India’s band-baaja-baaraat extravaganza is a spectacular $50 billion worth market opportunity. Second only to the US, this industry accounts for a significant amount of traction in related sectors as well, including luxury fashion (a whopping $1 billion industry), and the high-end jewellery segment. And to think of it, it all starts with the humble act of matchmaking.
While many would argue that internet dating has taken precedence over traditional methods of finding a suitable match, there’s a huge chunk of population which begs to differ. About 88 percent of Americans, in fact, said they met their partners offline, as per a Pew research report.
And finding a sweet spot between the legion of dating platforms like Tinder, Bumble, and Happn, and popular matrimonial services like Shaadi, JeevanSaathi, and BharatMatrimony is GoGaga, a friends of friends dating app.
Started by Neha Kanodia, 36, and Meet Kanodia, 31, in 2018 in Bengaluru, the network-based app, which is similar to meeting people offline, replaces a common intermediate with a trustworthy mutual friend who makes the introduction, and vouches for the connection.
“Think of it… how people make new friends in real life, via friends, over house parties,” says Neha, who is also the developer of the app.
The brother-sister duo behind the app
Incepted to bridge the gap in the Indian market to cater to young singles looking for a serious relationship, GoGaga is the brainchild of brother-sister duo, Neha and Meet Kanodia.
Neha, a techie with 14 years of experience as a tech lead for global organisations such as Oracle, Goldman Sachs, and Software AG, serves as the technical backbone of the platform. And Meet, an Electrical Engineer from IIT Delhi, with six years of investment banking experience in London, looks after the business side of the service.
Together, the duo is using innovation to help a generation, who much like them, have struggled when it comes to finding their significant other (SO).
That’s when one of his childhood friends, Ae into the picture, who introduced Meet to his now-wife. And this led to the idea, says Neha, that people introduced through common references are more real, have similar socio-economic background and credible information, which forms a better, stronger, and a longer connection.
The GoGaga team today is six-members strong (including the founding duo) with the app claiming more than 40,000 users, of which over 30 percent were brought in through word-of-mouth.
“Owing to the concept driven by matchmakers, GoGaga’s user base has more or less equitable distribution between men and women,” adds Neha, noting the platform has been growing at 22 percent MoM in terms of its user base.
Incubation at Facebook and a $40,000 grant
With its unique mix of tech and human moderation, GoGaga claims to successfully mitigate the problem of fake profiles, authenticity verification, and credentials differentiation when it comes to digital dating.
On the app, users typically have two options: First, the friends of friends mode, where a user can find a match for themselves, and second is the matchmaking mode, where one can choose to be a matchmaker for their friends.
GoGaga’s target audience is between the age of 21 and 33, with 90 percent of its current user base belonging to this demographic. Even as the team continues to experiment and explore with this model – a free-to-use app with some freemium features – its popularity has been steadily gaining steam.
The freemium model basically implies that the app is free to download, like most other apps in the market, but the user needs to pay to access certain features like ‘direct contact’, ‘remind’, ‘reconsider,’ and so on.
As Neha recalls, “We launched GoGaga during a cultural fest at IIM Bangalore. The app was very well received by the students and we got our first 100 customers as IIM Bangalore students.” The biggest validation for the Bengaluru-based startup, however, came from none other than Facebook.
In , GoGaga got shortlisted to be a part of the FbStart programme, which is an incubation programme from Facebook designed to help early-stage mobile startups build and grow their apps.