A Perfect Pairing

Melissa Brown, CEO of It’s Just Lunch, discusses how dating services have evolved and how her company’s personalized approach to matchmaking produces results.

Q: What drew you to the matchmaking business?

A: In high school and college, I played Cupid among my friends. Little did I know that I would be doing it professionally 10 years later. When I started working for It’s Just Lunch in 2004, I knew from personal experience that dating was often frustrating and time-consuming. IJL made me realize that it could be fun. I also saw how IJL had the power to positively impact lives. Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How have dating services evolved since you became CEO in 2014?  

At first, everyone was turning to online dating, but now the trend has reversed—largely, I think, because apps have gamified the dating experience. Many of our potential clients express frustration over how they’re spending hours swiping and “winking,” or having online conversations that lead nowhere. That’s where personalized matchmaking comes in.

“There aren’t a lot of jobs out there that provide this sense of fulfillment.”

— Melissa Brown | CEO, It’s Just Lunch

What sets IJL apart? 

Our clients work with a matchmaker, and we handpick their matches. Instead of using algorithms, our matchmakers conduct interviews with potential dates beforehand. Then the matchmaker coordinates the details for a casual, stress-free date by setting up lunch or drinks. Clients work with their matchmaker throughout the process and regularly provide feedback on their experiences. We also guarantee dates and have created some fun dating opportunities. One of our franchisees had the idea to do a chairlift matchmaking event that matched singles for a chairlift ride. When they got to the top of the hill, they decided whether they were compatible. They could ski down together or go their separate ways. We’re looking at doing something similar with golfing and also exploring travel-themed dating ideas.

Any dating advice you want to pass along? 

Be open to meeting people you might not normally consider. Sometimes clients have in their mind what their perfect match should look like, but then they start putting things on paper and realize that isn’t the type of person they want after all. When you’re open-minded, you’re more likely to find the one. 

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Photography by iStock/gradyreese

Originally Published June 2019