Marriage – This one word creates a ripple in someone’s life, while there are many who wait for this to happen. There is a proverb in Hindi, ‘Shaadi ke laddoo – jo khaaye wo pachtaye, jo naa khaaye wo bhi pachtaye.’ In short, people are still confused when it comes to this concept of lifelong togetherness.
In India marriage is a definition of all things grandeur. Here, it is believed that ‘You just don’t get married to the groom or the bride but the whole family, including the extended ones.’ This means, in most the cases, the family is involved mentally, physically, spiritually and culturally – as much as bride or the groom, in some cases even more than them.
We have always heard people say that ‘there is one for every person in this world and it’s just a matter of time before you find him or her.’ There are people who find ‘that person’ in schools, colleges, in the neighborhood or even better – family finds them ‘the one’. However, remember what classic Bollywood movies have taught us? There is always a door that has not been explored. That door is the internet and the online matchmaking platforms that gives a whole new dimension to finding the right partner is the key to that unexplored door.
One such online matchmaking platform is Jodi365.com, which has brought a few hundred couples together into long-term relationships since its inception.
Next-Generation Matchmaking Platform – How it all started
The foundation of the platform is based on a common issue of a single professional who found it difficult to carve time out consistently to socialize with friends, let alone mix and mingle in the hope of running into compatible singles.
That single professional who was single through his 20s and into his 30s, despite trying various options is Anil Kumar, now the Founder & CEO of Jodi365.com.
Kumar was acutely aware of the challenges of being single. He says, “When something did not work out, I would do what a typical user of a matchmaking site might do. Withdraw for a while, lick one’s wounds, focus on other aspects of life and recharge before venturing again – boldly, hopefully, whether online or offline, to find love.”
In 2009, Kumar was looking to use his MBA program at the Chicago Booth School of Business as a springboard to launching a new venture. In the course of evaluating a funding pitch by a Chicago-based sports fan networking site, while he was the lead associate at an angel network, he realised that there was a gap in the marketplace, more so for a changing India, and that a refreshingly different matchmaking platform would be well received.
Having known the customer pain himself, Kumar was passionate about addressing the problem. He decided to pursue it full-time, despite the fact that mentors were graciously cracking doors open into venture capital for him. After a couple of months of evaluating the opportunity, the concept evolved into what people see in Jodi365 today.
Filtering the marital requirements
In a multi-cultural, collectivistic society such as India, there are many complexities and sensitivities to deal with, when it comes to finding and deciding on a marriage partner. Jodi365 users come from various cultures, including Bengali, Gujarati, Kannadiga, Malayalee, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi and other multi-cultural backgrounds.
Kumar explains how his platform filters such concerns. He says, “We understand that similarities matter, especially when it comes to finding the right partner. However, unlike typical matrimonial sites, we do not entrench cultural distinctions. We let our users define their cultural identity in a way that’s meaningful to them through religion, language, ethnic/national origin, community, and any combination thereof.”
Combating the dark side of the internet – Fraud
While the online matchmaking platforms is a boon to millions, it also comes with a share of the dark side of the internet – fraud. It is a routine to hear or read about unsuspecting users on matrimonial sites being charmed into a relationship by fraudsters who may still be married but claim to be single, or of being cheated out of money by scammers who prey on the lonely and emotionally vulnerable.
“This is very distressing,” says Kumar. He further adds, “A large part of the problem stems from most competing platforms’ pursuit of quantity at the expense of quality.”
To eliminate any concerns of fake profiles, users on Jodi365 are asked to verify their mobile numbers and a government-issued photo ID. They also manually screen 100% of user profiles and call users as necessary, in striving to ensure that all profiles on the platform are genuine.
“We are ruthless when it comes to booting users out should they not abide by our terms of service, especially our code of conduct,” adds Kumar. He further ads, “Our thoughtful, in-depth profile questionnaire, consisting of over 80 questions, shows that a user is earnest. It also facilitates improved matching and helps people get to know potential matches well.”
Jodi365 is in the process of enabling an additional, video verification of users.
The platform also provide personalized matchmaking assistance to those who are too busy to search for a match on their own and yet are keen on finding a match within a desired time frame. The Assisted Connect service and also a premium, by-invitation-only Personal Touch personalized matchmaking service includes receiving the help of an experienced relationship manager every week, in screening, reviewing, and connecting with matches on one’s behalf.
Business and Matchmaking Amid Covid-19
It has been sobering to see how many businesses and entire industries have either been ground to a halt or slowed considerably by Covid-19. However, this isn’t the case for Jodi365. “Our business during the lockdown has been busier than ever,” says Kumar. While Kumar did not reveal the growth figures, he said that their analytics and internal metrics reveal a surge during the last few months.
“This is understandable,” says Kumar. He further adds, “In times of distress or the kind of enforced social distancing we have been facing, it is only natural for people to be more inclined to seek out support, validation, and companionship. When the options to socialize offline are drastically curtailed, where else can one go but online.”
There has been plenty of successful matchmaking during the lockdown points, Kumar. One such example is of a Bengaluru-based young woman who found a match in a Delhi-based young man, with the families also on board. They are waiting for the lockdown to end so that an engagement may be solemnized.
Another example is of a Chennai-based client, who used the platform’s personalized, Assisted Connect service and is happy to have found a match in a Bengaluru-based woman.
Alternate business – an extension of Jodi365
Kumar understood that finding a match is just the beginning, there is plenty more that follows. This realization gave birth to another platform, Peepul365, which complements the business of Jodi365 in many ways. “The idea was to help people not only find the right partner, but also nurture and celebrate their relationships for all seasons of life, and a platform that helped with celebrations was a logical extension,” says Kumar.
Peepul365 is an online platform that helps individuals and their families to set up a custom website to announce their wedding and share updates with family and friends. In addition to useful planning tools, such as a budget planner, online planning checklist, and guest/RSVP management tools, brides and grooms may set up a free wedding gift registry to let guests securely make cash gifts to the couple, for their wedding, honeymoon, or new life together.
Future Plans and Prospects
Kumar says, “Just as sectors such as education and business are seeing millions more go online and adapt to virtual solutions, we are going to see many more people choose and get comfortable with online platforms to find a potential partner. We are hopeful to onboard about 100,000 new users this year.”
“While we remain bullish about our growth, we need to be measured in our expectations. After all, we are dealing with an unprecedented situation for our lifetimes and no one can claim to have answers to how things will pan out and over what time frames,” concludes Kumar.