Averaging three weddings a week, how Dil Mil is trying to capture the hearts of South Asian expats

1st Apr 2016
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Positioned as a matchmaking platform for South Asian expats (and locals), Dil Mil helps users look for dates or serious relationships. The startup claims to have facilitated over one million matches on its platform so far, while averaging three weddings a week.

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Image credit: Shutterstock

Dil Mil works on the similar premise of other dating apps in the market, but has a few tweaks that help it stand out. As is the norm, users can anonymously like or pass potential curated matches but Dil Mil introduces an ephemeral element here as other users can see your pictures for only five seconds. The startup most recently closed its pre-Series A round and is looking to leverage video and virtual reality in its next update.

How it works

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Users can sign in through Facebook, and also have the option of signing in through LinkedIn and Instagram, if they wish to. Dil Mil then directly pulls photos, name and age of the user from these social media platforms, to populate some of the user’s details.

Then based on a few user preferences- age, height, religion, community, education, country and occupation (the quintessential parent checklist) and its machine-learning algorithms Dil Mil shows potential matches that may be of interest to the user. Users can also specify which country they want to see potential matches from.

To ensure only authentic users, Dil Mil claims to perform multi-source verification based on external data sources to weed out fake profiles. There is a predefined limit to the number of people one can see each day in the freemium version of the app. Users can upgrade to the 'VIP version' to see unlimited profiles everyday and to also ‘rewind’ and go back to an older profile. 

Story so far

Dil Mil was founded by KJ Dhaliwal, Tom James Holub, Sukhmeet Toor and Jacob Ilin in October 2014. The startup’s core belief is that while love is an inalienable right for people, finding a significant other is often a draining process. So their aim is to make it easier. KJ, CEO said,

Our focus on product and user experience has created an app with over 200 million decisions, one million matches and on average three marriages a week.

Dil Mil sees strong growth throughout the diaspora markets (the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia) as well as in India, where adoption and usage is surging. In May 2015, Dil Mil raised a $1.1-million round of funding and today announced that it had raised a pre-Series A round of $2.7 million.

Some of the investors in this latest round include- Nelstone Ventures (Rich Nelson's fund), Transmedia Capital, Maiden Lane Ventures and CSC Upshot. Dil Mil’s investors also include angels- Naval Ravikant (founder of Angel List), Kunal Shah (Founder & CEO of FreeCharge), Sameer Parwani (Founder & CEO of CouponDunia) and Vijay Ullal (Founder of Victory Ventures)

Going forward, Dil Mil aims to continue growing its team strength and also experiment and harness emerging technologies to make communication easier. While Dil Mil feels that it has become adept at utilising machine learning to help users discover their best possible matches, it considers video to be the next frontier. KJ, said.

Our next step is to expand beyond text and allow users to better understand each other within the app before meeting in real life. We are currently working on facilitating video dates and will be rolling out virtual reality dates shortly thereafter.

Dil Mil also added that based on the data it has collected through testing and market research, it had validated its video and VR strategy. KJ added, “Many successful Dil Mil matches that lead to marriage are long-distance relationships. So adding video and VR elements can help speed up the process. Also, it will help lower the security concerns of women who use dating apps, especially in India.”

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The team

Sector overview

Online matchmaking is slowly coming of age in India because of the convenience involved and also because technology has penetrated almost all other aspects of our lives. Bharat Matrimony and Shaadi.com are among the top players in the online matrimonial space in India.

Coming to dating, Thrill had closed a seed round of funding from investors in India, Singapore, and the US in 2014. TrulyMadly raised Rs 35 crore in funding from Helion Venture Partners and Kae Capital in March 2015. In April 2015, Matrimony.com invested an undisclosed amount in acquiring dating app Matchify. There are a few smaller players such as Woo, newer entrant Cogxio (previously DateIItians), iCrushiFlush, and Aisle.co (which recently closed a pre-Series A round of Rs 1.25 crore from TermSheet.io and ah! Ventures).

On the global front, Tinder is the most recognised player in this sector and its parent company Match.com filed for an IPO in November 2015. Then there are players like Hinge, which raised $12 million Series-A funding round from Shasta Ventures in December 2014; Coffee meets Bagle, which raised $7.8 million in a Series-A round in February 2015, PlentyOfFish was recently acquired by Match group in July 2015.

Dil Mil aims to stand out in this sector by focussing on a niche audience of South Asian expats thereby increasing the odds for a potential matches.

What we liked

While there are many dating apps in the market, Dil Mil is able to stand out because of its ‘ephemeral photos’ which creates a sense of urgency and the ability to look at potential matches based on specific location (countries).

The sign-up process was smooth and easy. The learning curve is also almost non-existent for anyone who has tried out a few other dating apps. Dil Mil’s app also has a tab for its blog, where it shares dating tips and tricks as an add on.

What could be improved

While the user interface is good, there is room for improvement to making it more seamless. For example, images of potential matches currently take up the whole screen and users need to go through all the pictures, before they can learn the potential matches exact age, profession and other details. While this may be a deliberate move, including multi-screens for images and user details would make it easier for users to make better decisions.

YourStory take

With Asia being one of the fastest growing markets for smartphones, and Asians spread all over the globe, Dil Mil has a concentrated niche market to go after. As a lot of the matches could be long-distance relationships, it will be critical for Dil Mil to crack the video and VR features to help it achieve exponential growth. The backing from marquee investors and angels has given the company the necessary firepower and resources that it will need in its goal to capture the market.

Website: Dil Mil

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