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BW Businessworld

Match Making The Indian Way

Able Joseph’s Aisle is cashing in on the Indian ethos and culture which lay stress on meaningful and long-lasting relationships rather than casual dating

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STARTING AS A MUSICIAN over a decade ago, Able Jospeh has come a long way, donning many hats along his journey. It was after a sequence of jobs, last one being in Dubai with Citrus TV Channel, and sukar.com, that the idea of Aisle materialised. In May 2014, Aisle kicked off and is presently gener­ating a profit of Rs 7.6 crore as of FY2020. The industry’s size is estimated to be $1.3 billion.

Aisle strikes the middle path between traditional matrimony websites and casual dating applications. They build prod­ucts that help Indian singles find meaningful and long-lasting rela­tionships. Aisle was initially built with the millennials in mind, but towards the end of 2017, it had an organic explosion of Gen Z audience.

With the digital space booming and online dating becoming popu­lar, Joseph says raising finances during the pandemic was hardly prob­lematic. 

“Some industries stood out in the time of pandemic, and those industries have a lot to do with subscription-based businesses,” he informs. 

As the lockdown progressed, boredom turned to loneliness for some, and a lot many people were signing up looking for relationships, which increased the popularity of social networking sites like Aisle. 

Aisle, which had a user base of 3.5 million Indians, was able to attract an investment of $1,100,000. “Our revenues and memberships dou­bled during the last three consecutive years,” Joseph says.

However, Aisle faced its own set of challenges. The pandemic caused an otherwise unified team to split up and work remotely. During the initial stages of work from home, they found it difficult to coordinate as a team, as they were required to switch to tools made for remote work which were never used earlier. 

Competitors Galore

Aisle is also not the only match-making app out there, which is why they also face tough competition. These include conventional match-making websites like Shaadi.com, Bharat Matrimony etc. as well as western apps like Tinder. 

“We deal with it because we are a middle path between the two sets. We are neither matrimony, nor are we casual dating. We are what we call high intent dating,” explains Joseph

The company stands out from those in their field given their unique understanding of the urban Indian culture. The youth today wants to have a say in the partner they pick for themselves. The western apps do not cater to Indian sensibili­ties in that regard as they include a photo with a name and nothing else. They are not positioned for meaningful rela­tionship.

Talking about the future, Aisle is planning to expand to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. With the onset of the TikTok era, the non-urban Indian started getting tech savvy to. With growing applications in use like YouTube, Instagram, etc. they are getting an idea of what online dat­ing can be like. Aisle taps the phe­nomenon of a growing sense of independence among the youth, especially women. Joseph says, “We can run this business only if we have two individuals capable of taking their individual decisions. By 2023 we intend to become pop­ular as a brand, to the point that we will not need introduction.”

The team plans to take on board more specialists in the near future, who can manage important func­tions. “It will be the people who will get us ahead. This will also enable the social contribution the team is already making. Japan has the issue of an aging population, and the West has the growing issue of single parent households. The idea is to promote long-term familial stability and human rela­tionships,” says Joseph.

Speaking about the future of online dating, Jospeh believes that the line between casual dating and social networking will eventually blur, while the gap between casual dating and high-intent dating will increase. People will be able to stream themselves online to attract a partner given that people are becoming less camera-shy as time passes.