Lunch Actually: Can matchmaking become rocket science?

Lunch Actually founders Violet Lim & Jamie Lee.Lunch Actually founders Violet Lim and Jamie Lee, who fell in love over a lunch date. They are happily married with two children. (Source: Love Actually)

Online dating may already appear to have turned the search for love into a fully automated and algorithmic process, but for more-traditional matchmakers still using in-real-life meetings to craft a pairing, technology adoption can be slow.

That’s the message from Violet Lim, co-founder and CEO of Lunch Actually, which uses both a database and a consultancy service to walk clients through finding matches.

“Sometimes people will say to me, ‘matchmaking is not rocket science,'” Lim said at the H.E.R. Entrepreneur Asia Summit in Singapore on 2 October. “For centuries, our grandmothers have been doing it, our mothers have been doing it. However, I think right now with new technologies like blockchain and AI, there’s a lot more we can do.”

Lim said she expected blockchain, while still new, could help solve one of the biggest problems with online dating: Catfishing, or people pretending to be someone they aren’t, often with an intent to defraud. She pointed to a personal example of a friend, an entrepreneur in Malaysia, who struggled to contact a dating app to have a fake profile using his image and details removed.

She’s also looking to upgrade to meet the desires of Generation Z — or the generation born between 1995 and 2015.

“The difference between Gen Z and millennials is they no longer want to do anything. They want it to be just one click,” she said, noting that meant needing to find new ways to create online profiles without the work of entering details from scratch. That may include matching social media profiles, she said.

However, Lim noted that convincing employees to adopt and even embrace new technologies could be difficult, as her associates worried she might try to automate away their jobs.

“It’s important to share with them the vision,” Lim said, adding technological changes were really aimed at creating more time for “more meaningful” work.

“A lot of our associates’ time is spent on finding out when people are free so that we can arrange the date,” Lim said. “However the real value-add is really when they talk to the clients to find out from them how did the date go, what did they like about it, what did they not like about it. How can we streamline to make it even better.”

To be sure, Lim had some cautionary words about adopting technology too quickly, pointing to Lunch Actually’s effort to introduce video dating in 2007.

“People were not open to showing their face,” she said, adding the product was “too ahead of its time.” Now, however, live-streaming in match-making is popular, she said.

Lunch Actually was founded in Singapore in 2004, and has since expanded to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Thailand.

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