One of the earliest movers in the online matrimonial match-fixing space, Matrimony.com Pvt Ltd is all set for a listing in November. The company, which runs close to 300 matrimony and related online platforms including the flagship bharatmatrimony.com, is aiming to raise close to Rs 550 crore through its IPO. Launched in 1997, it took the company close to two decades to contemplate a listing as the online wedding market has taken its time building up.
In the past almost 20 years, the online wedding market has seen several new players come in while older rivals such as People Group’s shaadi.com, Info Edge’s jeevansathi.com and Times Internet’s simplymarry.com continue to grown. Yet, Murugavel Janakiraman, the founder of Matrimony.com, says 90% of the addressable market for online matrimony services remains untapped even today.
The company claims it had 568,000, 571,000 and 647,000 paid subscribers in fiscal years 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively. This, according to Janakiraman, is a fraction of the total addressable market. The untapped potential promises long-term growth prospects, something that Janakiraman is hoping will spur investors to participate in his share sale. Besides, consumer internet business is now coming together with the number of internet users now having built a considerable mass. Industry estimates suggest there are 375 million internet users in the country at present and a study by Nasscom says this number will grow to 730 million by 2020.
Matrimony.com will be the first-ever online wedding services provider and the second consumer internet company to get listed this year. Earlier in 2016, Infibeam Inc Ltd, became the first ecommerce company in India to debut on bourses with a Rs 450 crore initial share sale.
At present, Matrimony.com runs three wedding-focussed businesses – matchmaking, marriage services and related product sale. Last year, it acquired mobile app Matchify and Janakiraman says going forward, a lot of focus will be on building mobile presence.
In a conversation with Techcircle, over a cup of green tea, Janakiraman, talks about the past, present and future of the online match-making industry. Edited excerpts:
We have been reading about online wedding services for the past two decades. There are quite a few players in the market along side bharatmatrimony.com. Isn’t the market saturated already?
No, I don’t think so. There are 60 million people in India looking for a life partner, but only 5.5 million are searching for them online. So, the remaining 90% is a market opportunity which is untapped.
As internet speed gets better and mobile penetration becomes higher, the online search for partners is going to be higher, too. Wedding is a $54 billion industry but the sector, currently, is very unorganised. There will be ample growth opportunities going forward.
Matrimony.com began with just one web site but today it runs multiple platforms. Do you need so many diverse platforms to offer what essentially is a match-making service?
Besides match-making, we have now expanded into related wedding services, too. For instance, we now run matrimony photography services, something like an Uber for wedding photography in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on a trial basis.
Then, we have diversified into regional languages as well as community-based platforms besides Hindi and English. For instance, we also launched India’s first elite matrimony service for the rich and affluent. That is the reason, we now have more than 300 sites.
We have built a strong retail presence of around 155 outlets across India.
What is next for Bharat Matrimony? Are you expanding into other matrimony- related services?
Since we entered the market, we have seen mobile becoming a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. So now, we have mobile apps for all our platforms. In terms of traffic, mobile has become very significant for us.
We are also spending considerable time and resources on opportunities to leverage technology and data analytics for match-making.