Online Dating Platforms Have Expanded The Mediums To Reach: Shalini Singh, Founder of andwemet.com
With a surge in dating applications, Shalini Singh, Founder of andwemet.com, a distinguished matchmaking platform, discusses the industry and how is her startup different in the crowd
How are Indian dating startups growing when compared to the global scenario?
India ranks fifth in terms of revenue globally in the online dating industry, with the USA leading the pack, with a revenue approx. 15 times that of India. India has enough young demographics and more headroom to move which companies are trying to capture. Though online dating apps have been in India for some time now, the industry is still in its infancy. Majority of the products offering these services are standard copy-paste of the models working internationally, which I believe is not the way ahead. Dating is a cultural activity and therefore it strongly needs a customised solution. There are brands in the market attempting to bring in customisation, but I believe that andwemet.com is leading the pack. The urban Indian population is asserting itself in all aspects, which includes how they would like to date or find a partner. We have been witnessing urban Indians being vocal on choices in career, relationships (both family and romantic), entertainment. We also see a shift in how we interact romantically and build emotional bonds away from prejudices and prejudged notions. The scale of this transformation is unique for India purely because of its scale-like everything the transformation comes with its fair share of challenges which include lack of patience and the immediate need for validation and gratification within a relationship. So in a nutshell, attracting urban Indians is an attractive market for matchmaking.
Brief us on andwemet.com and what have been your key observations over the years since you launched?
andwemet.com was launched with the idea of disrupting the dating space from swipe left / right to something deep and meaningful. We strongly believed that there is no product in the market which is approaching this space from other than physical attributes. We have been pleasantly surprised to receive similar feedback from the market since our launch, which has further validated our belief that there are individuals looking for a committed connect and companionship then a temporary affair. The fact that we have a better female to male ratio in our database, which bucks the trend, tells us that we have hit some chords well. Hoping we can continue to deliver and help our customers achieve their aim.
How are digital matchmaking platforms both a boon and bane for Urban Indian looking for committed relationships? How are the dating platforms solving the need for urban Indians in terms of relationships and matchmaking?
Indians are known to be traditional and shy and this is prevalent as we date. With dating being a private affair in India, the concept of online dating allows overcoming any such anxieties individuals may have to meet a new set of like-minded people. Online dating allows you the benefits for identifying a suitable partner and expanding your reach exponentially, whilst keeping quality in your control. The quality and authenticity of profiles on these platforms have always been an area of concern. In addition, most of the platforms in India are inclined towards promoting selection primarily on physical attributes, which while being important is not necessarily the only criteria of selection whilst seeking a committed relationship. Companies have different strategies to offset the above two concerns and differentiating here would possibly be the USP for success.
What sort of dating graph can be referenced from your learnings with andwemet.com?
It is common knowledge that the majority of individuals are looking for companionship, irrespective of their personal choices and preferences. This has been well documented, however, the means and modes of achieving the same have always been a challenge, encompassing human thoughts into a limited set of variables. However, at andwemet.com we are attempting to address this issue.
Specifically, for older singles, dating can get a little hard. What was the thought behind andwemet?
Finding a meaningful relationship requires an investment of time irrespective of age. However, as we grow older individual choices get firmer and the ability to compromise reduces, while clarity on what an individual wants improves drastically. We believe that there is no correlation between age and difficulty in finding a match, hence there is no cookie-cutter approach with regards to relationship rules.
Fake profiles can be a huge threat for someone looking for digital matchmaking how can we ward off the same Also on automation and manual screening, do you see a tipping point?
Fake profiles are a huge issue – it could be with regards to anything - their name, gender age etc. Dating as we mentioned is a personal and cultural thing, therefore only mechanising/ automating does not work. AI could to some extent replace the manual screening which is some time away. At andwemet.com we have chosen a hybrid approach wherein at the first step the process of onboarding acts as the first filter, followed by a mechanism of automated and manual screening.
How can digital matchmaking platforms assure that there are lesser disappointments for someone signing up for the first time?
Matchmaking is a human emotion – and disappointments can happen easily when it comes to the matter of the heart. The aspect which reduces any heartburn is only and only open and clear communication. We at andwemet are attempting to do the same hereby through a rigorous process of onboarding which for some could be lengthy, but we believe is essential if you are true to yourself for searching a committed relationship. Philosophically speaking disappointments are a way of life so you must take them as they come, however, you can work actively towards reducing them. We believe for most finding a match needs dedicated effort, investment of time, and a platform which will help reduce such disappointments.
With so many players in the online matchmaking space, has it had an impact on how India dates or perceives love?
As I have been stating above, a relationship is a cultural thing and it is at the core of each community, hence difficult to change. What the online platforms have done is provide a medium to expand the reach, but now how we think or believe.
Safe dating experience is a demand echoed regularly by users, especially with instances of offenders being found on some dating apps. How can online dating get safer?
Being in a safe space is an integral human need, hence extremely important and a basic hygiene factor. Multiple companies have used means and modes to offer the same, to some degree of success. We as have stated before having taken a hybrid approach, attempting to offer this safety net by understanding human behaviour and using of available tech and tools. That being said, safety here though being a broad word includes digital security, profile validation, content proofing (to the extent possible), providing a safe space for expression and the list goes on. We go out of our way and take pride in the fact of providing this to all our patrons.
What are some of the trends that you think will change the online dating space of India?
I do not know if we can spot a trend – because relationships are not about trends – it is about being invested in or not which will continue as it did. We also see relationship maturity setting in as early as mid 20’s vs in 30’s because the current generation gets an initiation to a relationship in their teens. Committed relationships are here to stay but getting married may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The good thing that would happen in the coming years is an openness of accepting friends and family on the gender choice. I have faith that India as always would lead here showing the world what it means to respect relationships.
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