Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with Viola.AI CEO & Co-Founder Violet Lim

Viola.AI CEO Interview Violet Lim

Viola.AI is dating and relationship service that is powered by powerful AI tools and a cross-platform cryptocurrency (based on an ERC-20 token).

Using cryptocurrency, smart contracts, unique social media identification and artificial intelligence, the service is clearly on the front line of online-dating. In fact, the Asian company behind Viola.AI has already launched a more conventional international dating service with a great deal of success.

Viola.AI creates a much more secure, interactive place to meet, talk, but also begin to participate in the non-cyber world. For example, a matched couple will be able to use cryptocurrency to pay for services they might need in the process of dating. Like roses, or chocolate or the wedding dress, for sure. But also couples counseling and other expert advice.

The idea, essentially, is to bring like-minded people together using AI tools and help keep them together by also creating a secure, monetized interface that will encourage that couple to thrive.

Here is how it works. Users sign up to the platform. Their identity is verified through facial identification, including via their social media profile.

They can then use the system cryptocurrency to pay for membership services and other community-linked goods and opportunities. The entire ecosystem of dating, in other words, is found on one platform.

We recently sat down with Violet Lim, the CEO and Co-Founder of Viola.AI to have a chat with her about the project as well as finding out his thoughts and insights.

viola.ai logo

Hi, Violet. Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us more about yourself and Viola.AI?

Hi! I am Violet, and I am the CEO & Co-founder of Viola.AI as well as Lunch Actually Group. I am also a certified matchmaker and have been running my dating company with my husband Jamie since 2004.

Like most people out there, my childhood dream is NOT to be a matchmaker. Far from it, really. Like most Asian children, I was groomed by my parents to study hard, get a good job and go to a good university. This was what I did, being the obedient daughter.

The World’s Most Effective Dating Solution

I read Law at the University of Manchester and subsequently, I did my Masters in Personnel Management at the London School of Economics. However, during my summer attachments at a law firm, I discovered that as much as I love the law, it was not my calling. My first job was with Citigroup Singapore as a Management Associate, and that was where I first got the inspiration of starting a dating agency, as I had so many single colleagues.

As an MA (Management Associate) at Citigroup, I get to work in many different departments and met many people. I observed that many of my colleagues were single and not dating. That was rather puzzling for me as they were attractive and eligible people.

I soon realized that it is because they were working really long hours, they were virtually married to the bank. When I came across the concept of lunch dating, I was immediately attracted to the idea because I felt that lunch was ‘short, sweet and simple’ — it is long enough for you to get to know someone, yet it was not too long that it would become awkward.

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Having always been passionate about helping people, I decided to quit my job at the bank and start a new career as a modern-day matchmaker, where the business is not just about making money but helping to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them find their life-long happiness. And that’s how Lunch Actually started 13+ years ago.

The concept for Viola.AI came to us about 2 years ago. We have witnessed the many challenges that singles and couples face after being in this industry for the last 13+ years. We knew that we need to do something to drastically transform the love industry.

Viola.AI is The World’s First A.I-driven Marketplace for Dating and Relationships. Harnessing on Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and trustless Smart Contracts, Viola.AI is set to revolutionize the dating and relationship space in the world.

The AI that we are building would:

  • evolve from dating, couple-hood to marriage and ensuring that we would always serve our users to the best of our ability throughout.
  • verify each and everyone person in the database to ensure they are real and actually look like their photos.
  • help people find love, help romance blossom, and sustain the relationship right till their twilight years.
  • transform billions of relationships worldwide.

First off, why did you decide to use the blockchain in building Viola.AI? What was your thought process behind it?

It is necessary for us to have our own token on blockchain.

