Matches may be made in heaven, but LoveVivah turns it into a reality in a stand guard environment
In any individual’s life journey and milieu, the role of social institutions is of utmost importance. Such an institution is ‘marriage.’ Be it a liberal society or a conservative one, the concept of marriage is present in almost all kind of societies across the world albeit in different forms. The history of marriage is as old as the rise of civil society, earlier in pre-historic times, in the hunter and gatherers society, there was no requirement of such institutions. As these nomads settled into agrarian civilizations, the society had a need for more stable arrangements and further in time it transformed marriage from a civil institution to more of a social one. Although, the role of state and religion in this social contract is undeniable. Religion gave marriage a sacramental outlook and status. The state acted as an arbitrator in property issues.
Earlier nuptial knots were tied for practical reasons, the idea of romantic love came very late, giving women greater leverage and independence from the servitude of men. Over the period of time and in different cultures marriage as an institution evolved in different forms. In this evolutionary phase, arranged marriages became a popular concept in the western world until the 18th Century and the Oriental world as of now as well. The rise of political and social liberal values along with economic prosperity in the west made the traditional form of marriage associations wither away, but it still remains a dominant force in the traditional and conservative societies.
The middle class and nuclear/small family are the unit structure of a nation-state. Unlike many socially advanced countries, Indian society still adheres to more of a traditional approach towards marriage institution. Although, economic liberalization has lifted many from poverty and added to the rising middle-class. But the impact of liberalization limited itself to the economic aspects only. In the absence of a liberal yet hassle-free life-partner finding Platform, a majority of the middle-class families still rely on the traditional system of arranged marriages only. According to a study by Statistic Brain, around 55% of marriages are arranged worldwide, and around 90% of marriages in India are arranged. These statistics indicate the conservative and traditional approach of Indians towards the life-partner finding process.
Surprisingly, in the economics lexicon, the matrimonial market is the only industry which has developed an indigenous model of business activities after taking careful and meticulous consideration of the conventional local social and economic realities. The wedding industry in India is over $15 Billion, and the online matrimonial market is expected to reach $318 Mn by 2020. We recently caught up with Gorav Agarwal of LoveVivah.com. He explained in details about the organization. Here are some of the edited excerpts from the conversation.
India is a big country with a very large population and one of the very few societies in the world that still adheres to traditional values. Marriage is the biggest part of society still done in a traditional way, whether arranged or a mix of arranged-love marriage.
In the start, I researched the matrimonial industry’s established players. Initially, it was all word of mouth. But in the late 90s, the motility of the Internet space brought major disruptions and changes in the social fiber. Due to the policies of economic liberalization and rise of nuclear families, growing middle class and large-scale participation of nouveau riche independent individuals created an atmosphere that encouraged young Indians to look for life partners through these platforms.
The standing pillars in the whole matrimonial industry are the trust factors, reliable information, transactions, and conversations between parties and the matching ability. These features were totally lacking that I found through various media sources and even through various snippets of media interactions of Maneka Gandhi, Head of Ministry of Woman & Child Development. Around three to five years back, there were many scandals and a lot of harassment cases with women because of the dating sites in the guise of matrimonial sites were used to harass and stalk women members. Security and trustworthiness became the biggest issues faced by the industry and government. And surprisingly, nobody tried to address the issue, not even the industry. There were only verbal deliberations but hardly any action on the ground.
I am socially active in Indian society on the humanitarian grounds and CSR activities. Initially, we only worked on CSR side of things; tried to educate other players for making more secured platforms but nobody paid much heed. So, we finally took the matter in our hands and established LoveVivah.com in 2012 with the only aim of providing secured, safe and trustworthy platform for marriages. We were in fact differentiators with an authenticated portal and five-point authentication program where all the profiles and data information are linked to Aadhaar, emails, mobiles and social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn which is a very secure social media platform used by employers and employees alike. LoveVivah provides more authenticity, trust, and peace of mind particularly to the female members and their parents so that their quest for matches and marriages occur in a safer & secure environment. We do heavy screening and authentication for every profile, no matter how premium the profile is. Nobody is given access to the database without various authenticated parameters.
And soon, we became a recognized name and growing very rapidly since inception, recalls Gorav.
Compliance with the social realities
Marriage is a very complicated institution in various ways, and it is the biggest decision anyone makes in his or her life. We try to match up the social, professional, location, family compatibility, and other social stratifications with our in-house designed algorithm in such way that while registering on the website, our authentication process gets all the documentation from various people, Aadhaar, driving license, passport. LinkedIn provides us a professional depth into profiles. Facebook gives us the social stuff, friends and the family.
We combine all the information into a particular profile giving us a very good idea about the person. Considering the reliance of Indians on the date of birth, horoscope and spiritual stuff, we have added free horoscope. After combining all these salient features, we create the matches for prospective bride or groom. Further, in the process, we send every member some sample profiles for feedback and accordingly, we further screen the profiles. It becomes an ongoing improvement process and eventually after back and forth, we come up with a very precise match for each individual member, explains Gorav.
Difficult situations & Security
Situations, when no suitable match is found, are very rare, thanks to our big database. Once in a blue moon, these difficult situations arise. To address this issue, we arrange a personal meeting with the respective member to understand the specific needs which are leading to unsuitability. 80% of the time such members are dealing with the communication gap or have such needs which they don’t require in reality. Most of the time, in these meetings, the members ease out which bring out a solution, and things work out. In a worst-case scenario, still, when no match is found, we advertise for those profiles. Even if the member has very stringent or some very specific requirements, we still don’t give up. We explore the market, different regions and come out of the impasse eventually.
