Computerized matchmaking has gone into business. Once the last resort of the lovelorn, high-technology partner searches are now the rage in fields as diverse as car-buying and psychotherapy. There is nothing like a new twist on an old idea to open up the doors of opportunity for enterprising souls. Here is a small sampling of these new-age services.
A good business is hard to find. That is if you are looking for your little cash cow the old-fashioned way. Lots of modern business brokerages are now sending out their mating calls through computers. Structured Approaches Inc., of New York City, for example, sets up brokerages that will note your preferences for an ideal venture -- let's say light manufacturing in a metropolitan setting and no outstanding long-term debt. Before you can say "Presto CEO! " its computer will spew out its closest match. Fees for this friendly gesture are paid by company sellers. The service makes buying a business almost as easy as mail-order shopping.
Heart like a wheel. If you have set your cap for a 1983 red Mustang convertible with a white interior and four-on-the-floor but you can't seem to find this vision of loveliness, Data Search of La Grange, N.Y., can help. It will poke through its databank to search out this heartthrob -- providing it is in New York -- and find you a car you can take home to mother.
Sugar shack. Although it is true that money can't buy love, it can buy a little cottage in the country, and that is where CompuFund Inc. steps in. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company is set up to hunt out the best deals on California mortgages. Prospective home-buyers work through realtors who gather basic financial information on them. This is fed into CompuFund's bit-cruncher, which combs the coast to find the best financing package for the buyer's income bracket. No more need to beg, cajole, and generally beat the bushes for weeks in search of an affable loan officer. Or is that half the fun of buying a house?
Work Processor. TeleJob is a computerized help-wanted service for companies in and around Massachusetts. Candidates simply call TeleJob and recite their qualifications to a representative. The company's computer searches its files covering Boston's Route 128 and beyond to team applicants up with the right company. All at the employer's expense. It is cheaper than typing a resume.
What have you got in mind? Keeping one step ahead of the competition, Therapist Preview in Silver Spring, Md., has adopted yet another high-tech matchmaking service: video introductions. For a starting fee of $100, mental-health specialist Sharon Arkin will help match you with the therapist of your dreams. She first interviews clients to determine their own preferences and prejudices, and then shows them a series of videotapes of qualified counselors answering such questions as "What constitutes a good life?" So far, Arkin has recorded 70 therapists in the Washington, D.C., area who are eager for scrutinization. And you won't even have to buy dinner for the therapist of your choice.