Despite frosty fund raising scenario, matchmaking continues to be hot as matrimonial app for South Asians, Dil Mil, on Thursday said it has $ 2.7 million in its Pre-Series A round from a clutch of investors. The money would be used to experiment and harness emerging technologies and expand the product offering.
The investors in this round include, Nelstone Ventures, Transmedia Capital, Maiden Lane Ventures, CSC Upshot, Naval Ravikant (founder of Angel List), Kunal Shah, Sameer Parwani and Vijay Ullal.
“The landscape is always changing and one of our core advantages is our ability to experiment with and harness emerging technologies to enhance human communication. Our next step is to expand beyond text and allow users to better understand each other within the app before meeting in real li ..
How the founders found their match: The startup’s founders – KJ Dhaliwal, Jacob Ilin, Sukhmeet Toor and Tom James Holub come from different backgrounds and met in the most unusual manner. Dhaliwal and Toor met at a Google event in Mountain View several months after Dhaliwal had moved from the east coast. Holub was Dhaliwal’s first Airbnb guest in San Francisco and Ilin was friends with Holub.
In the winter of 2013 Dhaliwal came up with the idea after watching several cousins struggle. Despite their accolades, his cousins were having difficulty finding suitable people to date and marry.Dhaliwal noted the success of mainstream dating apps and realized the South Asian matchmaking space was ripe for disruption and in desperate need of innovation.
“Once South Asians exhaust their pre-existing offline social graph, they are struggling online to meet and marry quality people. Social norms are drastically changing. The arranged marriage model is no longer serving the needs of today’s generation. Indians throughout the world are looking to discreetly and safely match with other high-caliber individuals. They are searching to forge these meaningful relationships locally and in other countries,” says CEO of Dil Mil and a former Wall St. trader, KJ Dhaliwal.
The offering: Dil Mil is a matchmaking app connecting South Asians across the globe. “Social discovery is turbocharged with our machine learning algorithms which is working to quantify human emotion and truly predict compatibility,” says Dhaliwal, 25. It offers comprehensive user profiles with Facebook login and optional LinkedIn and Instagram integration.
Potential matches can be in multiple countries simultaneously but a user can specify what country they want to see people from. The startup uses multi-source verification (use external data sources to verify if you are a real user or fake profile) and detailed partner preferences gives users the ability to search based on Age, Height, Religion, Community, Education and Occupation (the parents’ checklist).
The opportunity: Over 50% of India is under the age of 30 and unmarried. Paired with unprecedented growth in smartphone users, the market is massive. Currently, Dil Mil pegs the global addressable market at over 80 million, with smartphone penetration being the only limiting factor. India is projected to be the 2nd largest smartphone market by 2017, surpassing the US and catching up to China.
Dhaliwal and Toor initially funded the startup and took about six months to go from ideation to execution. The two were both working full time jobs and spending their weekends building Dil Mil as a side project. In May of 2015 Dil Mil raised a seed round of $1.1M Between January 2015 and 2016, the total matches for the startup has seen a 2,500% growth (50,000 to 1,300,000) and total messages have seen a 2,100% growth (1,000,000 to 22,000,000). About 3000 new users log in every day and the startup has also been able to capture over 20% of the NRI market and now quickly moving into India. The startup says is has been able to recover everything it has spent on marketing so far.
The app is free, but there are certain paid products within the app, so it’s a freemium’ model. The current products are a monthly VIP subscription which unlocks more features and a la carte product which allows you to purchase more likes called “Dils.”
Dhaliwal says Dil Mil is different in the essence that it is helping people find committed relationships that lead to marriage. “Most dating apps are trying to capture the short term relationship space similar to Tinder. As we are the most popular and trusted dating app for South Asians in the Diaspora (the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia), we are not only connecting people locally but also are connecting NRIs and Indians. The number and quality of these transnational matches is unparalleled and gives us a unique position in the market,” says Dhaliwal.