Wedeterna is an online matrimony site that showcases self-created profiles and lets people get in touch with potential matches.
At a glance:
Founder: Saneesh Sukumaran
Year it was founded: 2015
Where it is located: Kochi
Sector: Online matrimony
Ask anyone looking for a life partner, and there will be a tale. Whether it is the story of two prospects meeting, or the fact that parent-approved profiles differ greatly from the individual, and arranged marriages are not so easy to arrange. It was to change this, and bring in a different approach to arranged marriages, that Saneesh Sukumaran founded Wedeterna.
Wedeterna is a platform that lets a prospective bride/groom “self-arrange” their marriage. Unlike other matrimonial sites that focus on the parents, Wedeterna is designed for those who want to give traditional arranged marriages a shot, without leaving things entirely to family and/or relatives.
“We’ve created innovative profile features that bring out personality and character traits apart from other vital information. As the profiles are self-created, you get to share your thoughts on everything and what you actually want, making it easier for people to interact, share, and connect.”
A user registers on the website with details, including his or her bio and “expectations”. This is followed by an extended bio and a list of questions that the user has the option to answer. These answer files are hidden from public view; only a user who chooses to interact with another user gets to view them. The same goes for photos: users get to see two photos; to see more they have to interact with that particular user. This is done to ensure safety and privacy.
If a user upgrades their membership to premium, they can request another user’s contact details, send their contact details to other users, and also send messages. When someone receives a contact request, s/he can decide whether to share information – either their own or their parents.
On traditional matrimonial sites, becoming a paid member gives access to other users’ contact numbers and address details; this doesn't happen at Wedeterna. Information sharing is fully under the member’s control. The team has also tied up with an agency for background verification of the profiles; education, work, and address needed.
“I don't think there was a Eureka moment. Some awkward marriage stories from friends and family, and a small number of my own experiences led to the thought: why can't we have a better representation of people and have a platform to be open and connect each other? Initially, the idea didn't seem feasible, and it took a lot of research and preparation before we took the plunge,” Saneesh says.
However, getting the first set of users was a challenge as the team was sure that they didn’t want to use a dummy for a fake profile. With over 13 years of experience in the IT services sector with a focus on product and growth, Saneesh knew that to sell the product, his team would have to work on creating awareness as well.
While he had started the business with his personal savings, he was soon able to get angel funding from a Singapore-based investor, Avish Joseph. So now he had to pitch the idea to everyone he knew and spreading it through word of mouth. Saneesh says they focused on women-centric places and activities.
The team took time to build the site, by talking to people and roping in the right team. Launching in early 2016, the team has built a member base of over 12,000 users.
Wedeterna follows a subscription model similar to existing matrimonial sites like Matrimony, Shaadi and JeevanSaathi to name a few, which have premium memberships.
While there is a growing market for online matrimonial sites, Saneesh believes cracking the market takes time. The strong market works on word of mouth.
According to CerraCap Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm, the market for wedding-related services in India is close to $40 billion. The Wedding Brigade, in India Mumbai-based company that offers marriage ceremony solutions, raised $1 million early this year.
A KPMG report states that India’s annual spending on marriage-related services is at $57 billion and there are over 100 million unmarried Indians between 18 to 35 years. A 2016 Ken Research report stated that the online matchmaking industry would touch revenues of $318 million by 2020.
The team claims their current revenue is over Rs 1 lakh. “We are looking at a review stream from the Wedeternashop and other niche services that will be offered,” says Saneesh.
One of the challenges in revenue generation, according to Saneesh, is the customer acquisition cost.
“We are launching a way users can send gifts to other users without knowing their phone or address. We are probably the first to try such an initiative in India,” Saneesh says.
Apart from matchmaking, Wedeterna aims to be a one-stop solution for wedding needs. “We plan to launch a gifting platform, followed by an ecommerce wedding store (WedeternaShop). iPhone and Android app launches are also planned in the next quarter,” Saneesh says.