We have our own cyber-security team very well linked with the cyber-security teams of Central government and the respective state governments. If there is a case of any breach or any activity carried out with the intent of malice, we take strict measures. Our response time is within 24 hours, after deactivating the accused’s profile from the database and downloading all their personal information, we take suitable legal actions and try to set-up an example to act as a deterrent for others. In my hitherto journey in this domain, I don’t remember any such case happening so far, affirms Gorav.
People who approach us, among them the percentage of males is comparatively more than females, and this doesn’t mean the female segment is unavailable. The reason according to me is that males are more forthcoming, extrovert, open, so, they register themselves more easily. Au contraire, females are little reluctant and don’t easily expose their details on a public platform. The females are always more comfortable in personal meetings or conversations over the phone rather than putting up their profile. But after holistically understanding the whole process and getting the secure vibe, they come forward to register. In the end, everything balances out, says Gorav.
Bursting the Myth of Sisyphus
We all are a family and very well connected to each other. We have our own personal activities. The biggest motivation for each one of them is like the roles and responsibilities are very well defined for every individual they know about their daily, and monthly schedule and there is no conflict, and there is no micromanagement. People have their own space to work and perform. The biggest thing is we still have people who joined us in 2012 working with us. It gives a very good reference that we started with five people now we are a team of more than 200 people. Everybody likes a growing environment, and we are growing fast year by year and quarter by quarter. We are adding new locations. We are adding new portfolios or new companies, new vendors, and new partner companies. This growth attached brings a sense of belonging to the whole process, and the whole project becomes the biggest motivator for all of us, claims Gorav.
Leadership and Accommodation
I left India in 1999 and settled in New York. So, a good time of my life was in the US. The modus vivendi of US has been totally different from here. My time spent in the U.S made my leadership style very transparent and down to earth. In the U.S nobody is forbidden or unreachable. As an owner and president, I always work closely with my executives, sit with them. As a leader, I become one of the team members and working with them motivates me, motivates my team and things work out.
When I was about to start LoveVivah, the initial biggest challenges for me was understanding the fiber of the Indian society, their work style, and acclimatizing to the Indian environment on both personal and professional and corporate level. Slowly, I ramped up myself while facing a lot of ups and downs. In this domain, we meet a different kind of people with different requirements and different world-view, it becomes a learning process. More challenging the more interesting. Nonetheless, this has been a very good experience, and the matrimonial domain itself is a very interesting subject. We want to cater to every kind of demands of people. We don’t want to segment ourselves to a single field. According to societal needs, the market is responding. Although currently, we are only dealing with the traditional heterosexual orientation marriages only, if any such situation arrives, we are definitely open to serve. As the things remain within the legal framework and socially acceptable or approved by the local administration, I don’t see anything wrong in them, Gorav explains firmly.
The Industry & Future plans
It is pretty much evident that the industry is in the nascent stage and has a long way to go. The statistical data reveals that all these internet platforms handle only 2% of the matrimonial market. So, there is a huge gap, and the reason is that people are slowly familiarizing themselves with this format or probably waiting for a secured and more authentic platform where transactions are carried in a safe environment. India has the largest youth population, and eventually, they will get married. Now their wait is over. I personally think in the next five or ten years this sector will witness huge growth.
The parent company is based in New York and a huge domestic presence with a head office in Gurgaon and other offices in Noida and Hyderabad. We are also planning to open up another office in Mumbai in mid-Feb 2019. The 80% of our services are dedicated to the domestic market and rest for the Indian Diaspora. There is a huge market left untapped, and around 98% is still unexplored. The matrimonial market is maturing. It is getting more secure to provide a more stable and safer environment.
With this entrepreneurial effort, we want to bring Indian diaspora closer to its culture and roots. In the globalized world, people are living in and out of India, and I guess marriage is the best way to connect either side of the sea, Gorav envisages.
A piece of advice
My advice would be, anyone who wants to enter matrimonial domain should have a personal feeling and knack of these social things, not just the business prospects. This domain needs the attention of the body and the soul. I remember before I started LoveVivah, I was setting-up marriages for my knowns, friends, and relatives. I used to find a lot of excitement and satisfaction in the matchmaking otherwise also. In this domain, business comes second.
Gorav Agarwal is a multi-lingual speaker, serial entrepreneur and the Founder & President of LoveVivah.com, an innovative matrimonial platform. He is an astute leader credited for successfully running several ventures in the Technology & services for around 20 years. His venture in the technology industry helped him set up Tanisha Systems, a leading provider of Custom Application Development and end-to-end IT Services to clients globally.
LoveVivah.com is his dream project. It is a leading technology-driven Indian Matrimonial matchmaking service provider with mandatory 5-point verification. The company is committed to providing a 360-degree solution to all prospective brides and grooms. Gorav not only focused on the domestic market but took it abroad with the prime focus the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Singapore.
Apart from the Business ventures, Gorav is also a social worker. He adopted Dangra village in Distt. Tohana (Fatehabad), Haryana as a part of his social initiative and is taking care of the welfare of the villagers on a regular basis.