By Paul Liberatore The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) 34 year old Megan Buquen sees herself defining the role of the matchmaker. Buquen says, "This is kind of my calling...It's my passion, really. No matter how sophisticated algorithms become, they will never replace the human element."
The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.
How many single, well-to-do men in Marin County, Silicon Valley and other wealthy Bay Area enclaves would pay $15,000 or more for the chance to meet the woman of their dreams?
Quite a few, according to Executive Matchmakers, a new Marin-based firm that is believed to be the first and only match-making service exclusively for men of means.
"Our memberships start at $15,000 and go up from there," says Megan Buquen, the company's 34-year-old vice president. "We have a huge waiting list."
In business less than a year, the company is mining a rich vein of Northern California professional men -- CEOs, doctors, lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs. Most live in Marin County.
"But we've got a ton of techies in Silicon Valley," Buquen says. "It's unbelievable the demand down there."
A typical client is too busy for traditional online dating and is willing to pay Buquen and her staff to find a single woman who's right for him in the company's "Proprietary Black Book," a database with a growing number of what the firm describes as "the most beautiful, eligible and desirable single women in Northern California."
"The men we work with are looking for a committed relationship," Buquen says. "They aren't looking for a woman who's 30 years younger or for one-night stands. A lot of men who come to us are worried about gold diggers, and we're very good at making sure our women are not after their money. Our women are well educated, self-sufficient, and have as much going for them as the men. We're matching men with their equals, and they love that."
The agency has a team of scouts who fan out into the community looking for eligible women who fit this ideal profile at charity events, art openings, wine tastings, film festivals, high-end restaurants, tennis clubs and upscale gyms like Equinox and the Bay Club.
Prospective women are invited to fill out a profile and come into the company's Sausalito office for an interview.
"We also do a background check, and if we approve them, they can be matched with one of our bachelors," Buquen explains. The men pay. The women do not.
Do's and don'ts As part of their service, Buquen and her team of six women are available to coach the men on the do's and don'ts of dating.
One client was so clueless about the whole thing that Buquen's childhood friend, Vanessa Phillips, the firm's director of sales and communications, took him shopping for a new wardrobe, giving him a complete makeover.
"It was so much fun," Phillips says. "It's such a heartfelt service. And what's more meaningful than helping someone find love?"
The men don't even have to arrange the first date. The agency will do that for them, often at a nice restaurant.
"We always suggest dinner, and tell them to dress nicely," Buquen says. "The gentleman always pays. And we tell them, 'Don't talk about politics. And don't talk about exes."
As far as sex is concerned, clients are warned against sleeping with a woman until he has decided to become monogamous and is no longer dating anyone else.
After the first date, the participants are asked for feedback on how it went.
"If they like each other, we encourage a second date," Buquen says. "With our most recent clients, after one or two dates they're in relationships. When a client goes into a relationship, we put his membership on hold. That's the fun part."
Business acumen Red-haired, sociable and unmarried herself, Buquen comes from a family that has been in Marin for three generations. She graduated from Redwood High School in 2000 and has an MBA from Dominican University in global strategic management.
Discovering that she has a knack for helping people find love, she worked for a top upscale U.S. match-making firm before starting her own match-making agency in London, Match d'Amour. When it was merged with one of the big match-making firms in Europe, the Vida Consultancy, she returned to the United States to continue her career in what is sometimes called "the dating industry."
Her business partner in Executive Matchmakers is entrepreneur Charlee Brotherton, whom Buquen describes as "the most successful matchmaker in the world." Brotherton owns a network of 23 other match-making firms throughout the country.
Executive Matchmakers has access to the databases of those companies as well as the one Buquen is developing locally.
In becoming a matchmaker, Buquen has chosen a profession that dates back to the middle ages and has a colorful history in popular culture and entertainment. One of the longest matchmaking traditions, in Jewish communities in Eastern Europe and Russia, is famously portrayed in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof." And the animated Disney movie "Mulan" features a comic version of the matchmaker in Asian culture.
More recently, the reality TV series "The Millionaire Matchmaker," starring Patti Stanger, owner of the Beverly Hills-based "Millionaires Club," a dating service for wealthy Southern California singles, ran for eight seasons on Bravo.
Buquen sees herself defining the role of the Marin County matchmaker. "This is kind of my calling," she says. "It's my passion, really. No matter how sophisticated algorithms become, they will never replace the human element. Having someone who uses her humanity and intuition is priceless. So match-making is always going to be there. And, if anything, it's growing." ___ (c)2016 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at www.marinij.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.