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Matchmaking firm plays Cupid to wealthy singles

Lunch Actually chief executive Violet Lim at The St Regis, where she launched a premium dating service for wealthy singles. (PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES)

Publication Date : 25-07-2012


Dating firm Lunch Actually is on the expansion path and aiming for an elite niche in the market for those looking for love.

The firm, which has built up annual revenue to more than S$1 million (US$793,000) in eight years and head count to about 30, recently launched Lunch Actually Platinum.

Chief executive and founder Violet Lim, 32, told The Straits Times that the premium matchmaking service targets people earning more than S$500,000 (US$397,000) a year.

She expects to have just 10 to 15 clients in the first year, intending to pay each one a high level of attention, 'akin to private wealth banking'.

The service costs from S$5,000 to S$20,000 - as opposed to between S$1,000 and S$2,500 for Lunch Actually's normal matchmaking service.

It is just the latest string to Lim's bow.

She created online dating portal Eteract in 2007 and eSynchrony three years later, although most of the firm's revenue still comes from its offline dating business.

Lunch Actually has 30 staff across offices here, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Hong Kong, with an outlet in Jakarta opening later this year.

The firm has been increasing revenue by at least 20 per cent a year since it started in 2004 and Lim is eyeing revenue growth of 50 per cent this year.

It has been a heady ride since she traded in her cushy management associate job in Citibank in 2004 to start the firm with her boyfriend and now husband, Jamie Lee, using S$150,000 in start-up capital from their joint savings.

Lim was confident that there was untapped demand among her target group of busy professionals who did not have much time to date, as this was a common complaint among former colleagues.

But she found early on that Singaporeans were averse to using a matchmaking company.

"It didn't help that many people's perceptions of a matchmaker were an old lady with a fan and a mole, and considered it taboo to admit they'd even used a dating service," said Lim.

Witty marketing finally won the day and now Lim finds herself at the head of a frantically busy enterprise that means 10 days a month out of the country.

That also means having to ensure she spends quality time with her two children. She said: "When we are all home, we eat dinner together and we ban phones from being used at the dinner table.

"My family is an inspiration to me, to help singles find the kind of companionship and happiness that I myself have found."


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