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The business of love

Anindita Ghose in Mint:

Siddharth Mangharam met his wife of three years, Simran, at a party in Bangalore over a platter of Roquefort. “Most couldn’t stand its pungent flavour but there was one attractive woman who, like me, was really enjoying the sharp cheese,” says Mangharam. “That got us talking for a whole hour about our shared passion for cheeses. This serendipitous interaction led to us ultimately getting married a year later.”

Mangharam, 37, is now in what he calls the “business of catalysing serendipity”. A business management graduate whose first start-up, Peek, is into cloud computing, his second helps educated, urban singles connect with each other. Mangharam, CEO, Floh (Find Life Over Here), co-founded the singles network in May with Simran and two other partners to address the gap in premium dating and matrimonial services in India.

The model works like this: Members recommended by existing members enter the network (www.floh.in), and groups of 15-20 singles are “curated” for themed events such as vintage car rallies or wine tastings. Based in Bangalore—with plans to expand to other cities in India—the nine-month-old start-up has a revenue model based on subscription and event fees. Floh has a few hundred members in its network already, while more than 2,000 are on waitlist.

In March, when the New York-based “group dating” start-up Ignighter.com set up offices in India to handle unprecedented traffic from the country, it highlighted a niche market that was waiting moony-eyed at the altar to be addressed. Founded in 2008 by three 20-something men who’d sought to set their dating website apart by enabling members to set up group dates, they’d unknowingly hit a bumper market with India. By 2010, they had over two million Indian users. While the safety-in-numbers idea of going out with a group of strangers of the opposite sex hadn’t found too many takers on home ground, it had sparked in India. More: