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Hooking Up India Online From speed dating to match making, Indian apps are offering a quick social fix

By Punita Sabharwal

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Targeting young singles who are looking for meaningful relationships has turned into business opportunity for many. A bunch of entrepreneurs has emerged who are finding a niche between casual dating apps and typical matrimonial sites through their apps. These entrepreneurs claim to let you find love based on your interest and the way you want it.

Ditching Filtering

(Sumesh Menon, Co-founder & CEO, Woo)
Filling the gap – between casual fling-oriented dating apps and old-fashioned matrimonial portals – as urban singles are increasingly realizing it takes a lot more – common lifestyles, interests and vision for life – that helps one to identify a life partner, Woo was launched. Sharing his start-up story, Sumesh Menon, Co-founder and CEO, Woo, says, "Woo is a project that my co-founder Ankit Nautiyal and I had worked on for about two years with lots of extensive consumer research and iterations. In our increasingly isolated lives, finding the person you want to spend your life with is becoming
a challenge, and Woo is committed to solving that human problem." A safe and secured platform for users to meet people like themselves – urban singles who share their interests, have similar career aspirations and passions is the idea behind Woo. Woo is a mobile matchmaking app for urban singles looking for a life partner. Matrimonial sites make something as important as finding a life partner a very transactional process, where you are judging someone by not who they are but filters like weight, complexion, etc. Woo is very clear about standing for commitment and long-term
relationships. Talking about finding its space in a clutter, Menon says, "Competition in a young category fuels the growth of the category, so that's always a good thing. Our confidence comes from the validation we are seeing from users,
who are responding to it very well." Currently Woo claims of around two million users with 15,000 matches made
every day.

Matchmaking in a Fun Manner

((L-R) Sid Misra, Siddharth Mangharam & Simran Mangharam, Founders, Floh)

Floh was created to provide a platform for singles to meet like-minded people in a fun way. The outcome to this is very natural that people get into relationships. It is solving the problem of urban Indians who have a paucity of time and not enough avenues to meet. Woo solved this problem through deep curation of the network and creating interactive events for them to meet. On adding a unique proposition to the platform, Siddharth Mangharam, Founder and EO, Floh, says, "Being single is a great phase in one's life, and we believe it should be spent with fun and meeting interesting people. We make our members to meet in real at our highly interactive events. We guarantee that they will get to interact with an absolutely diverse set of people (you name a profession and we have it represented at Floh)." The events are highly interactive and allow people to be who they are. All of this certainly leads to any couples dating and getting married. Floh plans to host over 1000 events this year. On competition, Mangharam says, "There is a saying among start-ups that it is better to have 1,000 raving fans who fiercely love your product than a million users who merely like your product. Every action of ours is focused on creating an exceptional experience for our members.
This approach has led to Floh having an exceptionally loyal customer base which is a significant competitive edge." Around 92 percent of new members come to Floh on the recommendation of existing members. With 75 percent active users, it Boasts of having 55 percent of female members. Keeping its exclusivity out of 5,000 applicants only 3000+ memberships have been approved. On an average, one couple gets married at Floh every week.

A Reflection of Real World

(Taru Kapoor, Head India, Tinder)

Tinder is a global app having users in 196 nations. Sharing more about Tinder, Taru Kapoor, Head India, Tinder, says, "Just like you go to Facebook to connect with people you know and go to WhatsApp to connect with your close friends, you go to Tinder to make new friends – This is driven by 20-21-year old people who are coming to Tinder in huge numbers and using it the way they wanted. It's spreading across other user groups and ages as well, but it is mainly driven by young people who are not afraid of anything, who don't have mental barriers and constrains as some of older people had." On how users take it in different markets, Kapoor says, "Everywhere, users use it a little bit differently, but at the same time a lot of aspects are common as we are humans, we have basic human needs and Tinder matches those very well."

The real power of the Tinder is the app is the reflection of real world. One out of 100 guys could be creepy or said something you did not want to hear, and you got scared talking to other 99. The nice guys, well-intentioned people suffered from it, and it is very hard for them to break the mould. Yes, you can have the conversation that you may not like it is simple to opt out on Tinder. So you are in control of your conversation. By giving you the power to eliminate these one percent conversations, you can also discover 99 percent conversations with likeminded people that would not have been possible because in India we are very scared to walk up to a stranger and talk to him/ her. On taking competition from Indian players, Kapoor says, "I don't worry about competition. It is not a market share game, it is about educating people and letting them come online to you. Look at the Internet users of India coming online in five years down the line, especially youth and singles, and this will boggle your mind."

Speed Dating Start-Ups

(Sachin Bhatia, Co-founder, TrulyMadly)

In India, there are 250 million singles aged 18-34 and that is essentially the market that TrulyMadly is after. Talking about the challenge, Sachin Bhatia, Co-founder, TrulyMadly, shares, "Selling concept was a biggest challenge. As online dating was there in the West, so it was very easy to transit people form web to app, in India there was no online dating, thus the onus was on us to establish online dating app as a nice, comfortable and safe way of meeting other singles. So we are investing in that as it is an opportunity and challenge as well." Sharing more, he says, "We do a lot of on the ground activities because for us it is not about a full page advertisement in a newspaper, it is really about word of mouth publicity. We do a lot of on the ground stuff be it in colleges or other youth hangouts. We have two popular properties Unsingle Mixers, which we do at night clubs, pubs, etc. Another is Unsingle Comedy Tour, which we do at campuses, so we got Kaneez Surka, one of the leading female stand-up comedians. She goes from campus to campus talking about TrulyMadly in a fun interesting manner and that's what resonates with our audience."

On monetizing the app, Bhatia says, "We are going to attain break even in the next eight months as we have started monetization. We certainly need to scale this further. If not go global we can extend this app to South- East Asia as it culturally similar to India. We can start off with Jakarta." Last year, TurlyMadly raised $5 million from Helion and K capital. The app saw two million app downloads within a year.

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur India

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