Startup Street: Is the pandemic pushing more Indians to online dating?
Ready for love
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about drastic behavioral changes, whether it’s working from home, managing finances, or even finding partners.
Widely used by millennials and now millennials, Aisle Co. has seen a widespread increase in all of its metrics since the pandemic hit India, signaling a growing need for relationships. Matches per user have increased 20% since April 2020, the dating and marriage platform told BloombergQuint.
The startup, however, sees itself as a high-intention dating platform, distinguishing itself from both marriage websites – where applicants are often spoken to by family – and casual dating platforms like Tinder.
There are two types of people in the online dating world, those who are lonely and those who are bored, said Able Joseph, founder and CEO of the company. The pandemic has brought both types of people to all kinds of dating apps. However, as the lockdown spread, much of that boredom turned to loneliness, he said.
“The pandemic has been a reality check for a lot of people who indulged in reckless encounters earlier. They recalibrate their lives and realize they want a stable partner. Joseph said June 2020 marks the “return of romance” among Indian users – people already somewhat romantic by nature.
A couple sits at Marine Drive in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh / Bloomberg)
While the seriousness of users is difficult to assess, the startup is seeing a reduction in the time it takes for a user to switch to a paid subscription. He also reported an increase in the number of younger users under the age of 26 who are taking a more serious approach to dating. Other than that, there was a 52% increase in likes sent by men compared to a 14.5% increase in likes sent by women. Level II users increased matches by nearly 23%, the startup said.
Aisle’s testimonial stays in line with reports of increased activity for most dating apps. In an interview with The Times of India, Bumble vice president of strategy and operations Priti Joshi reported a similar increase in high intention dating.
In an attempt to protect their user experience from a pandemic, Aisle launched a beta version of an online speed dating forum dubbed “Rooms”. Any user can create a “room” where potential matches can come in for a quick five minute audio chat at the end of which the host would have the option to correspond with them. These talks will be open and visible to all of us who, according to Joseph, give a level of comfort to Indian women.
Planning for a population boom
The youngest of the millennial generation are now 24 while the GenZs are also entering their twenties. Naturally, the country can expect a boom in the number of people looking for serious relationships over the next decade, Joseph said.
Aisle has a three-pronged plan to capitalize on this boom, Joseph said. The first is the launch of a slow-dating format more common in foreign countries where other potential people correspond in real life. The format will launch once the pandemic is relatively under control and local governments – some in unlock mode while others place more restrictions – give the green light.
The startup also plans to market the platform more aggressively to Indians overseas. Non-residential Indian registrations have also increased by 20% on the platform, likely due to international travel restrictions, he said.
A paid matchmaking service, which will be more expensive than the current premium subscription, will be launched before the end of 2020. In this context, the application will select and organize a list of potential matches for the user in order to better match their characteristics. and their expectations. If all goes well, Joseph is hoping that this service can be converted into an in-person matchmaking segment – a more polished version of “Aunt Seema” seen on the Netflix show “Indian Matchmaking”.