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Article by Mohan Babu


The business of online matchmaking

Among the scores of business ideas out there, online matchmaking has continued to see phenomenal growth. MOHAN BABU writes about the Internet matrimonial and matchmaking industry which is grossing billions of dollars a year

A few months ago, in this column, we looked at the re-emergence of Internet business and business models based purely on the Web. Though much of the hype and discussion on the second Internet boom revolves around Google and its impending IPO, numerous small and micro businesses have found a globalised platform and audience, thanks to the power of search. Similar is the case with businesses surviving under the umbrella of eBay. Marketers are also predicting the resurgence of online advertising, especially because of optimistic predictions from the likes of Google and Yahoo that have shown millions of dollars in revenue from such advertising.

I have been a close follower of online trends, right from the heady days of dotcom boom when I helped co-found—a niche portal for NRI and Indians in the US—that continues to operate to this day. Since the late nineties, several business models have emerged and floundered on the Internet. Many will recall the “eyeball exposure” days when the worth of a portal was valued by the number of eyeballs or hits. Since the tech crash, some sanity has returned to the online world where entrepreneurs continue to make money with their innovative business and operating models.

Among the scores of business ideas out there, online matchmaking has continued to see phenomenal growth. The global Indian online matchmaking and matrimonial business has carved a niche for itself in the cyberspace, and alongside, has lead to a small revolution in the way the tech savvy youth of our generation are contemplating finding a match. The Internet-matrimonial and matchmaking industry is grossing billions of dollars a year and the South-Asian wedding market is experiencing a boom. The Economist magazine estimates the market to be around $11 billion with a growth rate of about 25 percent per year. Indian matrimonial sites and portals have created a successful business by blending personal touch with technology, grossing millions for the entrepreneurs behind the scenes.

The topic is interesting because of both the technical and business angle and as I started gathering data for this column, I decided to expand it into a two part series. In this part of the column, we will look at the innovative use of technology and in the next part we will examine the business model.

Innovative use of technology

Cyber marriages, e-dating, e-mail-love (a la “you’ve-got-mail”) have been eulogised in endless articles in the media, sitcoms and movies; so, what’s new? Not much, except, as the novelty of the Web wears off, so does the infatuation over falling head over heals over an unknown face one met on the Internet. Matchmaking itself is an intricate and complex affair involving innumerable variables including the elusive ‘chemistry,’ ‘love’, etc, which are hard to describe, more so in the Indian context where the families get really involved.

Over the decades, several technologies and techniques, including classified advertisements in newspapers and magazines have been used to expand the scope of one’s search for the ideal partner.

In India, where the concept of ‘arranged’ marriage is still pervasive, individuals also look forward to different channels so that they have a ‘choice.’ Technology is cutting through traditional avenues of matchmaking for Indians, following the western trend where dating sites are among the most highly ranked Internet portals. The demand is definitely there: Educated urbane youngsters contemplating matrimony are increasingly using the power of the Web if not to find “the one” but at least to get a few referrals that they can vet. Use of Internet and the Web is therefore the next evolutionary step in the match-searching process.

The pervasiveness of the Web is fueling an extremely strong business model, as was evident from my recent discussion with Murugavel (Muruga) Janakiraman, founder/ chief executive officer of, which is actually a collection of regionally focused matrimonial portals with a similar operational engine. Muruga got all animated while describing the success of his portal, claiming that they had successfully matched over 20,000 marriages, including his own: If eating one’s cooking were a measure of success, this is truly a selling point! A team at Sulekha, a popular Indian portal, spent months seeking to build an interactive portal for matrimonial and launched ‘Sangam’ earlier this year (

Developing a matrimonial portal is not rocket-science per se since the technologies to integrate search, posting, validating, etc, exist; however, the power of such portal is in the human angle of controlling coordinating and managing the operations. Most online portals employ individuals who vet each posting and photograph for content, accuracy, etc, and to ensure that the bad apples stay away.

In the next part of this column, we will take a closer look at the business models adopted along with the challenges faced by matrimonial portals.





About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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