Consim Info Pvt. Ltd., a signature internet conglomerate, managing marquee brands such as BharatMatrimony.com and IndiaProperty.com to name a few, won international recognition at relatively early stage that it counted internet giant Yahoo among its investors. However, post-October 2011, Yahoo sold its 12 percent stake to Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP) as it began consolidating its operations in India.
The stake sale and the subsequent entry of venture partner, BVP seems to have strengthened the resolve of the organization to new reach heights and keep aiming higher as its Chief Executive Officer Murugavel Janakiraman opens up with International Business Times on his company's growth plans and how it endeavors to sustain its leadership position in the online matrimony market.
He holds the reputation for creating one of the fastest growing and profitable organizations in both the digital and offline space that boasts of technical excellence and innovation. From reaching out to South Asians across the world to establishing a considerable retail presence with over 200 self-owned outlets across India, he has come a long way.
A master's degree holder in Computer Science from the University of Madras, Janakiraman has worked as a software consultant for several projects in the U.S. before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey. He has won laurels at very young age as one of the Top 5 Asian Indian Businessmen in the U.S. below 35 years from the Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce.
Excerpts from the interview:
Post 2011, after Yahoo exited to make way for venture fund investors BVP, Mayfield and Cannan, how has life changed for your organization?
I have greatly enjoyed working with the Bessemer team. The Consim team has also benefited from the deep knowledge, insights, technical expertise and global benchmarks that the Bessemer team brings to the table.
Bessemer holds one of the longest-running records of success in the venture capital industry; BVP manages more than $2 billion of venture capital invested in more than 130 companies located around the world. The companies include Skype, LinkedIn, Qualcomm and Intel.
Yahoo held only 12 percent stake in your organization. Can you share details on promoter and venture fund shareholding pattern in your organization?
Bessemer Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund and Canaan Partners have invested in our company. They are major global venture funds with investments in highly successful companies.
The stake held by Yahoo was picked up by BVP along with existing investors Mayfield Fund and Canaan partners.
Your service portfolio seems to comprise: BharatMatrimony, PrivilegeMatrimony, CommunityMatrimony.com, EliteMatrimony.com, IndiaProperty.com, ClickJobs.com, IndiaAutomobile.com, and IndiaList.com. Besides, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives include BharatBloodBank.com, BharatEyeBank.com and AbilityMatrimony.com. Do you plan to sustain all of them in the current scheme of things or will any of them be phased out to make way for new ventures?
There is no shortage of opportunities nor do we shy away from experimenting. Depending on the market realities and customer expectations, we look at new opportunities all the time.
PopularMatrimony, for instance, is one of our newer ventures. As are Matrimony Directory and Tambulya, India’s first return gifts store. Through PopularMatrimony we have tried to address the match-making needs of the low income people who have been ignored. Going forward, you can certainly expect many more innovative services from us.
Again depending on the situation, we may defocus some services.
Congratulations on winning the restraining order against competition on Google Adwords. However, search on Google for Bharat Matrimony continues to have Shaadi.com listed in Adwords and in related searches other competitors appear. And, it is also noticed vice-versa, wherein your website appears in Adwords for competitor search. How do you plan to address this issue?
We will look into the issue.
We are aware of the significance of foreign markets in your operations. Outside India, can you name one top market that plays a vital role in your operations and explain how?
The U.S. is one of our biggest markets outside of India. It’s the first choice for Indians settled in the U.S. It’s a market with great potential for growth. The Middle-East is another huge market. We already have a very strong presence in the Middle-East. We are looking at newer markets to grow stronger globally.
It is said in the online matrimony market 93 percent of revenues come from subscribers. As you own several community portals, we request you to share information on most active communities in the online market and if possible give a breakdown of numbers across communities.
CommunityMatrimony represents the largest conglomeration of 350 matrimony websites in the world. It has become a huge success because in India it is still believed that marriage within the community is healthy, happy and strengthens the bond within the community.
ChristianMatrimony, MuslimMatrimony, BrahminMatrimony are among the most successful matrimony services within CommunityMatrimony.
Recently, BharatMatrimony recorded 1 million fans on Facebook. Can you explain how you went about achieving this including promotional initiatives and campaigns? Also request you to share views on Social Media effectiveness in business.
We are the first matrimony brand to record 1 million fans on Facebook. With this landmark, we have succeeded in building the largest community around the theme of marriages on Facebook.
It reflects our success with engaging customers and fans and connecting them to the things they are passionate about. We are not just looking at the numbers. Our strategy has been to use social media to listen, interact and have a meaningful connection with our audience.
We are considered to be a pioneer among matrimony brands in the social media space and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/bharatmatrimony provides fans the hottest topics on marriage and related subjects. It also features applications that enable partner search, virtual gifting and a variety of social games and fun. The result is a robust, engaged and active community comprising more than a million active fans.
At present, there are four key players dominating the market? Do you think there is room for more? Or is it time for consolidation? Any acquisitions coming up?
We are the leaders in the online matrimony space with more than 70 percent share of the market. According to the Juxtconsult report, more than 80 percent of Indians looking for life partners use Bharatmatrimony.
So far, we have grown organically and we have found enough opportunities to grow this way. As we progress, we may look at acquisitions in the future, but that would be in our core areas and not in the non-core businesses.
Your Initial Public Offer plans were dropped after receiving venture funding. Can you share the road map for when you plan to take the company public or not, and if you go public will it mark the exit of current holders?
We will announce our plans on that front at the right time.
Can you share some lessons that you have learnt in your entrepreneurial journey that hold good for websites?
An entrepreneur should not shy away from experimenting to succeed. The clever entrepreneurs spot opportunities in tough as well as good times. They seize opportunities – that is what makes them entrepreneurs.
Persistence and hard work will certainly help. Passion, commitment and the right attitude are the other qualities you find in successful entrepreneurs.
Also, I strongly feel that instead of following someone else’s path to growth, identify your strengths and identify a path that works for you.
How do you plan to take your organization forward from the present?
The future looks extremely exciting and full of opportunities. I see further strengthening of our leadership position in India and robust growth in the international markets. I am also excited about growing our new services like Return Gifts, MatrimonyGifts, MatrimonyDirectory. We have plans to launch other innovative services in matrimony and related areas.
We will continue to grow our footprint across the world to give our customers the most useful and innovative services in matchmaking and related areas.