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Rashmi Pratap | Updated on September 12, 2014 Published on April 18, 2014

In it together: Looking for love in the urban jungles of India can be hard work...Niche matrimonial sites hope to narrow down the choices. Photo: K.R Deepak

Murugavel Janakiraman, CEO, matrimony.com, assistedmatrimony.com, 40plusmatrimony.com

Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO, Shaadi.com, VIPShaadi.in, Selectshaadi.in

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The business of online coupling in India has grown big enough to create its own niches

Back in 2007, when Vivek Pahwa saw that his friends, all in their 30s, were struggling to find someone like-minded they could marry, he had the idea of creating a platform to bring together people of the same age group, irrespective of their marital status. So while most matrimonial websites then focused on the unmarried, his site SecondShaadi.com promised to connect 30-plus singles — unmarried, divorced or widowed. Today, it sees 300 people signing up every day, including those looking to remarry and singles in their late-30s and beyond.

“The number of divorce cases is on the rise now. It made sense to run a separate site as people in a similar situation find it easier to relate to each other. That offers more chances of clicking and taking the relationship to the next level,” says Pahwa.

Matching elite

It was precisely this thought that also led Anupam Mittal, founder and CEO of Shaadi.com, to launch VIPShaadi.in and Selectshaadi.in about two years ago. The first caters to the crème de la crème of India — high networth individuals looking for extreme privacy in their matrimonial dealings, while the second targets busy professionals who believe in delegation even when it comes to finding a partner.

“This busy, new, career-focused breed is practical, serious about getting married, but either does not have the time to look for the right partner or is just uncomfortable approaching a stranger on a website despite liking their profile,” says Mittal. His sites now attract users from all over the world, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia and UAE. “Our technology allows us to segment users and connect like-minded people,” he says.

“People from the upper crust of society usually have to mask their identity when searching for partners online,” says Murugavel Janakiraman, founder CEO of Matrimony .com. His solution was to set up Elitematrimony.com in 2008, complete with the services of a personal relationship manager. Registrations have trebled in the past year, and one in every four members has found a match through the site, says Janakiraman, who spearheads a matrimonial empire spanning general as well as specialised sites, including the 40plusmatrimony.com and Assistedmatrimony.com (for professionals).

Mittal’s VIP, by invitation only service has grown 10-fold within a year and boasts a 40 per cent success rate. For Select, it is 20 per cent. “Our target is to double both these success rates,” he says.

The marriage Net

The online matrimonial business is expected to grow to ₹1,500 crore by 2017 from ₹520 crore at present. Industry chamber Assocham foresees for it a compound annual growth of over 65 per cent in the next two years.

During financial year 2012-13 alone, about 55 million people signed up for online matrimonial sites. The spurt is related to the rising number of internet users in India — pegged to reach 243 million by June 2014, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

“Smartphone use is further driving this trend (of online matrimony). The breakdown of the joint family system and the movement of people to different cities are challenging the traditional ways of finding a match. In a country obsessed with marriage, this creates a problem in finding a partner,” reasons Mittal.

Little wonder then that Janakiraman has over 20 million clients globally and over 2.5 lakh new members joining every month. At Pahwa’s Secondshaadi.com too, registrations have doubled in the past year.

Into this mix of divorced, widowed, professionals and super-rich logging in for companionship, Pune-based Pradeep Dixit has added yet another dimension — people who were adopted. Dixit, who runs the non-profit Communication Support Foundation, launched Matrimonyforadopted .org this January.

Since its launch, it has received 25 registrations and 3,000 hits. “We are conducting camps and counselling sessions to make people aware of it,” says Dixit, who is simultaneously creating an online network of orphanages to complement the site. The first 100 registrations are free. “We’ll charge a nominal ₹1,000-₹1,500 after that,” he says, way below the lakhs charged by sites catering to the elite.

So, whether or not marriages are made in heaven, they increasingly appear to be finalised online in today’s fast-paced world.

Published on April 18, 2014
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