FORBES - Apr 2 - In India, marriage sites list details such as blood type, exact day and minute of birth, photos, annual income, HIV status and more. The person sharing all this intimate data is often not the prospective bride or groom. At Shaadi.com, ~30% of the 30M listings come from siblings and parents. Some Indian sites do not even require creating a profile before accessing details about others.
FINANCIAL TIMES - Dec 12 - Shaadi.com was launched in 1996 when founder Anupam Mittal’s mother was trying to arrange a marriage for him. Shaadi.com now attracts ~10K new members every day. The registration form asks for users community, sub-community and the colour of their skin. Some 20% of registrations are done by a friend or relative. Shaadi also opened physical retail centres across India to boost registrations. The matchmaking industry generates $32.3B every year.
by Avantika Chilkoti
See full article at Financial Times
THE ATLANTIC - Dec 5 - The online dating scene in India is primarily matrimonial sites. Shaadi.com is, intuitively, a wedding arranged via the Internet. 90% of marriages in India still classify as “arranged”. 1 in 8 singles use the matrimonial sites. The online matrimony market is valued at ~$81M with an annual growth rate of 30%. There are 44M Indians who now have smartphones, giving “hookup apps” like Tinder a huge market. Tinder is seeing ~4% percent daily growth in its Indian user base. Grindr has ~11K members in India.
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.
ECONOMIC TIMES - May 21 - Gourav Rakshit, COO of matchmaking portal Shaadi.com, says he would add 'political views' to the roster of standard criteria like caste, gotra and income status that matchmaking websites use to suggest suitable matches. "We see that today the professional urban youth are keen to know political affiliations of potential partners," says Sanjeev Kumar, business head for simplymarry.com, another matchmaking portal. Social commentator Santosh Desai says it is the social media platform that has changed the scenario. "What was once a private opinion now has a public domain of who I am." he says.
NY TIMES - May 9 - “It’s almost like outsourcing your online dating to your mom,” said Kevin Leland, CEO of TheJMom.com, a Jewish matchmaking site. Mothers, fathers and even grandmothers share online profiles of their ready-to-wed children. Duo is a traditional matchmaking service based in South Korea. 80% of the members are mothers inquiring on behalf of their sons. Annual fees can range from $2K - $5K, and include 7-9 introductions and parents monitor the dating progress of their children. Posting and browsing on TheJMom.com is free, and a six-month subscription package, which provides contacts and connections, starts at $78. The $199 premium service, the Personal Profile Concierge, provides mothers with a makeover of their own profile and their child’s online profile and one-on-one attention from someone at the company. Indian families are known to begin the matchmaking process by collecting a prospect’s “bio-data,” which is a résumé of someone’s marital qualifications — from the basics like age, weight and height, to information about a prospect’s job and character. There are a number of matrimonial sites including BharatMatrimony.com, Shaadi.com, and SecondShaadi.com (for second marriages).
by Ji Huyn Lee
See full article at NY Times
NY TIMES - Apr 23 - A new generation of young Indian professionals has refused to follow the arranged-marriage route, with its emphasis on caste, family ties, wealth and skin color. Parents, while trying to respect their children’s wishes, are trying other measures, like online singles networks such as Floh and TwolyMadlyDeeply. Floh has 500 members, some parents paid $300 annual subscription on their kids’ behalf. Online matchmaking sites have been around in India for quite some time, like Shaadi.com or Bharatmatrimony.com, but they are long shot in a country of a billion-plus people. Many parents disapprove of Indian dating sites as they have a highly skewed to males, and can be crammed with unverified identities. Singles networks like Floh and TwolyMadlyDeeply, with their “verified” memberships, appeal to parents because they promise the exact opposite of digital anonymity. TwolyMadlyDeeply’s members are vetted on the phone before they can join and can only then interact online or through real-time events.
OPW - Nov 3 - Irena and I were in Dubai for a few days so we thought we'd see which dating sites were blocked and which made it past government filtering. Specifically any 'Internet Content that contradicts the ethics and morals of the UAE including Nudity and Dating' get blocked. iDating doesn't fit the religion and culture of UAE. Matrimonials sites, on the other hand, are ok.
