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Published on: Jan. 25, 2021, 3:05 p.m.
Matrimony.com and the joy of match-making
  • Janakiraman is his own ‘most satisfied customer’

By Sekhar Seshan. Consulting Editor, Business India

Not everyone may have heard the song 'Matchmaker, Matchmaker...' from the old-time hit musical movie Fiddler on the roof, but software quality engineer Nikhil Supekar decided to find his life partner by himself and not depend on an agent or relatives. So, Supekar, who works in an IT company in Pune, installed the Matrimony.com app in October 2019 to look for a bride. He found her the very next month – Ankita, who lived with her parents in Kopargaon, which is a town in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, about 200 km from where he lived. “We got engaged in December and got married in February 2020,” he says.

“The application process is simple, with proper community-wise filters,” adds Supekar. He used the Marathi portal, and they followed the traditional ways too: they first told their parents; then their families met to decide on the marriage.

In Bengaluru, Trisha and Neeraj Shah too chose Matrimony.com – for a variety of reasons. “I am not the first one in my family,” says Trisha. “Earlier, too, a close relative had got a good match from the site. This marriage gave us more confidence.” Matrimony.com, she points out, also sorts out and lists traditional matches via a search based on one’s preferences. This saves everybody’s time. 

“We met in Bengaluru,” she adds. “Fortunately, there is a ‘preferred location’ option. Neeraj and I were both looking for a partner based in ‘preferred location’.” Now that they are happily married, they are looking for a match for her younger sister on the same site.

The Supekars and Shahs are only two of the hundreds of thousands of happy couples who met through Matrimony.com and its many different services that are targeted specifically at members of different religious and community groups. Murugavel Janakiraman, founder-CEO, Matrimony.com, is his own ‘most satisfied customer’, he says: he met his wife through the site.

“It was definitely a great feeling to meet Deepa through my own service,” he grins. “I had never imagined getting married to someone from as far away as Gujarat. What’s also unique about this relationship is that both our parents’ names are the same!” 

Janakiraman, who was born and brought up in Chennai, always wanted to do something on his own and ‘drifted’ into what he does. He began by providing services to the Tamil community in 1997, when he was working in the US. Online matrimony, which was one of the sections he offered on his site, evolved into a business, TamilMatrimony, when he saw good traction and seized the opportunity. Today, he says, “My life revolves around it – it’s my purpose, my identity and business too.”

Specialised services

He has since built up his first venture into a Rs390 crore global giant, with five million active members served by an on-the-ground network of 130-plus retail centres in India and a team of more than 3,000 people – creating a culture of intrapreneurship, passion and ethics – guided by professionals at the top, to deliver match-making, marriage and other services to Indians and the Indian diaspora through its websites, mobile sites and mobile apps.

The company has introduced several specialised services like EliteMatrimony.com and Community Matrimony.com, a consortium of over 300 community matrimonial websites. Along the way, it earned a listing in the Guinness Book of World Record for the Largest Wedding Photo Album, which was unveiled eight years ago on Matrimony Day, 14 April. The 13.11 ft by 17 ft album, weighing more than a tonne, contained original wedding photos contributed by couples around the globe and took a team of 15 craftsmen over two weeks to fabricate.

“Everything evolves,” Janakiraman says. “In the early days of the internet, online matrimony was not the first choice; but today it’s the primary choice for people. Preferences change over time -- but the joy is in helping millions of people find choices that suit them.” 

When it was a one-man show, his wife supported him by taking calls and doing a bit of administrative work. “She was fully supportive of my entrepreneurship journey. We do discuss ideas and business at home. I don’t think you can separate an entrepreneur from his business anytime,” he points out.

The first pure-play consumer internet company to be listed on stock exchanges, Matrimony.com boasts the position of category leader in online matrimony with a 60-per-cent market share. It chalked up one of its best in terms of billing volume in the July-September 2020 quarter, with a 25-per-cent year-on-year growth. “We expect the double-digit growth to continue in both billing and revenue,” he says.

Matrimony.com continues to differentiate its service through constant innovation of new features and technology. “It’s important to for customers to feel safe and secure in their journey to a happy marriage. Our industry-first safety feature SecureConnect helps members to receive calls from prospects without revealing their mobile number, and our ‘Who Can See Me’ feature gives them complete control of who can see their profile and contact them,” Janakiraman explains. “We continue to focus on innovation to empower our customers to stay in control during the search for a life partner.”

A host of new services

The Covid-19 crisis impacted the first quarter of 2020-21, he admits. “Our operations were a bit disrupted, but we have bounced back in Q2. With a strong billing growth of 13.5 per cent y-o-y and 18.5 per cent q-o-q in matchmaking, net profit surged 31.2 per cent y-o-y and 9.6 per cent q-o-q,” he points out.

With over 10-12 million weddings in a year, the industry seems set to keep growing, and Matrimony.com is riding the wave with its range of services aimed at making its members’ wedding dreams come true. Estimates are that at any given time, about 60 million people are looking for life partners in India. Of these, six to seven million register on online matchmaking sites and about 1.3 million find a match.

The Indian match-making industry, estimated at $40-50 billion in size and projected to reach $184 billion by 2020, is a highly fragmented market, informs Statista research. As Janakiraman’s company enters its 20th year, it reaches out to not only South Asians across the map (in countries like the UK, the US, Sri Lanka and Malaysia), but also has opened an office in Dubai in 2019. 

Especially during the recent lockdowns, with people confined within their houses, Matrimony.com has taken leaps to innovatively help its members connect with their potential partners through its newly-launched ‘HomeWedding’ service. This facility brings all the wedding services to the doorstep, free of cost, with a video calling feature to facilitate communication.

Over the years, the company has been expanding into a $55-billion marriage services market. It is now offering a host of new services – MatrimonyPhotography, MatrimonyDirectory, MatrimonyBazaar and Mandap.com – of which MatrimonyBazaar is being rated and verified by rating agency CRISIL as reliable and trusted wedding service providers. It also has a Horoscope Online offering. Its stated goal is to build a billion-dollar company, which will be a long-lasting institution with a legacy for the generations to come.

Beyond business, Matrimony.com is also a conscientious corporate citizen, with a span of CSR activities that include BharatBloodBank.com, BharatEyeBank.com and AbilityMatrimony.com. With more and more single Indians saying ‘Match me a match’ to complete the movie song, the company is obviously on a song.

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