      Firstly, VIOLA tokens are both a community and utility token. How powerful your AI is based on how accurate and sufficient your data is. With VIOLA token (rather another crypto like BTC etc), they can be used as rewards (frictionless versus using gas) to users who contribute content, responses, and data for Viola.AI accuracy.
      Secondly, hashing the results on the REAL-ID onto the blockchain and decentralizing the personalization and encryption onto the devices ensure that even if there is a hack or security breach, all the sensitive and private data on a person’s relationship and personal life are still protected and encrypted.
      Thirdly, the Ethereum Smart Contracts ensure that all rewards, revenues shares, and referral commission % paid to merchants, partners and the community contributions to AI are kept as promised going forward and is trustless, increasing the desirability of coming onto the Viola.AI marketplace and helping with growth.

viola-AI world's smartest Love-AIer size-full wp-image-4482″ />

Tell us about how you came up with the idea of Viola. Did you face a problem within the industry or do you think there is a gap in the market for Viola to fill?

13 years ago, the two of us, bright-eyed young adults in their 20’s brimming with idealism and enthusiasm, took our first steps into the love industry not really knowing how it works.

In the first few years, we took on clients and worked hard to find matches and arrange dates. Some found someone through other means and left us. Some didn’t find someone and left us. Most interestingly, some found their life partners through us; they too left us! That was when the harsh reality hit us… in the dating industry, the more effective you are, the better your matches are, the faster your best clients leave you.

Nevertheless, we believed that in the long run, our happy clients would be our greatest testimonials and they will recommend new clients to us. We stuck to our mission which was to be “The World’s Most Effective Dating Solution”. We kept up with times and technological advances and created multiple dating products, some free and for all budgets.

The reality is in the dating industry, there are 2 common forms of catfishing.

  • One is by the love scammer whose aim is to use texting to make you fall in love, and once you are hooked, extract as much money as possible from you via various means. These creeps even have a list of victims that are most likely to be scammed, and they share the list with one another to spread the cruelty of what they are doing.
  • The second form of catfishing is actually by some dating app owners themselves! Sending fake messages from attractive profiles they know you will like which helps to secure a new subscriber or renew an existing one. This is actually an industry dirty secret. A simple internet search will reveal some of the companies that got caught, including the infamous Ashley Madison hack which revealed there were almost no women in the database.

True to our mission, we have never engaged in such practices, even though from an economic standpoint, we understand why it was done. With the need to constantly acquire new users (with expensive marketing spend) who will certainly leave you eventually, the aim of many of these companies is to earn as much money as possible even when no value is added to the end user. Disadvantaged because we refused to go down the slippery slope, this often kept us up at night.

viola.ai ico dating blockchain

The conceptualization of Viola.AI came after being in the industry for the past 13 years, understanding the various challenges singles and couples face. We intuitively knew something has to change!

Viola.AI would be open source and decentralized, harnessing the power of AI and the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum Smart Contracts would enable the community to enjoy the fruits of their contributions to Viola.AI via smart contracts automatically rewarding VIOLA tokens, spreading the financial benefits to the many rather than being left in the hands of a few.

A.I. technology often has a bad reputation; slated to putting millions of people out of job and potentially creating chaos. We are convicted that A.I. technology can be channeled to create love and promote better understanding of relationships.

The A.I. we are building would verify each and every one person in the database to ensure they are real and actually look like their photos helping reduce or eliminate catfishing.

And another gap that we’re going to be solving with Viola.AI is the ability to serve our customer throughout their lifetime, regardless of their relationship status. This is something that no other platform has been able to do. The A.I. that we are building evolves from dating, couple-hood to marriage and ensuring that we would always serve our users to the best of our ability throughout, helping people find love, helping romance blossom, and helping sustain the relationship right till their twilight years.

Editors Pick: Viola.AI ICO

What do you think is the biggest problem Viola.AI will solve and why is the problem important to solve?

The dating industry has grown tremendously in the last decade with the rise of technology and emergence of mobile dating services. However, there are still many problems faced by singles that are yet to be tackled. Some of these problems are:

  • Love scams worldwide. In the US, the reported losses from online love scams exceeded $230 million, but the FBI estimated that only about 15 percent of these crimes are being reported.
  • Online dating fatigue. 61% singles in the US stated that the swiping culture and chatting has negatively impacted their ability to have a meaningful face to face conversations.
  • Abuse of User’s Data and Poor Security. With limited repeat business and the high cost of acquiring new leads, many dating apps or online dating services have gone rogue and resorted to using bots and fake accounts to maximize on their monetization strategy.
  • Security is another big problem which have caused more breach of single’s personal data in recent years. With 1.5 million annual cyber-attacks, online crime is a real and pressing threat faced by all dating services.
  • Increasing dating and relationship challenges. More marriages are failing worldwide than ever before. In the US and Europe, the divorce rates range from 53% to as high as 70%.

