This woman entrepreneur’s dating and matchmaking app focuses on South Asian singles and parents
As a single South Asian woman in the US, Nisha Mohan discovered that dating can become a very exhausting activity if one does it long enough.
“With the way dating apps are set up today, it results in endless swiping and surface-level conversations, often not leading to anything fruitful. In parallel, it’s customary in South Asian culture for your parents to help you in finding a partner as well,” Nisha tells HerStory.
“However, the parents’ search happens separately through their own avenues. In my mother’s case, she was manually scouring hundreds of posts on Facebook and messages on WhatsApp groups trying to find me a match. My brother and Co-founder, Sishir, and I were contemplating my experiences and realised that both singles and parents have the same goal – finding a life partner – but they conduct their search in silos, resulting in miscommunications and inefficiencies,” she says.
As a UX researcher, Nisha felt it was important for her to truly understand the problem, so she interviewed US and Canada-based South Asians singles (men and women) and South Asian parents and realised that the problems she faced – with respect to dating apps and the siloed nature of parents matchmaking – extended to others in the South Asian community as well.
Based on their learnings from extensive user research and competitive analysis, they realised they had an opportunity to address key gaps in the dating industry for South Asians in the US and Canada. This data was foundational in informing the design and build of https://www.findishq.com) that allows singles to find love with intentionality, on their own, or with the help of their family and friends., a South Asian dating and matchmaking app (
For South Asian singles and parents
The “entrepreneurial fire” runs in Nisha’s family. Her grandfather was the first to take on the risk and built a locomotive-based company in Bengaluru. Following in his footsteps, her uncle built a business in the same industry.
Nisha has a BS in in computer information systems and an MS in human computer interaction, and works as a User Experience (UX) Researcher. She was born and raised in Bengaluru, India until she was 10 years old, and moved with her family to Minnesota in the US. Since then she moved close to 10 times, and have lived in several states in the Midwest and West coast of the US. Nisha is based in Seattle, Washington.
Explaining the pain point behind ISHQ, Nisha says, “ISHQ is unique in many ways. We wanted to focus on building something that addressed the needs of South Asian singles and parents. Culturally, having parents involved in the dating process is common among South Asians. Since the goal of finding a partner happens in a very siloed manner between singles and parents, we designed ISHQ so both groups can actively cooperate and communicate on one platform, and achieve their shared goal of finding a life partner.”
She says it was also important not to build another addictive and gamified dating app that resulted in what she, and many others experience today, a sense of dread when it comes to dating.
“There are zero dating avenues and apps prioritising the needs of South Asian women, and we wanted to change that. The core setup and features have been informed by South Asian women’s behaviour, needs, and experiences in dating, and have been built to empower women and improve their dating experience,” she adds.
According to Nisha, some features that make ISHQ unique include:
- You receive only three profiles a day in your daily picks. You’ll receive these at 10 am PST/1 pm EST, and these change every day.
- Once you match with someone, the entire app turns into a chat, and you won’t see any other profiles. This way you can focus on building a meaningful connection with that one person. In order to go back to viewing other profiles you need to un-match with the person you’re chatting with.
- Singles can invite friends and family onto the app as “matchmakers”. Matchmakers can view profiles everyday as well, and have the ability to send them to the singles or other matchmakers they know on the platform. Both parties need to be on the app to be able to view and share profiles.
- To encourage women to ask for what they need before making a decision on a profile, a “maybe” feature can be added. They can choose “maybe” to save and revisit the profile later or request more information (more photos or answers to prompts) before making a decision.
Her co-founder, Sishir, has a BS and MS in computer engineering and currently works as a product manager. He has designed and built ISHQ from ground up, and brings product and technical expertise to ISHQ.
For meaningful and long-term relationships
ISHQ’s target audience and product is US and Canada focused at the moment.
“We are targeting single South Asian men and women approximately between the ages of 22-35, based in the US or Canada. We’re targeting those who are looking for meaningful and long-term relationships within the South Asian community, and are open to involving their community members (trusted friends and/or family) to help them in the process,” Nisha says.
The app is currently free to use.
“We are still testing our product and features with our users and are not focused on revenue generation,” she says.
While there are many dating apps out there, Nisha considers Hinge, Bumble, and Coffee Meets Bagel as its direct competitors. In the South Asian realm, its competitors are Dil Mil and Mirchi when it comes to dating apps, and also websites like Shaadi.com and Bharat Matrimony.
“However, none of these apps provide the unique features we do, especially in bringing both friends/family and singles on to one platform, and prioritising the needs of South Asian women by indexing on intentionality and focus when it comes to dating. We’re continuing to stick to our uniqueness, user needs, and creativity to enhance the South Asian dating experience,” she says.
Nisha says ISHQ has received tremendous support from the South Asian community, especially South Asian women.
Its biggest challenge has been repeated rejections from Apple’s App Store. Apple considers dating apps to be spam, even with ISHQ being culturally niche, unique from other South Asian dating apps with the matchmaking component. It is currently on Testflight for iOS users.
“We plan to continue listening to our users’ needs and feedback, promoting ISHQ, and being innovative with the features we release. We want to explore areas of funding by applying to accelerators to help us grow and expand our offerings,” Nisha says.
Edited by Teja Lele