India File

When inclusion is exclusive

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 11, 2016

Inclov co-founders Shankar Srinivasan and Kalyani Khona RAMESH SHARMA

Inclov, a matrimonial app, makes disability a meeting point



Anu Multani is getting married within a month, and like any bride is looking forward to the big day with, both nervousness and excitement.

But till a few months ago, Multani’s Surat-based parents were losing hope of finding a suitable boy for their daughter. Their girl has polio related challenges, and they had been looking for a match for six years.

Not very far away, Imran too had similar problems – his movement affected by polio, and a futile search for a life partner. That was until the two found each other on Inclov, a matrimonial app for the challenged. “I have used other matrimonial sites. But never felt I could trust a site like I could Inclov. No one has to hide their disability for the fear of being judged,” says the bride-to-be, who called up the founders of Inclov to thank them.

“Sometimes you need such validations to make you feel that all the time spent is worth and is making a difference in the lives of people,” says Shankar Srinivasan, co-founder, Inclov. The 24-year-old founded the company in 2014, along with Kalyani Khona, whom he had met on a train journey on the way to a conference.



Offline to online

Initially their startup was called Wanted Umbrella, a boutique match-making agency for the disabled, located in Gurgaon. But they soon realised that the traditional matrimonial sector does not cater to the differently-abled, and developed an app to widen their reach. “We were disheartened with the attitude of existing matrimonial websites and dating apps towards people with disability,” says Srinivasan.

The founders did extensive research on the challenges faced by the differently-abled in their social life. They raised ₹6 lakh from 150 contributors on a crowdfunding platform in August 2015. The app, developed by a visually impaired, was beta-tested by differently-abled and accessibility experts.

“Inclov matches people on the basis of cure availability, medical condition, level of independence and lifestyle choices. It is accessible to people with visual impairment and retina disorder through screen readers and has other accessibility features like font magnifier and colour contrast themes,” explains Srinivasan.

The app, which was launched in January, has over 2,000 active users.

Creating access

But matchmaking for the disabled requires special focus on security and transparency. “Our users are new to the concept of dating, or looking for a life partner without support from friends and family. We needed to make sure we have features that ensure users’ profiles are real and have genuine information,” he added.

To ensure that, the app requires mobile and email verification. One cannot take screenshots or save images from Inclov. Users don’t need to share their contact details and can interact using the in-built chat feature. In addition, keeping in mind the users’ privacy, only the first name is visible.

The team, which works out from an apartment in Gurgaon, is now looking for seed funding to add features such as voice commands and video calling to the app. Inclov uses the freemium model, which means discovering profiles of users is free.

So, users can connect to others using the in-app chat feature without exchanging phone numbers. Certain number of such connections are free, but users will need to pay to connect with additional users.

The founders now also want to take their app global. “We are looking to take this to the US, the UK and Australia. We hope to break-even by October-December 2017,” says Srinivasan.

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Published on April 11, 2016
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