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Why dating apps are getting popular among urban women

It's not necessary that the first frog that I kiss is my prince. Let me kiss many frogs and decide who my prince is," says 31-year-old Neha Kapoor (name changed), a Mumbai-based techie with a large global IT consulting company.

Kapoor, who moved to Mumbai from Delhi a year ago, is hunting for proverbial frogs to kiss on dating apps Truly-Madly, Tinder and Hinge. "I am single and working, I have no other place or time to meet someone new, except using dating apps," says Kapoor.



Like Kapoor, a staggering half-a-million urban working women are tapping on these dating apps, executives running these apps claim. That's roughly 35-40% of users registered on such apps in India. Incidentally, many of them use multiple platforms.

"Modern, financially independent working women have taken a big leap and don't see it (online dating) as a taboo at all," says Sumesh Menon, chief executive officer and cofounder of U2opia Mobile, which launched dating app Woo in August last year.

Despite the notion that these dating apps are swarming with men looking for flings, these dating service providers claim that a chunk of their traffic comes from working women, in their twenties and early thirties seeking a steady relationship. Woo, for instance, says that 40% of its traffic comes from women.

TrulyMadly, which launched its Android app in August last year and received close to 1.5 million downloads, claims 35% of its users are women. ekCoffee says that for every two women, there are three men on its app. 95% of the women on ekCoffee are working women, say company officials.

It's not just traffic that is pouring into these apps. TrulyMadly raised Rs 35 crore from Helion Venture Partners and Kae Capital in March this year. People Group, which owns Shaadi.com, Makaan.com and Mobango, acquired a 25% stake in dating app Thrill for Rs 6 crore in a cash-andstock deal, earlier this year.

With an increasing number of women signing up on such apps, there has been a rush of dating app launches in the past one year -- though their positioning varies. For instance, while Tinder, one the fastest growing apps, pitches itself openly as a hookup app, the likes of Truly Madly, Woo, ekCoffee bracket themselves as modern matchmaking services. Hinge, which is popular in the US, launched in Mumbai earlier this year and plans to extend its services across the country.

"When these women write to us, they always seem to mention that traditional matrimonial sites have stopped working for them and hence they are looking towards other unconventional means of finding urban, qualified single men to interact with," says Anushri Thanedar, cofounder of ekCoffee.

As Suhasini Ramaswamy, a creative designer who uses these apps, says: "I am not comfortable with my parents finding someone for me from one of the traditional sites."


Rahul Kumar, founder of TrulyMadly, contends that finding a date online isn't purely a metro city phenomenon. 40% of women on his app are from tier-II and tier-III cities. "Dating is pretty mainstream phenomenon now. The idea is to connect with likeminded singles. And more and more women are accepting (online) dating as a platform to meet potential long-term partners," says Kumar.

In fact, the pace at which dating apps have grown has nudged Bharatmatrimony.com to launch a dating platform, Matchify, this year. "There is a stated intend when someone signs up on marriage sites like ours (Bharatmatrimony.) They are there to seriously look for life partners," says Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO of Bharatmatrimony.com.

"However, to cater to different populace we have started the app matchify. I do not expect the dating websites to replace traditional ways anytime soon."

Given their large women clientele, app makers stress that they are going the extra mile to protect their privacy. Woo, for example, keeps women's details private, their names are not displayed without permission, and conversations can be struck up only after there is mutual consent. Women can also filter their suitors and ask questions to potential matches.

But, despite all checks and balances, in matters of the heart, there are no guarantees. Rashmi Parekh (name changed), a banking professional, who is active on Tinder, TrulyMadly and a few other dating apps, says the problem with these apps is that everyone has so many options that they will keep all their options open -- and don't commit. But then again, there is Rohini Paul, a lawyer in Mumbai who recently got engaged to a guy she met on Tinder. Some frogs may just be worth kissing
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