THE path to love can be daunting at times, but like a modern day Cupid, serial entrepreneur Dr Sandra Palmer is seeking to provide a lifeline through the launch of her matchmaking business Soulmates.
Dr Palmer said she started this service-oriented business to meet the growing demand among successful single individuals to find their perfect match.
"It's a high-end boutique service for the accomplished, successful, highly educated individual who is very clear about what he/she wants in a mate and is very deliberate about that. This individual is not going to leave that extremely important decision up to chance and Soulmates caters to that need," she said.
The business is an exclusive "members only" club for those who don't mind getting a bit of help in finding love. Members are required to pay an annual US$200 application fee and in return are guaranteed 100 per cent confidentiality and privacy. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unlike many modern-day matchmaking companies, Dr Palmer explained that Soulmates does not publicise members' profile and photos in an online forum. Instead, a blueprint is created for each member and they are then matched against each other to determine compatibility.
"Once there is a blueprint match, what happens is that the gentleman makes the first call to the lady. So both persons would agree that 'yes, I think this person is a match', and once there is that mutual consent — because we don't share data and information among the members, it's strictly confidential — then the gentleman makes the first call and invites the lady out on a date," she said.
"We still want love to be traditional. Although we are approaching it in a very intelligent way, we still want to feel the traditional feelings which doesn't change irrespective of how you approach it," she added.
Dr Palmer said that persons don't often ask the tough questions when falling in love and sometimes things unfold later in the relationship that results in emotional hurt. As such, she believes that a third party company such as Soulmates is helpful in doing the necessary background checks. All members that sign up have to agree to background screening and character verification. They are also required to provide identification, proof of age, character references, police records, certificates, diplomas and degrees earned.
"We ask the tough questions and we do the quality assurance for you, so when we do the introduction we are sure that this person meets what your requirements are in a mate based on your soulmate blueprint and all that is left is for the sparks to fly," she said.
"What persons in this target market are most concerned about is their information being out there for their friends, family members, employees, persons who know them, to see, so they wouldn't date online for their profile and picture to be seen. They are very particular about themselves and about the information that gets out there and that's why it is so confidential and that is why the quality assurance has got to be so important," she explained.
She said the company's membership comprises persons both locally and internationally, but while every effort is made to ensure that both parties are who they say they are, only when the individuals meet can chemistry truly be determined. If it does not work out with one individual, then other matches are made until the ideal person is found, but at least the person's card would be laid out on the table before the two fall in love.
"Unfortunately, we try and find chemistry first and by the time we find out about the individual, we are heartbroken, because we set ourselves up for failure. We are saying, we need to treat love with more dignity than that. It is not only about how you feel," Dr Palmer asserted.
She said that for those persons who are not confident about their first dates, a dating coach is also brought on stream to help them feel comfortable and prepare them for what could possibly be the start of a life changing experience.
Dr Palmer believes that both men and women essentially want to find true love, no matter how successful they are. However, settling with the wrong person could result in financial ruin and heartaches.
"I think that love is one of the greatest investments that we make in a lifetime and it is not just a monetary investment, but it is time, it is emotions, it is the mental energy that goes into a love relationship and it is also an investment that shapes the rest of your life. It is said that the choice of a mate is one of, if not the most important decisions that an individual can make, because it can make or break you, and therefore I think we need to put in the effort and pay attention to it the way it should be," she said.
"We should respect that process, because when you think about all the other decisions in our life, we do think about it, we do spend time. If you are buying a car, a house, deciding which university you want to go to for your studies, you do spend time and you do the research," she asserted.
Soulmate is one of several businesses started by Dr Palmer who also lectures entrepreneurial and managerial economics courses at the University of the West Indies, University College of the Caribbean and the Northern Caribbean University. She has her doctorate in business administration from Nova South Eastern University in Florida.
"I am a student of life. All my combined experiences — personal, business, education and so on, I think they have prepared me for where I am right now," she said.
"This venture in particular is a deep passion, because I believe there has got to be a better way," she said.