THE NEWS MINUTE - Sep 23 - BharatMatrimony's origin began in the US in 1997 when Murugavel Janakiraman started a website for the Tamil community, called sysindia.com. The site included features like the Tamil daily calendar, festival reminders, tips and matrimonial service which later became BharatMatrimony. In 2000, he returned to India to start his own office in Chennai. Muruga was inspired by IAC and began to create his network of websites. Clickjobs.com and Indiaproperty.com were launched in 2005. Indialist.com (local classifieds modelled on Craigslist), Loanwala.com and Indiaautomobile.com were next in line. In 2005, things started changing. Companies that had been around for a while and had survived the dot-com crash were seeing a lot of interest from investors. The biggest competitor Shaadi.com raised $8M. Muruga met more than ten investors around that time but couldn't raise money from any of them. "We were generating $4M in revenue and some of the investors made lowball offers of $10M valuations," he said. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the investment bankers organised a meeting with Yahoo! Cannan Partners got the wind that Yahoo! was considering an investment in BharatMatrimony and jumped in to participate in the round. In August 2006, BharatMatrimony announced an $8.65M financing from Yahoo! and Cannan Partners. Yahoo! dumped Shaadi.com as their exclusive partner and replaced them with BharatMatrimony. "We kind of spent most of the money on marketing. We had a play in all these classifieds like jobs, matrimonial, real estate, and vehicles with competitors in each. It turned out that $8M was too little for the entire portfolio to grow and succeed." Thankfully, for Muruga, right before they ran out of cash in early 2008, they managed to raise ~$11.75M. This time, Mayfield Fund led the round and there was participation from existing investors, Yahoo! and Canaan Partners. "We plan to leverage this fund to expand our matrimony business in the international markets and to strengthen our classifieds offerings."
by Sidharth Rao
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