Jasbina Ahluwalia, Founder, Intersections Matchmaking
As a second-generation professional Indian-American raised in the US, Jasbina Ahluwalia had an understanding of the successful blending of the Indian and American cultures, and of the need for someone in the South Asian community who could identify, face and deal with the challenges posed by professional, social, and personal lives. It was this understanding that led to the foundation of Intersections Matchmaking, the first elite, personalised matchmaking firm which focuses on selective South Asian singles in the US. Established in 2007, the matchmaking firm (not online) has its network across the US in San Francisco/Bay Area, Washington DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago & NYC.
Prior to becoming a certified matchmaker, Ahluwalia practiced law in San Francisco and Chicago. She later earned her matchmaking certificate from the Matchmaking Institute based in Manhattan. Apart from this, she has also done her BA and MA in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, and earned her J.D. from the Michigan Law School.
A personal consultation, which lasts for around 1.5-2.0 hours, is the first step to becoming a client. The firm then starts active search and extends priority status to the client for possible introductions. “I do a comprehensive personal consultation with each client to understand their needs and paradigms regarding a relationship. On the basis of what I learn, I contemplate if we can offer a proactive search plan. Once the introduction round is over, there is an extensive feedback process,” explained Ahluwalia.
One of the biggest challenges the company still faces is to educate the South Asian community that spending on finding a right partner is an investment far more profitable than spending on arranging lavish engagement and wedding ceremonies. When asked about the biggest mistake she made as an amateur entrepreneur, Ahluwalia said, “Spending valuable time with clients who did not value my time.”
“When I was a practicing attorney and was looking for a life partner for myself, I realised that it would have been nice to have a service that could help me find one, while I juggle between the demands of my personal and professional life. Finding a life partner is an issue, especially among the young professionals from South Asian backgrounds, whose cultures discourage early dating. I looked around and noticed that there was a great demand among the South Asian professionals for an elite personalised matchmaking service, but unfortunately there was none,” she said while talking about what inspired her to set up the firm.
The fact that the firm is fulfilling an untapped opportunity in the society is by far one of the primary reasons for the company’s success.
As for the seed capital, Ahluwalia had it arranged from her own pockets. She believe that if one wishes to embark on an entrepreneurial venture, one must have their finances in shape since only that can assure services or products of the highest quality. Besides, who would want the delivery of their service or products to get delayed because of financial crisis?
The fact that the company procured a fairly good growth even in the initial years of its set up is by far its biggest achievement. For Ahluwalia, her work has been her passion; not even for once did she think of giving up her entrepreneurial venture. Besides, the drive to create a service of extremely high value helps her stay buckled on to her roller coaster ride. “I always wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial venture that is in sync with my values and principles,” she said.
Tips for budding entrepreneurs — Do what you enjoy doing and see how you can add value to it.