“Be humble and don’t get carried away by success”
If life were as predictable as day and night, would it be interesting? Murugavel Janakiraman, the first one to go to high school in his family, just took what came his way and then built something he liked with passion and ultimately took care of signposts that signalled at every turn of his business to become a success that he inspires a whole new bunch of entrepreneurs in the Internet space. As he took the stage to deliver the keynote at the Chennai Regional RoundTable of TechSparks 2011, the full hall was squeezed to rapt attention. Starting with his education in which he was forced to take up statistics in undergrad rather than his preferred chemistry as his marks were low, he took up the advice to join MCA as he was good in logical thinking. As a normal middle class family employee in software, he travelled to Singapore and the US for his job assignments.
His life took a turn in the US. He was experimenting with application-based forums on the Internet for the Tamil community in the US such as calendars to read various auspicious timings, etc. Then he added matrimony to his service. The traffic to matrimony was highest and there was an instance adoption by the visitors to that page. Moonlighting on his day job, he only had passion in mind and no business model. He even placed fliers in malls and grocery stores to drive traffic to his site. The recession then led to his lay-off from job and he came to India to start his own office, a modest 300 sq. ft. facility at T. Nagar and was lucky to hire a University of Madras gold medallist as his first employee. The rest as they say is history. His first advice was “keep experimenting till you find your business and as a startup sell your vision to your prospective employee.” In his view, online websites are not good for matrimony but his investors dissuaded him from settting up offline stores. That proved to be an advantage later.
“I am married to Bharat Matrimony and was married through Bharat Matrimony,” he says matter of factly. At every stage of his business, he found solutions for problems such as password protection for images. Even horoscope matching is automated once you register. He then said, “don’t be rigid about your idea but be flexible.” He encouraged entrepreneurs to adapt to customer demands. At every instance, diversification is possible in the core category. When recession hit in 2008, it proved to be a boon as investors wanted his company to cut costs. They reduced expenses by Rs. 2 crores in 4 to 5 months.
“Growth is limited only by our ability to innovate,” said Muruga, referring to various initiatives that Bharat Matrimony took to scale. Community matrimony such as Christian matrimony and even a 40+ matrimony (caste no bar after 40!) are the various categories of services and as much as seven segments are available. There is even Pakistan matrimony and Sri Lanka matrimony now. And with deeper insights, they are moving to gifts for friends on their wedding and gifts for anniversaries.He underlined his personal philosophy that proved to be crucial for his success. When you hit a roadblock, it is your passion and persuasion to stay and innovate matters. “Unintended consequences will provide far more better results,” he said referring to his forced changeover to statistics. He partnered with leading portals such as rediff.com, sify.com to offer matrimony thus making it a paid service as he started. In 2008, the recession helped him become the CEO from the entrepreneur.
He went on to say that entrepreneurs should remain humble and should not be carried away by their success. Entrepreneurs need energy to overcome daily challenges in business and so being wedded to a higher purpose through your business is fulfilling. “The nation needs good citizens and for that you need good parents. To become good parents, you should marry and for marriage there is Bharat Matrimony,” is his higher purpose thinking that drives Bharat Matrimony.
–Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist