Violet Lim and her husband Jamie Lee founded the first lunch dating agency in Singapore, Lunch Actually, back in 2004 when they realised that many eligible young professionals were simply too busy for love and dating. Lunch dating seemed to be the perfect solution – it only takes an hour, long enough to determine if you’re interested while providing a valid excuse for cutting painful dates short. In 2007, Lunch Actually established its online speed dating portal, Eteract, which allows members to purchase credits in order to chat with other members online.
Sim Yee: So why has Lunch Actually pushed out eSynchrony this year? Is it simply another online platform?
Violet: These initiatives actually serve different target customers. Lunch Actually provides premium services in which we would do all the work for our clients and they would just have to turn up and enjoy the date. Eteract helps us to capture the online market segment and allows members to access and meet new people at their own convenience. It is also priced on the lower end.
eSynchrony, however, fills the gap between these two. Members get to view matches suggested based on a compatibility matching and profiling completed online. They get to choose the matches they would like to date and the rest of the coordination would be left to us. In a way, it gives them the best of both worlds – choice and convenience.
Since matches are suggested based on compatibility matching, does it imply that clients only get to know people who are similar to themselves? But don’t they always say opposites attract?
By compatibility matching, we are mostly talking about the compatibility of values. For example, Jamie is more of an introvert while I’m an extrovert. We are different in that sense, but I believe basic values and beliefs should not be too different. If not, it’s more likely for a couple to have clashes which does more harm than good to their relationship.
What do you think are some of the key factors behind Lunch Actually’s success?
I would think that our branding and positioning is clear and unique at the start. Hence, we deliberately avoid using cliché words like “love” and “cupid” nor the typical colour symbolizing love, red. We also put up our ads on buses and major newspapers, conveying to clients that we are a credible agency. Another factor would be that I have a good team with complementary strengths. For example, I’m the creative person but I’m not a good finisher so it’s good that Jamie sees through whatever I’ve started. I think it’s also important for the business to keep innovating with time, with the changing customer trends and needs.
I understand that you’ve just published your first book, Lessons from 15,000 First Dates. What advice do you have for singles in search of love?
Yes, I feel that it’d be a crime not to share what I know with everyone so I’ve been giving seminars and workshops. More recently, I’ve written this book to try to debunk some dating myths and to my surprise, men love the book even though I wrote it for the women. It’s not a politically correct kind of book so it makes for a refreshing read.
As for advice, I would simply say this: Dating is a numbers game – the wider you cast your net, the higher the probability of meeting the one. Be proactive and make dating a priority. Also, let go of any emotional baggage from past relationships and be open to possibilities. Some women turn up for my events and leave after they’ve merely scanned the men present. I say, it’s no surprise that they’re still unattached! Don’t go strictly by your “perfect mate checklist” – anything is possible!