Match, Plentyoffish and OKCupid were blocked. I thought World Singles Arablounge.com might make the cut, but no. It was blocked. China dating sites Zhenai, Baihe and Jiayuan were all blocked as well. We got through to Facebook and thought we'd have more luck with people discovery services. Badoo was blocked but Tagged and Meetme were ok. Matrimonials sites made the cut. Shaadi, Bharat Matrimony and Jeevansathi were all available in Dubai. We were especially pleased that Online Personals Watch and Social Networking Watch were available as well. Of course, as soon as I fired up my VPN I could get to everything. Dubai Internet City also enjoys open access and alternative ISP Du is more lenient than Etisalat. [Full Disclosure: POF and Meetme are clients of Courtland Brooks]
INDIA KNOWLEDGE WHARTON - May 11 - Anupam Mittal laughs at any suggestion that he is the worst advertisement for his company. At 39, he is founder and CEO of shaadi.com, and he's a bachelor. Shaadi recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. The site controls ~40% of the US$1 billion Indian match-making business.
Q: You started Shaadi at a time when most people in India did not have Internet access. Why?
Anupam Mittal: I was living in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. The Internet was starting to boom in the U.S. While sitting in my father’s office in India, I met one of those traditional matchmakers who was trying to match me off. It struck me that we could put all this on the Internet. In 1997, we launched the first version called sagaai.com. [Sagaai = engagement]. In 2001, I quit my job in the U.S. and moved back to India, and we changed the name to shaadi.com.
Q: When did you get your first round of funding?
A: Mittal: We didn’t need to raise external capital until 2006. We raised capital from Sequoia, Silicon Valley Bank and Intel. By then, I’d also started a mobile application company called mauj.com. We raised US$20M between shaadi and mauj.
Q: What is your revenue model? Is the company profitable?
A: At a basic level the site is free. You pay when you find somebody you want to communicate with. It can range from $60 - $400 depending on the service you choose. We’re profitable.
Q: When are your investors planning an exit?
A: The life of a fund is~10 years. When you’ve invested for six years, you start to talk about what’s the best way to exit.
Q: Who is your typical client?
A: 20% are Indians outside the country, but 80% come from within the country. We see people who make $4,000 a year and those who make hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s why we have services that cater to different people. Our customer acquisition cost is low because we get a lot of direct referrals.
Q: Do you consider Bharat Matrimony as your competition?
A: They're stronger down south; we’re stronger up north.
Q: Shaadi has extended to mobile, television and DTH [direct to home satellite television]. How successful have those been?
A: DTH didn’t work. DTH is for entertainment. Mobile is working brilliantly. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next 12 months, 20% of all our interactions happen on mobile.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL - Feb 23 - Racial filtering is alive and well on mainstream dating and hookup sites, which give users the option of checking ethnic preferences alongside ideal body types and social habits like smoking and drinking. While most critics agree that the ethnicity checkbox is vastly preferable to specifying 'No Asians,' they disagree about whether the option is a step backward. Is it any different than hunting through niche sites like Shaadi or JDate? Grindr acknowledged that users can list race in their preferences, but can be banned for posting material "perceived to incite racism". "We also encourage our users to state what they are looking for as opposed to what they are not looking for." A dating poll of 2K Lavalife users found that 74% of women surveyed said ethnicity affected their dating decisions, compared with 49% of men. "Men are more open to meeting people from different communities. They tend to concentrate on physical aspects whereas women are much more interested in lifestyle and background," said Justin Parfitt, CEO of speed-dating company FastLife International. "People should be free to have sex or not have sex with anyone they want", argued Harry Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester who co-authored a review of 400 studies on online dating. "In my estimation, it is fine (although self-limiting) to be racist with regard to sexual preferences", he said. "Throw out the checklist," Mr. Parfitt advises. "What you think you want and where you end up finding chemistry are often two very different things."
by Zosia Bielski
See full article at Globe and Mail
HUFFINGTON POST - Feb 14 - For some people a potential mate’s religious profile is the most important of all. “God has a match for you," claims a Christian dating site called Christian Mingle. Shaadi.com, a site for the South Asian community, breaks it down even further -- first between Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and others, and then among caste and background. Statistics seem to support this, with interfaith marriages having a slightly higher rate of ending in divorce. "It's about a baseline of comfort," explained one gay Jewish man who used J-Date in his search for a partner.
INDIA TIMES - Feb 3 - Matchmaking portal BharatMatrimony.com has filed a complaint against Google in the Competition Commission of India, citing discriminatory trade practices related to its AdWords program. The AdWords program is Google's main source of revenue, whereby it sells keywords to advertisers and displays them in the form of ads online. Google earned about 96% of its total revenues of $38 billion from ads, last year. As per sources, BharatMatrimony has filed the complaint on the issue of keywords relating to its websites being sold to rival parties such as Shaadi.com, and Jeevansaathi.com.
HINDUSTAN TIMES - Jan 13 - Shaadi.com got inspired by the now-legendary game Angry Birds and launched a Facebook game called Angry Brides. They have launched the game in the effort of creating awareness and discouraging the practice of dowry in India.
by Shayon Pal
The full article was originally published at Hindustan Times, but is no longer available.
INDIA INFOLINE - Oct 20 - Shaadi.com completes 15 years of successful matchmaking. Over the fifteen year journey, Shaadi.com started with online business at its core and extended services to various platforms such as Mobile (through Shaadi.com Blackberry app), Television (through a show called Vivah) & on DTH (through Dish TV). In the offline space, Shaadi.com launched Shaadi Centres which has a network of 100+ centers across 87 Indian cities today.
THE NATIONAL - July 31 - Online matchmaking companies in India are becoming evermore popular as the population becomes increasingly engaged with the internet. In 1996, Anupam Mittal went from house to house, trying to arrange a match. Every visit that resulted in a wedding earned him a tidy commission.The marriage broker got Mr Mittal thinking: how many houses is it possible for a broker to visit each day? Was the choice of potential spouses restricted only to his limited pool of clients? That is how shaadi.com was born, some 15 years ago. The web portal - which currently has 20M users and is responsible ~ 2 million weddings so far - was last year listed among the top 20 digital brands in the country by Brand Equity and the Nielsen company. The communications company MSL Group Asia says ~10% of India's internet users have at some point accessed a matrimonial site. Two market leaders - Mr Mittal's shaadi.com and bharatmatrimony.com, founded in 1997 by Murugavel Janakiraman - together control 70% of the online matrimony market between them, according to JuxtConsult.
OPW - June 16 - Apple is in top spot. Forbes recognized the top 50 most innovative companies on the planet, and one dating site was in the mix. Can you guess which one?
Actually, its not quite a dating site. A matrimonials site, to be precise. Our friends at Shaadi made the cut, as the most innovative company in the idatingsphere, on the planet. Well done! We interviewed Anupam Mittal, the CEO, in August 2009.
Here's the full Forbes Innovation Top 50. And here's Shaadi's mention at no.39. Now how on earth do they decide no.39? Who's to say that Shaadi doesn't have more impact and show more innovation than even the venerable Apple? God, I love Apple, but I love my wife more. (see comment section for retort from Irena) - Mark Brooks
PRESS RELEASE - July 1 - The readers of About.com nominated and then voted Shaadi.com as the best Matrimonial Web site in the 2011 About.com Reader's Choice Awards. Now in its fourth year, the About.com Readers' Choice Awards honor the best products, features and services across more than a dozen categories, ranging from technology to hobbies to parenting and more, as selected by its readers.
WSJ - May 9 - Shaadi.com is out with its annual survey of its 150K members’ matrimonial attitudes. 54% of women prefer living in a “joint family” after marriage–alongside parents and siblings–whereas only 21% want to be in a “nuclear set-up.” On education, only 10% of men said they would prefer a woman more educated than them, versus 69% of women who say they want their partner to be more educated than them. Still, ~85% of men want their wife to have a job rather than be a homemaker. ~54% of men and 46% of women–said caste is not a factor in evaluating their partners.