Love in the time of algorithms
A few years ago, after Rahul Kumar, former product head at MakeMyTrip.com, returned to India from the US, he gave in to his parents’ wish of getting registered on matrimonial websites to find a partner. However, a ‘suitable’ girl for them was one whose caste and horoscope matched with Kumar’s. “But, I believed that compatibility is most important, but there was no way the matrimonial websites could determine that for me,” he says.
The website, TrulyMadly.com, ensures user safety with stringent online and physical verifications
Hitesh Dhingra, co-founder of Letsbuy.com, on the other hand, had to sift through fake profiles while trawling through matrimonial websites for his sister-in-law. Eventually, Kumar, Dhingra and Sachin Bhatia, former co-founder of MakeMyTrip, decided to come up with a solution to the woes many Indian singles would identify with — a way to find partners based on parameters which actually matter — personality, compatibility and immunity from impostors.
A website of a different kind
Launched in February, TrulyMadly.com, explain its founders, suggests matches to registered users based solely on their likes, dislikes, personality, inter-personal skills, life goals, problem-solving and shared values. With the help of a psychologist on board, the website makes suggestions based on psychometric tests.
Currently, says Kumar, many profiles on Indian matrimonial websites are managed by parents and there are singles out there who feel this may not be the best way to find a partner. “But they didn’t really have an alternative either. A user on TrulyMadly.com, however, is assured that all accounts are managed by the user, not the parents.”
Adequate security measures
The other, greatly pressing issue singles face is security, adds Dhingra. “There can be no fake profiles on TrulyMadly.com because of the security checks in place,” he explains. When a user signs up, the website scans through his/her online footprint and social networks, asks for an ID proof, verifies his or her employment status and also conducts a physical verification. Based on the information, the website assigns a ‘Trust Score’ to all its users.
In recent years, other services such as Floh and Footloose No More, have tried to fill a similar gap in the matchmaking scene in India by getting singles to meet and mingle at organised events. How then, does another matchmaking website bring value and relevance to the table? “We have had 5,000 users in three months, and over 300 singles have taken things ahead. A new-age website like this will certainly have a wider reach than organised events,” say Kumar and Dhingra.
For 32-year-old Saurabh Mittal, a good day is when he does not meet a “freak” from a matrimonial website. After meeting numerous swindlers and “weirdos” on such sites, he had almost given up the idea of finding a partner online. “I met people who were not remotely serious about marriage, or wanted property details and demanded money after a meeting or two,” he says wryly. What works for him on TrulyMadly.com, he explains, is the authenticity of users and the website’s emphasis on compatibility. “Unlike other websites, TrulyMadly.com’s matches are relevant — I actually have a common ground with the people I have spoken to yet, and that’s refreshing.”
For 27-year-old Sakshi Shah*, it is a relief to come across people whom she can have a thoughful conversation with. “My parents had been looking around for a bit, but their decisions start and end with words like ‘background’, ‘salary’ and ‘well-settled’. There has to be more to marriage than that, right?” Over this website, Shah says she has spoken to people who share her interests, life perspective and the dates “are not stifling and formal”.
(*Not her real name)