In 1996, matrimonial website Shaadi.com paved the way for online e-commerce classifieds in India. More than a 100 websites followed suit to help set up the $63 million online matrimonial services market in India.
Now the former founders of MakeMyTrip, Letsbuy and a product head from MakeMyTrip are taking a new look at the sector. Their service, TrulyMadly is looking to disrupt online matrimonials and matchmaking, one of the oldest, most successful sectors in Indian e-commerce.
Sachin Bhatia, Hitesh Dhingra and Rahul Kumar’s TrulyMadly, combines the authenticity that social-networking provides, psychometric tests and a compatibility engine to find users the perfect life partner.
The Problem with Matrimonial Sites According to TrulyMadly
A little after the three left their former jobs, they saw the opportunity in the matrimonial and matchmaking space.
“People look at matrimony sites, but don’t relate to them as they have been functioning in the same way for the past 10-15 years. They work in the same way, the parameters are similar – caste, physical parameters, salaries etc. But if you talk to people today, they don’t really have these parameters on their minds. They’re looking for a relationship based on personality and value based compatibility,” says Hitesh Dhingra, former CEO and founder of Flipkart acquired Letsbuy.
How TrulyMadly Works
The three pain points of matrimonial and dating sites that TrulyMadly seeks to plug are positioning, compatibility and verification.
The company says that they are not a matrimonial site, but function as a matchmaking site that eventually could lead up to marriage.
Another key differentiation is its compatibility engine, says Hitesh. Once users register with the website, they have to undergo a psychometric test.
“Questions given evaluate your value system. There are 10 parameters that affect any relationship. Parameters like conflict resolution, how do you behave in a certain situation etc. Despite the few psychometric tests available globally, for India we had to come up with something new that considers Indian values,” says Hitesh.
The company hired a senior psychologist and relationship experts to work on this feature.
The portal also seeks to authenticate and verify a person’s identity. All users profiles draw data from their Facebook, LinkedIn and other social profiles for verification. In addition, users also have to submit one of five authorised legal documents (PAN card, licence, Voter’s ID etc), which is quite a barrier to cross when it comes to user adoption.
TrulyMadly assigns ‘Trust Scores’ to profiles based on the information provided. The information from psychometric tests, Facebook, LinkedIn data and personal preferences help generate compatible matches for users. Users can only view matches that are deemed compatible to them.
The company also employs offline partners to manually verify a person’s ID.
“There is no way we can verify online about businesses in a remote place. So we have partnered with companies, who will visit outlets to see whether users own it/are employed etc. Right now we have partnered with two companies that are credible enough. They perform the same services for banks, credit card companies etc. So they already have the infrastructure in place,” says Hitesh.
Since the website requires a persons’ social-networking profiles to be registered, it cannot be used by a users’ family members or friends, says Hitesh. The target age group for TrulyMadly is unmarried, young professionals from ages 23 upwards.
Ideation for TrulyMadly began in August 2012 when research began on the feasibility of venture.
The company had surveyed 2,000 couples and 3,000 singles to develop TrulyMadly. The service officially launched on February 14,2014. The bootstrapped company currently has 8 members apart from the 3 founders.
TrulyMadly plans to monetise through their subscription based model. Packages range from Rs 1k/month to Rs 7.5k/6 months. The higher the credit points, the more the user sees of a compatible match’s profile.
“For example if you get a “like” from some person or profile, and want to initiate communication, see his full name, or people who are connected to you on Facebook, you have to spend credit points,” says Hitesh
TrulyMadly will also launch their mobile version in a month with a view that 90% of their users will be off mobile.
Currently, TrulyMadly is only available to find matches within the Delhi-NCR region. However, users can register from any city. The company plans to hit 10,000 users in the next 3 months, and eventually expand pan-India.
While the intentions of TrulyMadly will suit the progressive thinking population in most/some of metropolitan India, the same cannot be said for the rest of the country. This is what TrulyMadly will have to work around.
Caste and community based matches still dominate in many places and these are exactly the segments that matrimonial sites cater to in their diversified forms. Will TrulyMadly be able to avoid this trap as it expands? If not, it will end up just like the other matrimonial/matchmaking sites, but with a verification system.
TrulyMadly will also have to cater niche segments that matrimonial sites have diversified into depending on region and language. TrulyMadly is definitely a way out for anyone who wants a more modern connect to matchmaking, and eventually can be a hit.