Bethesda Matchmaker Launches Friend-Finding Service
Platform links lonely people in Washington region
Michelle Jacoby and her husband Rob Slattery of BFF Matchmaking.
Via BFF Matchmaker
Michelle Jacoby has united single people in the Washington region for the past decade, but now she’s turning her matchmaking powers toward friendship.
Jacoby and her husband, Rob Slattery, recently launched BFF Matchmaking, a strictly-platonic platform designed to join lonely residents. Customers are asked about their background, relationship status, hobbies and preferences for a companion, among other questions, and then Jacoby finds a friendly fit.
“I’m a compulsive connecter,” Jacoby said. “I’ve always connected people romantically and just decided to make a living doing it, now we really see the need for a way to facilitate friendships.”
For years, Jacoby’s DC Matchmaking clients have expressed difficulty finding companionship, in addition to romantic woes. For the past few years she’s matched some of these clients with each other and had ample success. Jacoby’s even connected some of her Bethesda neighbors, including matching a 72-year-old woman searching for a bridge group with a 92-year-old fellow card player.
Jacoby then decided to officially provide the service, emailing her DC Matchmaking client list offering free memberships to the new platform, and soon had more than 100 responses.
“I was expecting crickets, and I opened up my email and it blew up,” Jacoby said. “I realized this is something really necessary.”
BFF Matchmaking features four packages, beginning at $1,500 and going up to $3,500. The Best Friend package is the lowest priced, and provides five friend introductions within three months. Customers are connected through email and strongly encouraged to meet in person at least three times in the first month.
For another $500, Jacoby and her husband will coordinate and schedule the friend-dates, customers simply say what they want to do and the team takes it from there. The higher-priced packages come with additional friend introductions.
Jacoby conducts video interviews with all of her customers at the beginning of the process to get a sense of who they are and what they’re looking for in a friend.
There’s no money-back guarantee, as the clients are paying for the matchmaker’s expertise, time and effort, Jacoby said. She added they recommend meeting in-person multiple times to ensure clients are making an effort and prioritizing the potential friendship.
Jacoby declined to provide information about the company’s annual revenue.
Jacoby believes the platform is the first of its kind, and she’s in the process of trademarking the phrase Purely Platonic Matchmaking. She said there are applications hawking the concept, such as Bumble BFF, and offshoot of the location-based dating app, but those fail to provide hands-on assistance.
“The thing about the app, if no one in your city is signed up, or nobody really responds, then you don’t hear anything,” Jacoby said. “If somebody is working with us, we get to know them, and we make sure they end up with really cool friends.”
Loneliness is a widespread issue across the country, affecting citizens regardless of demographics. A May 2018 study from global insurance company Cigna, with market research firm Ipsos, found 46% of people sometimes or always feel alone. The study looked at more than 20,000 adults ages 18 and older using the 20-question UCLA Loneliness Scale.
Cigna found 20% of people rarely or never feel close to people, and only 53% of those surveyed reported having meaningful in-person social interactions on a daily basis.
“We’re seeing a lack of human connection,” Cigna President and CEO David M. Cordani said in a statement. “We must change this trend by reframing the conversation to be about ‘mental wellness’ and ‘vitality’ to speak to our mental-physical connection.
Jacoby said the BFF Matchmaking demographics are “pretty much everybody,” since loneliness affects all types of people. The process is easier than romantic matchmaking, as customers don’t have to be a perfect fit, they just need to be a good match.
Once the company establishes itself in the Washington region, Jacoby plans to expand to other bustling areas.
“No one should ever live in a busy city and walk down the street feeling completely alone,” Jacoby said.
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