might have a firm grasp on the idea of online matrimonial websites, but
dating on the other hand is not something that a lot of people are
comfortable doing, or even talking about, and the country doesn't really
have many online dating sites. That's something that is changing and
today you have a lot of different options.
Beyond the norm: Matrimony sites that focus on small groups reap big
Agnihotri came up with the idea of starting Dating army special forces units in florida
four years ago, when she was at a Holi
party. The idea of a website that would allow "modern, urban Indians" to
choose their own partners and go from dating to perhaps matrimony at
their own comfortable pace seemed worth doing. Since she didn't see too
many alternatives in India, packaging the site in a "different" format
would be the key.
Agnihotri, who met her husband at that
Holi party, started to work on the site, and decided that instead of
matching people based on an algorithm, the site screens all
applications, and then hosts a curated meet-up for new members. The
catch is that you can't use the site just to meet people online - if you
miss three Footloose events in a row, then your membership is revoked.
Indian dating site is Dating chat free site canada and usa, whose
co-founder, Rahul Kumar, says the website is a modern-day matchmaking
service that relies on "scientific methods" to match people.
website works on a social algorithm to connect likeminded individuals
who are looking for serious relationships," says Kumar. "The algorithm
is based on an exhaustive research conducted by a team of psychologists
who have derived a set of personality attributes responsible for a long
term, successful relationship. The site then matches profiles of people
based on who they are, what they are looking for, instead of traditional
matches based on caste or location."
A site that caters
to both Indians and NRIs, Dating flats to rent free classifieds has a
similar approach, and takes care not to identify itself as an
online-dating service. Its focus is on using the Internet to make it
easier to meet people - offline.
The charges vary -
Footloose No More has a free membership, while Truly Madly charges Rs.
100 for each connection. Sirf Coffee takes a hefty $325 (nearly Rs.
20,000) per year as a membership charge.
Footloose No More claims
to have 5,000 members, mostly from Mumbai and Pune; Delhi and Kolkata
follow, and then Bangalore and Hyderabad. Truly Madly claims similar
numbers, while Sirf Coffee, which has a much higher cost of entry,
claims to have around 1,100 members, of which around half are in India
(mostly Mumbai again) and the rest are NRIs.
The India model
methods and curated meet-ups sound good, but most e-commerce ventures
had to be tailored to meet the needs of the Indian market. Simply
bringing international ideas to India has not been very successful. And
that is why a lot of these websites in fact brand themselves as working
on a "relationship management model" or "modern day matchmaking".
the case of Sirf Coffee, which uses the "relationship management
model", and launched in 2008. Sunil Hiranandani, founder, insists that
Sirf Coffee is not an online-dating service.
"It is about
getting to know a client on a personal level," says Hiranandani. "A user
directly meets a hand-picked date over a cup of coffee (or cocktail),
and get to know them in person, as opposed to online."
online dating sites in the West, where there typically is a lot of
interaction between people paired by computers until they actually meet,
Indian sites seem keen to offer a boutique service of hand picking
people to meet in person, instead of having to get to know each other
through a computer screen. The stress is on helping you find long term
relationships, and not just casual dating.
"We ensure a
pressure-free environment where you can be yourself, deriving comfort
from the fact that you and date tick each other's boxes," adds
Hiranandani. "You can exchange numbers if you like, date for years, get
married next week, or simply leave after a casual drink. There is
opportunity to move forward, without the obligation to do so."
No More's curated events also keep the interactions offline. You can
see people on the site, but you can't message them on your own. The site
matches you, and brings you together at the "curated" events, so there
is no "awkwardness or stigma". Agnihotri says these events help people
come out of their shell, but allow them to take things forward at their
And indeed, people aren't all comfortable with
the idea of dating sites, something that Truly Madly's Kumar says the
company has been trying to change.
"We recently launched a
social media campaign called Dating free new online sites for singles over 40+ which was aimed at
disproving stereotypes, thereby supporting compatibility and personal
interactions among individuals," he says.
Kumar, people in India want "more choice in their matchmaking decisions,
but don't want to tell people - particularly their parents - that they
are registered on dating websites."
An online-offline hybrid
That's why sites like Sirf Coffee and the others try to sell the idea of a mediated experience, instead of online dating.
Agnihotri says that on Footloose No More every member who gets approved gets a screening call.
she must submit documents proving their authenticity," says Agnihotri.
"We check their Facebook profiles, their LinkedIn profiles and finally
when we meet them in person is when we decide if the person should be a
member or not." Truly Madly also verifies identity, though they don't go
as far as requiring in-person interviews.
Sirf Coffee also
interviews clients in person, and Hiranandani says that if a client can
not come for a personal meeting, then they arrange a Skype interview.
to him, "the purpose of the interview is to ensure we are bringing on
board a 'matchable' client. Folks that have strong character,
interesting backgrounds, a positive attitude, and a genuine intention of
dating to get married."
The model is continuing to develop; this
is a business which has not really taken off in India yet, and the
various players are still working things out.
have foreigners yet on our site [Footloose No More], so we would want to
look into that," says Agnihotri. "We are also launching a mobile app."
Hiranandani also believes that the model at Sirf Coffee can lead to
growth outside cities like Mumbai, and he says Chandigarh and Ahmedabad
are next on his list. Truly Madly has similar plans, with iOS and
Android apps on the card, as its looks expand to other cities.
whole idea is to get more and more people involved and remove this fear
and stigma associated with online dating," says Kumar. "And the more we
reach out the easier it will be."