This month, Exhibit interviewed Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of Bharat Matrimony which is one of the first sites to provide matrimonial service in India. Sharing his journey, the company and thoughts on India as a startup hub, he gave us an insight into the mind of an entrepreneur.
Exhibit: How easy or difficult was it for you to set up an online business at the time when internet wasn’t that prevalent?
Murugavel Janakiraman: Nothing in life comes easy. I was able to bootstrap and start, grow the business and overcome the challenges. The initial days were tough. People were not aware about it and internet speed was not good those days. But, we always looked at every challenge as an opportunity.
We did not have any external funds. Our dependency on revenues generated by us for the growth and expansion kept us going. We tried to keep costs down, innovate continuously and keep growing. In fact, our first round of funds came five years after we started.
“ Put your best efforts and takethe outcomein a positive way ”
Exhibit: Looking at how many online matrimonial websites exist in the market, how do you try to set Bharat Matrimony apart?
Murugavel Janakiraman: Our brand, BharatMatrimony. com, has been ranked as India‘s most trusted online matrimony brand by The Brand Trust Report India Study 2014 (a study covering 20,000 brands across 16 cities).
As one of the first companies to provide online matchmaking services in India, we believe that we have an early mover advantage among consumers seeking online matchmaking services. As of March 31 2017, we had a large database of profiles comprising 3.03 million active profiles (being profiles that have been published or logged in at least once during the prior 180-day period), which we believe creates a network effect that attracts more users to register or subscribe through our websites, mobile sites and mobile apps. It also results in higher customer engagement, which in turn drives monetization of our user base and enables us to maintain a leading position in the online matchmaking market in India.
We differentiate ourselves from other players in India by following a micro-market strategy whereby we offer a range of targeted and customized products and services that are tailored to meet the requirements of customers based on their linguistic, religious, caste and community preferences as well as personalized matchmaking services through EliteMatrimony and our Assisted Service package.
As of March 31, 2017, we had 140 retail centers distributed across India where potential or existing customers can walk in and seek the assistance of retail executives to register on our websites and/or make payment for the matchmaking product or service of their choice.
Exhibit: What are the positives and negatives about India as a Startup hub?
Murugavel Janakiraman: Unlike the past, money is available now in the market for start ups. But, a start up will succeed in the right kind of environment. New startups have to build trust and capability.
Exhibit: What are your thoughts on the current trend of dating apps? Is it affecting the use of Matrimonial websites?
Murugavel Janakiraman: Matrimony has wider acceptance in India. Dating apps are struggling to raise funds. Young people might use these apps for friendship but when it comes to marriage, they would come to matrimonial sites. Each is a different segment. India has a largely traditional user base so these apps are not going to work here.
Exhibit: Which are your favorite influential and inspiring books? Which books would you suggest readers to get their hands on?
Murugavel Janakiraman: The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Sean Covey, Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.
Exhibit: Best piece of advice given to you.
Murugavel Janakiraman: Rather than best advice, I’d say the life philosophy that I follow – Put your best efforts and take the outcome in a positive way.