OPW INTERVIEW - July 30 - In the future India will be one of the top three revenue-producing iDating markets. myZamana was started by a Meetmoi alumni and is doing well there now. Here’s our introduction to the founder Ashish Kundra and myZamana. - Mark Brooks
myZamana.com is a primarily Indian Dating site. I see that about 70% of your traffic on Alexa is in India.
Yes, that is correct.
What's your background? You worked at MeetMoi?
I did, I interned at MeetMoi during college. It was my first exposure to the dating space. When I graduated I moved to Boston, and started programming various sites. My sister was single and looking for a date. I thought, "Why don't I build her a service?" That's how it all got started.
What did you learn from MeetMoi? That seems really relevant to the Indian Market. 49% of all Internet usage is on mobile in India.
Yeah, MeetMoi was definitely very early on in the mobile dating space. It was an unfamiliar concept to people at that time. Now the mantra is "Mobile First."
How did you start of? How many users do you have now?
Initially, it started like JDate for Indians. The focus was primarily on the US market, which in retrospect was the completely wrong way. My goal is to build a very large, long-term, mainstream site, and it turns out the Indian market is much larger than the Indians in the US market. There are four million South Asians in the US and a billion in India.
First we signed up 10K users from large metropolitan areas in US. Then I started seeing an influx of users from India until I really just couldn't ignore it. Within a few months most of our users were in India, and I started doubling down in that market.
You mentioned that half of the population of India is under 25 at this stage. What are their thoughts on the likes of Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony?
It depends on the person's background. If you are from a rural area and don't have Internet connection then obviously all of this is irrelevant to you. If you are from a more traditional household, then Bharat Matrimony and Shaadi might be good options for you. If you are living in a city, you might want to choose your own date and not want to be subjected to the kind of patriarchal system of arranged marriages, which I see Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony as synonymous to.
What is myZamana's fit in the market?
We are basically a mainstream service that helps people meet new people.
Who would you class as your competitors in India?
There are a couple of startups going after the dating/meet new people market, but there isn't one competitor we really look at.
You are at 1.2 million users so far.
We want to be one of the leaders in this market. It's really early days, only 11% of the market is online, so we are patient.
How is the infrastructure though? Are you finding most of your users in mobile as well?
Surprisingly, most of our users have mobile devices, but we still get a lot of traffic from the web. Android is definitely the biggest app platform there.
The payment infrastructure is very recent, so it's really hard to accept payments. We don't, we are a free site. We are ad supported, and we really like that model. It works well for us.
3 or 4 years ago we did some work with a group dating app called Ignighter. They started in USA and got popular in India. Now they are bases out of India and changed their name to StepOut. What is your take on that?
India is very interesting market given how rapidly it's changing and how large it's eventually going to be. It was a wise decision for them, and they are a pretty significant player in the market.
What's your end goal? Where will you be in 2 years time?
In 2 years time, if we grow maybe the order of magnitude or two, we'll be definitely a pretty big player in the meeting new people/dating space. It really depends on the Internet penetration in India which is now 11%.
In terms of monetization, what are the options that are becoming available now? What do you think it's going to look like in a couple years time for means of payment?
Currently there are four options. Mobile payments where carriers take 75% fee and the transactions are capped at around $2, so it’s really not worth it. Your second option is brick and mortar payment collections, which is what Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony do. The third option is credit card payments online. But the credit card penetration is around 4%. Fourth option is advertising, that's what we're really big fans of. In the future the credit card penetration will pick up.
Have you thought about monetizing the diaspora?
We don't really spend a lot of time thinking about that. It's probably a pretty good short-term business opportunity, but in the long run I don't see it as a viable option. We want to invest things where we see a presence in 10 years. The US market is shrinking. ,South Asians here will not forever want to marry only South Asians.
Would you describe myZamana as a social discovery site? Is that a good title for this section of the industry?
Yea, I think that could work.