Murugavel Janakiraman was working as a consultant in New Jersey in 1997, when he built a portal for Tamils, the community he hails from, as a hobby project. One of the services on the site was matrimony listings, and when he listed himself and heard from his future father-in-law which resulted in a successful match, he was fired up. He realized that the Internet could solve a big societal problem – that of helping young Indians meet their life partners – as they moved out of their joint families and into cities far from home. He returned to his native Chennai and founded Bharatmatrimony.com as India’s first pure play online marketplace. He visualized the service like IAC, and grew it into a network of sites. Today, its flagship brand Bharatmatrimony.com is India’s #1 and most trusted matrimony service with over 45 million registered members.
We had experience guiding consumer Internet brands in India through makemytrip.com, so brought a prepared mind and led a round of funding in 2008.
Some key milestones during the company’s 20 year journey include:
- Launching 15 language-based regional services including BengaliMatrimony, MarathiMatrimony, TamilMatrimony, TeluguMatrimony and KeralaMatrimony;
- Launching over 300 community-based portals;
- Pioneering the MatrimonyMeet concept for offline-online integration and opening 140 retail venues;
- Launching personalized services such as an Assisted service for busy professionals, EliteMatrimony, an exclusive service for the affluent, and Doctorsmatrimony for medical professionals;
- Pushing the envelope on technology by embracing IVR, data analytics, AI and machine learning;
- Expanding into wedding services with WeddingBazaar, offering access to catering, clothing and beyond from more than 40,000 service providers in 73 cities across India; and Mandap, a venue discovery service listing 10,000 wedding halls in 23 cities;
- An industry-first security feature aimed at women, called SecureConnect, enabling women to receive calls from male members, without revealing their contact details.
It took a long time for the company to realize its financial value, going public on the Indian stock exchange in September 2017. Murugavel is a great example of one of my core beliefs, that company building is a marathon, not a sprint.