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Siddharth Mangharam, Floh: “The existing option of matrimonial sites is completely broken”

Team YS
10th Aug 2011
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Floh

Floh is an invitation-only network for single people. We at YourStory.in recently caught up with Siddharth Mangharam, Founder & CEO of Floh. In this conversation with YourStory.in, Siddharth tells us more about his journey.

What is Floh all about?

Floh is an invitation-only network for single people. Being single in India is tough and we want to make it easier by creating great events where singles can meet other like-minded people outside their family and job networks. Besides having fun and learning new things, Floh members come to our events to find new friends, activity partners and romantic relationships.

How are you different from other such players?

We have two big differentiators. Firstly, we screen each and every person who shows an interest in Floh before they can join the network. We are selective because we must maintain the high quality of our membership so that our members feel very comfortable at our events. Our members are professionals, entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers who are well educated and have a great deal of energy. Our members are accomplished, love new experiences, and have open minds.

The second differentiator is that we organize events where people meet in person. We don’t believe that relationships can be arrived at by using a computer algorithm. People have to meet in real life to determine the chemistry between them. For our events, we go beyond the basics to ensure that the event dynamics help keep conversation flowing and help members meet as many new people as possible without any awkwardness. We spend about 100 man hours planning an event that may last just two hours.

We see ourselves as leaders in applied human behavior and our events borrow heavily from the ideas of evolutionary psychologists like Robert Wright (The Moral Animal), Dan Ariely(Predictably Irrational) and Richard Dawkins(The Selfish Gene). You can say that Floh is the intelligent single person’s solution to meeting like minded people. You can read more about what inspires us on our blog www.singleinthecity.in

This is interesting. What motivated you to start Floh?

The idea for Floh was born out of conversations with our single friends – the guys are always complaining that there aren’t any single women and the single women are usually wondering where all the single men have vanished! And yet, it’s apparent that there is an abundance of single men and women around. The real issue is that there isn’t a platform for them to meet. Very simply, Floh is a platform to bring single people together at awesome events with the objective of meeting like minded people.

We operate a very lean business that gives us the flexibility to experiment with different types of events. Our technology budget is one of our largest spends because we believe that a constantly evolving social media strategy will help us to scale up our business.

What’s your background?

Floh is my second startup. Prior to founding Floh, I was the founder and CEO of Peek India, a venture backed startup dedicated to bringing email to the masses. Before getting into the entrepreneurial mode, I did work at McKinsey and Co. Inc., Microsoft Corporation and The Coca-Cola Company, in the US and in India. I have an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, but I’m clearly a Bangalorean at heart!

Tell us about partnerships that helped you.

We have a blue-chip partner network that includes Olive Beach Restaurant, Touche Golf School, Weber Grilling, Jagriti Theater, Lourd Vijay’s Dance Studio and dozens more. Our partners have been our strongest supporters and advocates since they realize that the Floh members are precisely the profile of customers they would like to attract. For example, Olive Beach has offered their restaurant to us as a ‘Floh Space’ to hold events on a regular basis. We recently conducted a Photography and Sangria event there and are planning many more.

Our wait list has a backlog of over a month. Most events are sold out shortly after they are announced. Our members have consistently rated us highly in our post-event feedback and referred close friends and family to the Floh network.

Where do you see Floh five years from now?

In 5 years, we hope to have operations in 8 cities across India and in areas with significant Indian diaspora such as US, UK and Australia. We are on track to become a thought leader in the field of applied human behavior and relationship building and a market leader in social events, personal development, and emotional well-being services to singles.

How do you make money? Are you looking to fundraise?

Our revenue model is based on membership fees and event fees. We are privately funded and are not looking to raise money right now.

What is the best thing about working for Floh?

The biggest kick is in knowing that Floh is addressing the most basic human need for companionship. The existing option of matrimonial sites is completely broken. Humans are social beings and Floh is helping singles connect with like minded people in a very natural fashion. This is a powerful purpose that’s worth my time. Also, it is a privilege to work with a truly world-class team. Of course, like every entrepreneur, I go though cycles of good days and bad ones.

Tell us about your team. Are you looking at hiring?

We are a lean and agile team of four founders, all of who have entrepreneurial backgrounds. I am the CEO. Simran manages the membership and event execution. She is a successful entrepreneur, having co-founded a recruiting company. She’s also been Pandit Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar’s tour manager for many years. Having organized events across four continents and for audiences in excess of ten thousand, she’s eminently qualified for this role. Akshay is the CTO and was one of the founders of Activesphere, prior to which he was at Thoughtworks for several years. He has consulted with companies like Goldman Sachs, McKinsey & Co., Barclays, Caterpillar in the past. Sid is our product guy who oversees the overall user experience. He was a co-founder with me at Peek India and is heading off to HBS this fall from where he’ll continue contributing to Floh.

Are you looking at hiring?

We are hiring and are currently looking for smart people with events experience. We are also looking for behavioral scientists in the field of applied human dynamics to help us crack the code on helping men and women find compatible partners through our events.

Share with us your expansion plans.

We are currently expanding our team to launch in Delhi and Mumbai by the end of the year and we plan to be in most big cities by the end of 2012.

Anything else that you want to share with the readers of YourStory.in?

It’s been just over 2 months since we had our first event, and we’re quickly tracking towards a thousand members in Bangalore. Women in particular feel very safe at our events and since safety is a top priority for women, we have slightly more women(55%) members than men!

Other interesting observations are that despite being inherently social, every single event starts on time. This is because our members are really looking forward to Floh events and we’re clearly delivering a lot of value to them. Some of our most popular events have been a grilling session with Manu Chandra, the Executive Chef at Olive, a visit to a winery, and we’re also planning an exclusive Vintage Car and Martini Sunday which has already sold out weeks in advance! We also have a lot of folks from Mumbai and Delhi calling us to enquire about setting up Floh in their cities. We hope to be there before the end of this year.

We at YourStory.in wish Siddharth Mangharam and the entire team of Floh good luck with their venture. Do check out this space for more details about Floh and on their website http://floh.in/. And, share your thoughts on this story by writing to us at feedback@yourstory.in

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