OPW - May 1 - Lija Wilson was a brand manager at RSVP, the top dating site in Australia and worked for Fairfax Digital for 5 years. Nikhil Jain ran marketing for RSVP. Now they've teamed up to start an Indian dating service called Troozi, which just passed 100k members. Here's our first ever op-ed. - Mark Brooks
Nikhil and I worked together in the online dating category in Australia for many years. We always talked about returning to the category to start something ourselves. Our choice to focus on India stemmed from a number of factors. Clearly, the market and opportunity from a sheer volume perspective is a key factor. We evaluated potential business interests on scale and the long term potential – India has almost unlimited opportunity in this regard.
India also has a very diverse population, which is an exciting and interesting challenge from a business perspective. We have spent a lot of time considering the offering and how to provide the best experience possible for such a large and diverse market. India now also houses the world's largest young population. This is key for our target audience now but also for the potential of the Troozi business in future years.
Right now, India's online dating market is still in relatively immature growth. This is a parallel to what Nik and I experienced when starting work on the RSVP brand in Australia.
At the time, we were watching online dating in markets such as the US and Europe and applying learnings - Australia was tracking around 10 years behind. We quickly realised how important establishing credibility for the category, and of course the brand was, if we were serious about market leadership. India offers similar market and business challenges to what we faced back then with RSVP. There is stigma, there is a degree of awkwardness around online dating for some segments of the singles market, but the interest in the opportunity is definitely there and each week, we can see the increasing potential for the future. It's very very exciting.
Troozi is a name we came up with after playing with a few attributes that were important for what we wanted the brand to stand for. We wanted the brand to offer singles authenticity and credulity – so Troozi started as play on 'true' but we wanted a brand that sounded fun and contemporary and also was a little intriguing, almost like a point of curiosity for our members to discover 'what's behind this name?'
We have worked from a lean principle and started with test markets, a combination of digital performance trials and advocacy drivers. Nikhil specialises in performance marketing so this has been a huge advantage to us as obviously, establishing a member base from scratch is a challenge in any market. In the last 3 months, over a third of sign ups have come in from word-of-mouth effects. This is a great metric for us, supporting that members are advocating their experience and the positioning of Troozi is resonating within the market we are targeting.
Troozi is based around a platform neutral offering. We wanted users to have full control over how and when they accessed Troozi and we also wanted to have the ability to grow and shift with the Indian market and the technology and device uptake.
We're not operating in the matrimonial space and we're also not positioning Troozi as a dating app to connect quickly for casual dating. We want to provide a platform - an online meeting place, and build for a community for singles around this. Over time, we just want to enable the members to select the experience that is relevant for them and to seek out whatever connection is right for them.
There are a number of very cool features we are in development for right now which support our strategy to offer urban Indian singles a service which is moving with the changing times. We're really looking forward to evolving our offering to India over the coming months.
We regard anyone who offers an online connection service for singles as competition. There are changes in the matrimonial space with a number of acquisitions and product extensions recently in India, there are new players offering App experiences in India, there are global dating offerings with focus in India. We recognise that with a market changing so rapidly and a singles population who are embracing technology and the opportunities its opening up so enthusiastically, we need to be highly relevant. We need to focus on our proposition and be the very best that we can be at servicing the singles market in India, reviewing our offering constantly.
The Indian market does monetize. This is evident in many categories in India with dating being no exception. The offering of course must demonstrate relevance and naturally, monetization should start from a highly engaged user base. Right now, we have just come out of our proof of concept phase and acquisition of members has been the focus. So currently, Troozi is free for members. We have some advertising revenue coming in currently and will be testing some other streams in months to come.
We were fortunate to work for RSVP and in the online dating category in Australia in a very exciting time in the business. When Nik and I left to pursue other opportunities, RSVP had spontaneous brand awareness of 90% in Australia. It was an amazing experience to join a business when the category was young and be part of such phenomenal growth. We learnt many many things and we are seeing parallels and drawing from our learnings and experience at RSVP every day with Troozi.
We learnt to put the user first. Their experience must be at the centre of business decisions. We learnt a lot about the importance of creating a brand and destigmatising the category, in some segments in India there is still a stigma with meeting online so we have some great experience to apply. Our RSVP days also provided us with some great knowledge of approaches to monetisation for the dating category and the best levers for engaging members across different life stages and demographics.
Now we are focused on delivering Indian singles with a relevant, engaging and fun product. We want to build a very large member base of engaged singles who love our brand. Ultimately, in 2 years time we want to be a brand that is top of mind for singles – our goal is for Troozi to be mainstream.
- by Lija Wilson