Viola.AI is our solution.

viola-ai marketplace dating

Viola has a unique KYC process for identifying users. Can you explain a bit about this?

I believe you’re referring to our Real ID Verification process? We ensure that each user that joins Viola.AI is real. Each user’s photo is checked against their social media accounts and real-time face scan to verify their identity; this process is then decentralized and stored on the Blockchain. Viola.AI will also employ end-to-end encryption to protect its users from any threat from cybercriminals.
Love scamming is a real and pressing threat faced by all dating services, which will be solved by our Real-ID verification.

In the whitepaper, you talk a lot about how your service is not “just” about allowing people to meet each other, but to encourage the right matches to stay together, including even the use of couples counseling. That is an interesting reach for a dating service. Do you really think people will turn to a matching service for professional services like therapy?

Yes, actually Viola.AI extends beyond just dating, and for that, we are not just in the dating industry. We are in the love industry – which includes dating, education, gifts and dating & romance related expenses.

Viola.AI will be a lifetime relationship advisor who can evolve her role as a matchmaker, to a relationship or marriage advisor based on the user’s status.

And yes, we believe that people will use this service because most often, couples only go to a marriage counselor when it’s too late and their problems have persisted for too long. And why couples don’t seek help earlier, is because there is still a stigma that marriage is between the couple and should not involve a third party. There is also the concern of confidentiality and the high cost of engaging a professional service. With Viola.AI – all these problems are solved, and as Viola.AI will constantly remind and nurture the couple’s relationships, problems could be detected earlier before they become too serious. She can even prompt users before each relationship milestones so that couples can be more pro-active (rather than reactive) to continue nurturing their relationship.

viola.ai infographic

Regulation-wise, do you foresee any hurdles? Including verifying the age of people participating – internationally?

For our ICO, we don’t foresee any hurdles. Since VIOLA token is a utility token, there is no restriction on any countries.

We do require some forms of KYC for all our supporters who participate in our ICO. This is part of the regulation in Singapore since we are based here, and thus, need to adhere to these guidelines.

Let’s talk about the kinds of services, besides couples counseling, that you want to integrate into the platform into the future, and what do you offer now?

Currently, with our existing services, we mainly cater to singles. These current products that we already have, contribute to the 1.1 billion sets of data points that we will use to train and build Viola.AI.

For the current services, aside from date services like providing compatible dates, arranging dates for our users and getting date feedback, we also help with second date coordination, gift arrangement, date and image coaching.

But Viola.AI is something huge that can really expand the services that singles and couples would need, such as (and not limited to): giving date and relationship advice, proposal ideas, conflict management, curating suitable activities for couples, performing relationship health check and giving suggestions, reminding special anniversaries and milestones, to family planning and more.

viola.ai app

What’s something that you believed to be true for a long time until you found out that you were wrong, or if you don’t like that dichotomy of right versus wrong, what’s something significant that you really changed your mind about over time?

Thought long and hard about this question, and realized that I could not come up with anything. Perhaps the reason for that is – I am a decisive person who makes quick decision based on available data as well as my instincts; yet I am also always open to different opinions and inputs. I am flexible and adaptable, and if along the way, I realized that I can make a better decision based on the new information received, I am willing to adapt and adjust accordingly. I do not see a point for holding out just based on principle or ego.

What has been your happiest moment so far working on Viola.AI? On the flipside, what has been the most painful, or perhaps the most regretful decision you’ve made with Viola.AI?

The happiest moment is really to work alongside my team. Whenever someone asks us, who is our ICO consultant, or who did we hire, they’re always very surprised to know that Viola.AI team is made up from the best people from Lunch Actually Group. We function as a start-up unit and we’re all extremely hardworking and motivated to make this project successful. Even though we have had challenges, we are fast to adapt and correct our mistakes.

