We have written about some dating site ventures in the past, but what better day to revisit online dating as a business than the Valentine's Day. So while the more well developed matrimonial sites target a different set of audience, the new-age dating sites look at igniting the courtship period (which may make the need to go to a matrimonial sites redundant, at least, for some of its users). Let's start with the younger of two funded startups.
Last year, same day we wrote about TwoMangoes.com, which launched its India edition around that time. TwoMangoes is a dating site targeted at South Asians across the globe. It has a presence in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and the UAE apart from India. The venture raised angel funding from Andy Jasuja, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sigma Systems, last year.
The startup claims it also received interest from external investors but declined the offer. Jas Banwait, one of the co-founders, said the investors asked for 50 per cent stake: "We didn't want to give away that much. More than money, we are looking for strategic partners and investors who can help us take it to the next level."
Last we checked, the site claimed to have made 50,640 'connections'.
A larger peer group venture is StepOut, which has more than doubled its user base in the last two years. Currently its stat counter shows it has over 4.5 million users. This works out to be around 1 lakh new users a month.
StepOut (formerly known as Ignighter) raised $3 million in funding two years ago from a group of high profile investors including Rajan Anandan and Sasha Mirchandani besides Sunjay Guleria (CEO of Exclusively.in which is now a part of Myntra).
StepOut has both free as well as paid services available.
The online dating arena is flooded by many more sites like iLovedating.in, Indiandating.com, Ditto.co.in, Floh.in and more. Out of these Floh is an invitation only, fully-paid service for like-minded singles to interact over various activities. Ditto, founded by Mumbai-based Shweta Aggarwal, also tries to match profiles on the basis of interests. There are many options for the lonely hearts to explore, it seems.
It is not clear how scalable these ventures can be in India from a revenue angle. Given that none of them have gone ahead to raise a larger VC round of funding, this seems to remain a challenge.
While matrimonial sites continue to rule the roost in India, dating sites sure have a business case with the new generation. What is your take on how soon can these love-on-the-cloud ventures can become bigger than the marriage matching services?
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)