Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder & MD, BharatMatrimony

"Company’s free registrations have grown from 2.64 M in FY16 to 3.21 M in FY17, and the company aims to add more customers by offering customized products based on the consumer’s linguistic, religious, caste and community preferences."

July 18, 2017 12:21 IST | IIFL
Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder & MD, Bharat matrimony
Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder and Managing Director, BharatMatrimony (Matrimony.com), revolutionized the process of arranged marriages in India, by providing an online platform for matchmaking through its flagship matchmaking service BharatMatrimony. He conceptualised this business from a small Tamil Community site he created in 1997 to connect NRIs in the US that attracted a sizeable traffic in its matrimonial section.
The firm, which has recently filed for an IPO, has come a long way after it came into existence during the dotcom bubble burst of 2000. In a country where the rate of Internet penetration was only at 0.6% in 2000, Bharat Matrimony steadily grew its business to become one of the most profitable consumer internet firms in the country with over 3 million active profiles as of March 2017.
Replying to IIFL’s Priyanka, Murugavel Janakiraman said the company’s free registrations have grown from 2.64 M in FY16 to 3.21 M in FY17, and that the company aims to add more customers by offering customized products based on the consumer’s linguistic, religious, caste and community preferences.
In your opinion, what are the 3 major changes in the marriage services sector in the recent past?
Firstly, the mobile and internet penetration has been growing. Second, an increasing number of Indians are leaving their native places and moving out of India or their own societies in search of a job or a better lifestyle. Also, there has been an increase in the freedom an individual can exercise over life decisions.
In your opinion, what makes you better that your competitors in the field?
According to a report by comScore on traffic share distribution from April 2014 to March 2017 for Matrimony.com, Jeevansathi and Shaadi.com matrimonials, Matrimony.com is the leader for online matchmaking services in India in terms of the average number of website pages viewed by unique visitors. 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).
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. For example, we cater to the needs of various communities through CommunityMatrimony, a consortium of various matrimony portals comprising more than 300 community matrimony sites. We also offer personalised matchmaking services through Elite Matrimony and our Assisted Service package. These are offered through relationship managers.
We believe that a quality database is important in the online matchmaking business and is critical to building trust with users. We invest efforts and resources in maintaining and continuously improving the quality of our database.
Our strategy is to drive profile registrations and expand our user base by enhancing our user experience and engagement. We also intend to deepen our geographic penetration across all parts of India and continue to drive registrations through our mobile platform. As per industry estimates, KPMG’s analysis, the Internet and Mobile Association of India and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the number of internet users is expected to grow from approximately 462 million as of July 1, 2016 to 730 million users by fiscal 2020. We intend to continue to invest in our mobile platform in view of the increasing mobile usage among users in India. We have recently introduced mobile apps for our BharatMatrimony regional sites and certain community sites which have led to an increase in profile registrations.
We’re making all efforts to enhance the visibility of our brands, drive registration levels and result in increased conversion to paid subscriptions, which will consequently enable us to retain our leading position in the online matchmaking services market in India as well as maintain our position as the most used online matchmaking website in India.
A key strategy for driving monetization is to increase the length of our relationship with our customers and increase the amount of revenue earned from our customers by offering additional marriage services to our online matchmaking user base.
Marriage services that we have introduced in recent years include MatrimonyDirectory.com for marriage-related directory services, MatrimonyPhotography.com to provide wedding photography and videography services and MatrimonyBazaar.com to help customers in availing wedding-related services such as wedding apparel, venue, stage decorations, photography, make-up, catering and honeymoon packages from various vendors to meet customers‘ wedding needs. We have also recently launched MatrimonyMandaps.com, a wedding venue discovery platform, to help customers find the right venue for their wedding in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Trichy.
List the investors that will be making an exit from Matrimony.com through the IPO? What will their stake be pre and post IPO? 
EXISTING SHAREHOLDING Equity Offered  % Of Holding Offered Post Offer
Sr. No. Name of shareholders No. of Equity shares  No. of Equity shares No. of Equity shares
1 Bessemer India Capital Holdings II Ltd.                       1,461,006                        1,461,006 100.00% 0
2 Mayfield XII, Mauritius                       2,534,248                            155,760 6.15% 23,78,488
3 CMDB II                       5,049,622                        1,683,207 33.33% 33,66,415

Tell us about the issue size of the IPO. How will the company use the capital?
The offer details are as follows: Primary (Rs. in Millions): 1,300. Offer for Sale (in Equity Shares of face value Rs.5 each): 37,67,254.
The objects for which our Company intends to use the Net Proceeds are:
  • Advertising and business promotion activities;
  • Purchase of land for construction of office premises in Chennai;
  • Repayment of our overdraft facilities; and
  • General corporate purposes.
How big is the marriages service industry in India?  What is the market share of Matrimony.com, and out of that, what is the market share of Bharat matrimony?
Based on the KPMG report, (industry report dated May 4, 2017 entitled ―Market Study of Online Matrimony & Marriage Services in India prepared by KPMG) it is estimated that in 2016, of the 107 million individuals in India who were unmarried, there were approximately 63 million individuals in India who were actively seeking prospective life partners.
As internet and mobile penetration becomes higher, the online search for partners online will grow. According to the KPMG Report, the marriage services industry in India is estimated to be worth approximately 3,681 billion in fiscal 2016, with catering, decoration, venue, gifts and photography accounting for approximately 61.00% of marriage services spends in fiscal 2016. However, the majority of the categories of marriage services in India are unorganized and highly fragmented, presenting a potential opportunity for an organized aggregator to provide these services.
In terms of numbers, tell us about the customer base of Bharat matrimony and how it has fared in the past 3 years?
  • Our free registrations have grown from 2.64 M in FY16 to 3.21 M in FY17
  • Our active profiles have grown from 2.55 M in FY16 to 3.03 M in FY17 

What is the percentage of paid customers to the total number of your customers?
According to the Key business metrics report dated May 2, 2017 prepared by R.G.N. Price & Co., the number of paid subscriptions for fiscal 2015, fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017, are 647,000, 678,000 and 702,000, respectively. 

What are your plans to ensure sustained monetization given the challenges of translating customers into the paid category?
We intend to drive monetization of our existing user base by increasing the value of our network through expanding our user base, improving the quality of user profiles and improving the ease of searching profiles and the quality of search results and responses. We aim to do these by investing in technology to make our websites, mobile sites and mobile apps more user-friendly, continuously improving on existing products and services and creating more relevant new products and services, improving the quality of user profiles.
We believe that an experienced and well-trained service team is also critical to our efforts to drive monetization. In this regard, we intend to devote resources towards developing and expanding our sales infrastructure to provide quality support to our users. Through these means, we aim to encourage users to convert from free membership to paid subscriptions and also to upsell packages to, and improve renewals among, existing paid users. 

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