There is no painful decision. Honestly, I am someone who prefers to look forward rather than look back. I’m focused on Viola.AI and I look forward to what the future brings – achieving our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of 1 million happy marriages through the works of Lunch Actually Group, and of course, Viola.AI!

viola-ai Meetup session

Is Viola.AI already working with notable businesses or firms? Are there any future partnerships in process? If yes, can you explain briefly about it?

Yes, one of the major partnerships that we announced recently was our partnership with ‘Matchmaking Institute’ to bring thousands of trained dating experts from 46 countries onboard Viola.AI.

One of the key features of Viola.AI is Community Crowd Wisdom. Viola.AI works with its community to generate dating and relationship content for every user based on their relationship stage. Through this collaboration with Matchmaking Institute, users can gain access to the matchmaking experts and professionals to ask questions, recommendations and even request for their service, wherever they are in the world. Having thousands of matchmakers and relationship experts from over 46 countries also enable the matchmakers to offer their relevant dating services to the users in the same country.

Tell us more about VIOLA. What is its function on the platform and what can token-holders expect from it in the future?

VIOLA is a utility token that can be used in many ways within the Viola.AI ecosystem, including:

  • Payment for good and services for singles and couples
  • Advertising fee payment by merchants and experts
  • Community rewards for good advice or content posted by users in the community
  • Referral commission to incentivize growth
  • Gamification rewards

What do you think is the biggest challenge or obstacle Viola.AI will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?

The biggest challenge I think will be to train our A.I to be the smartest A.I – who can understand users from a different background, age group, countries, culture, etc so that she will be able to serve those users best.

This is why our community crowd wisdom will be very important. The more users interact by giving good advice, suggestions, and content, and the more experts and coaches join the community as well, the more Viola.AI can actually use these content to train herself.

viola-AI world's smartest Love-AI

Moving on to more personal stuff, what does a typical day in your life look like?

There is never just a ‘typical’ day at work – when I am in Singapore, I always set a few days of the week for internal and external meetings. I do product and country meetings, meet my team leaders one-to-one, or with external partners, media, and collaborators. The other days, I would focus on actually sitting down, strategizing and planning, checking and replying emails etc. I also travel to all our branches on a quarterly basis for our meet-the-CEO townhalls where all associates can ask me any questions they might have about the company. One of my passions is sharing what I have learned to help others benefit from my knowledge rather than having to make the same mistakes that I have – hence, I share regularly at workshops, seminars, and conferences or even with students who are doing their projects on the topic of dating and relationships. There’s never a boring day at work!

My weekends are not exciting and definitely not filled with novel activities. And maybe that is the reason why in the sea of busyness of running a fast-growing dating business, I often look forward to my weekends, which I always reserve for family: my husband and 2 young children, Corum and Cara. These family weekend rituals and routines are my anchors, and these special memories created will always bond us together.

Can you express one personal opinion of yours about the blockchain? It doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive, we just want to hear your thoughts on it.

I’m an advocate of technology, and I think that in order for every business to stay ahead, we need to keep innovating and be in the forefront of technology. I really believe that blockchain has the potential to shake up all industries – and that’s why we are the world’s first blockchain-based project in the love industry. Leveraging on blockchain technology, I believe we are able to solve one of the biggest issues we have in the love industry which is “trust” – and this would be the key to building a better dating and relationship industry as a whole.

viola.ai team

Finally, what other personal goals (besides your career) do you have in life? Is there anything else in life you want to achieve? What is it like being a woman working in blockchain?

To me personally, even though we already have two school-going children, Jamie and I have always wanted more children. So, God-willing, we would love to have a third child in the near future. Having benefited from many mentors who have been so generous with their time and advice throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I would also want to be able to pay it forward by mentoring young aspiring female entrepreneurs. And last but not least, I have always love to teach and to inspire. One day, I hope to be able to either start a school, or run a school, or fund a school that would bring out the best in every child and inspires every child to live up to their fullest potential.

That concludes our Interview with Violet Lim

More Interviews to come

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