[Startup Bharat] Ahmedabad-based matchmaker platform helps the uber-rich find their significant other
Despite the proliferation of matchmaking services in India, finding the one isn’t easy. More so if you’re loaded! Ahmedabad-based Ultra Rich Match, India’s first matchmaker for millionaires, aims to solve this problem.
Founded in 2011 by Saurabh Goswami, this niche matrimonial platform has only one prerequisite for its clients: you must be a High Networth Individual (HNI) with a net worth of more than Rs 15 crore, or a professional earning more than Rs 50 lakh per year.
It all started when Saurabh Goswami, then 26, was living in Ahmedabad for work, and decided to get married. He soon realised how tough it was to find a life partner.
“I went to matrimonial agencies and websites, but I was disappointed and exhausted,” Saurabh recalls. This is when he grasped the need, especially among the elite business class, for a matchmaking service that was “truly different”.
Love is not blind
Saurabh, a computer engineering graduate with an MBA degree in International Business from Pune’s Symbiosis Institute of International Business, realised that first or second-generation wealthy Indians were finding it tough to find like-minded matches. Many of them had passed out of Ivy League schools, held fancy degrees, had travelled the world, and been exposed to different cultures.
“These people had started from a very modest living and had toiled to reach their current status. They were not just looking for similar status; they equally valued family background, a down-to-earth attitude, a hardworking nature, and a classy demeanour,” he says.
Saurabh began with a market survey of around 125 bungalows in a posh area of Ahmedabad. “My analysis revealed that this problem was even bigger for the ultra-rich as they also considered a probable partner’s financial background.”
His research showed that the rich “did not find quality profiles through existing channels”, were reluctant to sign up on matrimonial websites due to privacy and security concerns, and often faced the problems of fake profiles on online platforms. The survey also found out that, short of time, they “were keen on a doorstep service” rather than visiting marriage bureaus across the city or State.
This is when Saurabh, now 34, realised that there was a gap in the matrimonial sector that needed to be plugged. In November 2011, Saurabh, along with his mother, Rashmi Rani, started Ultra Rich Match with a seed capital of Rs 2 lakh. His mother, Saurabh says, apart from being his partner, brings maturity to the startup, and helps in counselling clients.
Saurabh says they ensure “exclusive, personalised services for millionaires”, who can access Ultra Rich Match via the app, website, and even offline.
A user needs to fill in the details and requirements, after which the startup's relationship manager (RM) calls the client for a deeper understanding and then provides suitable matches accordingly. On the app, the manager uploads the basic comprehensive list of prospective matches.
“We do not keep any profile online; all profiles are shared via personal emails or through our secure app. The applications, hosted on secure servers, are not open to anyone except verified clients. There is no option for random searching. We personally upload matching profiles for every client, and only those are visible to that particular client,” Saurabh says.
He adds that the startup follows a rigorous vetting process with three reference checks, including neighbour reference, business reference, and peer reference. The area manager personally verifies the client’s residence and office, and cross-checks references.
“In case of overseas profiles, we cross-check all relevant documents and do a background verification before granting access to the app,” Saurabh says.
The matchmaking startup does not keep any contact information on the app or website. “If a client likes the profile on the app, they take it ahead via their relationship manager,” he says, adding that unlike others they do not claim to provide a fixed number of matches per week or month.
A client typically pays between Rs 18,000 and Rs 1,20,000, depending on the package chosen, and pays an additional fee starting from Rs 88,000 if the match works out. The packages include Young Achievers, Premium, Royal, and Standard variants.
Incidentally, when he was not able to penetrate the market initially in 2013, Saurabh started Ultra Matrimony to cater to service class people. He ended up meeting Sonali, now his wife, through the website. “Her profile came in August, our match was fixed in October, and we got married in December 2014,” he recalls. However, that platform – though still present – is not operational now, as Saurabh is focusing only on the exclusive segment.
Game, set, match
According to the Asia-Pacific 2016 Wealth Report, by New World Wealth, India was ranked among the top five APAC countries in terms of number of HNIs (people having net worth more than Rs 25 crore). The APAC HNI numbers have increased by 115 percent over the past 15 years, compared to the worldwide HNI growth rate of 82 percent.
Going forward, HNI numbers in the Asia Pacific are expected to rise by 50 percent over the next 10 years, reaching around 5.2 million by 2025, the report added. Over this period (by 2025), India is expected to see a 105-percent growth in HNI population to 483,800 from the current 236,000, the report added.
Clearly, the market is there. And Ultra Rich Match is hoping to make a match of it!
Saurabh does not see matrimonial apps, including Elite Matrimony, Bharat Matrimony, Jeevan Saathi, Shaadi, and the many others dotting the Indian landscape, as competition. He believes that Ultra Rich Match stands out because of its approach.
“We do not just sign up clients for a fee. Our team personally visits their homes to assess their lifestyle and see whether they qualify to be one of our clients. We have a very transparent approach - we tell them upfront about the number of suitable matching profiles we have for them. If we do not have suitable matches/proposals, we do not ask them to become a paid member,” Saurabh adds.
The founder recalls that initially Ultra Rich Match did not have any profiles to share with clients and started out working for free. After 1.5 years, as their client base started increasing, they set a registration fee of Rs 1,000.
“The next year, we increased it to Rs 2,100, and the year after that to Rs 5,100. Even with an increasing client base and growing trust among clients, it took us five long years to reach our current package structure, which is still very competitive vis-à-vis our competitors.”
Saurabh says that while the matrimony industry’s success ratio (number of successful matches/number of registrations) is less than one percent, Ultra Rich Match has a success ratio of close to 10 percent. “Currently, on average, we have 35 to 40 profiles for every requirement that comes to us,” he says.
The startup claims to be growing at a very good pace, with a client base growth of about 15-20 percent per year despite the fact that clients who get married are no longer part of their database. “In the first year of our existence, we had 122 clients; now we have more than 2,500 clients across the world,” he says.
“In the last eight years, we have completed more than 248 successful matches not only in India but in the UK, the US, Switzerland, and Dubai,” Saurabh says. He claims 46 matches this fiscal year, and says they are targeting 80 matches in FY20.
The startup clocks about Rs 2 crore revenue every year, and has invested a total of Rs 2.5 crore into the business. “Our model requires a very low operational cost. We also do not have any loans. We are a liability-free company till date. We spend close to 10 to 12 percent on advertisements and marketing,” he says.
Happily ever after?
Saurabh claims that Ultra Rich Match is currently among the most popular matrimonial sites for the elite and rich in Western and Northern India. “Our goal for 2019 is to expand our horizon in South Indian metro cities. We are also in the process of opening an office in Canada within a year.”
Saurabh is confident about their growth and says that the startup is looking at multi-fold growth riding on the back of its recently upgraded app.
“Our app is already attracting four-five inquiries per day, including at least six overseas inquiries per week. Marketing this app is our only aim for the next year,” he says.
Saurabh candidly reveals that the startup is not in the market for funding as business is growing at a comfortable pace. “However, an investment of Rs 10 crore by the end of 2019 will help better our reach in overseas in markets like the US, Canada, and Australia, where there are many Indians,” he says.
He has big plans, including an IPO for Ultra Rich Match by 2025. “Our aim is to become a one-stop solution for all wedding needs, right from finding the perfect match to wedding planning and honeymoon package services,” Saurabh says.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)