events, the man turned out to be a wanted criminal. “I saw a news alert that said ‘Brookline bank robber arrested,” she says. “And I was thinking, ‘That can’t be him!’” In addition to this new piece of information, the man was not only out on bail, but he was also engaged to be married before the arrest.
Nashawaty had enough of the stress involving online dating. This incident, along with a few of her friends sharing their own personal online dating horror stories, resulted in Nashawaty focusing her efforts on a service for singles who were in similar predicaments.
Despite online dating services being as popular and accessible as ever, there are recurring problems with it. eHarmony lets their users know more than half of those online will lie on their profiles. “Online dating has always had a weird stigma,” she says. “Before you got together with someone you like. But now it’s, ‘Good luck out there.’” This led her down the path of creating the service known as Aste.
Aste (pronounced ASSTT) is Nashawaty’s first company as an entrepreneur. Founded in November 2016, Aste is a service determined to cut out the negativity surrounding the online dating scene. It’s common to get an unsure feeling about a potential boyfriend or girlfriend through the Internet.
Nashawaty describes Aste as “your new sleuthy BFF.” Aste is a team of 20 freelance investigators, each researching about a certain online dating user. The investigators will find out information regarding a person’s actual age, occupation and, in a nod to Nashawaty’s own past, criminal history. “This is all human time,” Nashawaty says. “There are no algorithms here, because the client hires an actual person.” Many of the employees applied for the position on a post she made on Indeed.
Nashawaty did her research on services that will obtain information about sketchy users on dating websites. To differentiate themselves from other sources, Aste utilizes a one-time payment service and a short turnaround time. “We don’t offer a monthly subscription,” Nashawaty says. “But for 30 bucks and within 24 hours, we can give you a detailed report.”
Clients of the service noticed an interesting trend with their dates. At least 25% of Aste findings found many of the online dating users to be “catfishing” the clients.
On March 15th, Aste was rewarded with winning the grand prize at Mass Innovation Nights #96. For a company early in its lifespan, Nashwaty considers this a massive accomplishment. She has also recently applied for MassChallenge. Nashawaty has even connected with several other entrepreneurs and dating experts in the area. The goal is to create a network of like-minded people who just want to make dating smarter and safer for everyone.
Nashawaty will also be speaking at an upcoming panel named “Single In The City: Tips, Tricks and Strategies to Life, Love and Dating.”
The online dating world can be a scary place, especially when there are people willing to lie about their personal life. Aste is looking to change that for any nervous user. “Not only do we want to educate people about the online dating scene,” Nashawaty says. “We also want to be the person who truly cares about you, your sanity, and your safety.”