In 1997 when Mr. Murugavel Janakiraman or fondly known as Muruga was in USA, he discovered the steadily fame grasping thing- Internet. Being a Tamilian he decided to do something for his community & designed a website called Sysindia.com in 1997. It featured Tamil calender, festival dates and more. You could register on the website and get notified about the festivals in advance via email. Also, Tamil greeting cards and a matrimony feature was made available. It was soon clear that many users were bachelors, mostly using matrimony service. So he decided to focus on the same. Initially, Muruga launched an exclusive Tamil and Telugu matrimony service website. The domain name decided was BharatMatrimony.com. However, in the 2000 recession Muruga was laid off from the company he was working for & had to come back to India. Coming back to India, he decided to focus solely on BharatMatrimony.com
For matrimony service, the pricing was decided at Rs 300 for Indian customers and $10 for US customers until a match was found. Today, the model differs as the registration is free and you can establish connection only after you become a paid member. Moreover, Muruga decided to clone IAC – American Media Company which owned 150 brands across 100 countries. So, in 2005 a bouquet of websites was launched with businesses like travel, property, local classifieds etc. In 2005, when the investors were favorable to invest in companies which have survived the dotcom burst, Muruga decided to go for funding.
Many investors refused as they didn’t see recurring revenue in Matrimony business as it was one time paid service. Amid favorable investing environment it was utmost important to be able to raise funding. Suddenly, investment bankers arranged meeting with Yahoo. Muruga had something else in mind. He did not want a strategic partnership with Yahoo and convinced them rather to be a financial investor. Yahoo agreed. This became Yahoo’s first ever investment in India. Later, Cannan partners who was initially looking to invest in Shaadi.com decided to go wear and invest in Bharatmatrimony. In 2006, the total funding received from both was $8.65 mn. Muruga divided marketing budgets between his bouquet of websites – clickjobs.com, Bharatmatrimony.com, Indiaproperty.com, Indiaautomobile.com. In 2008, it was a grave time as Muruga ran out of cash with no real output.
He was indeed lucky though, to be funded by Mayfield, Yahoo & Cannan partners again with $11.75 mn. This time around, the board members asked Muruga to keep a check on the expenses & they decided to focus only on property and matrimony. This let them encounter & correct their biggest mistake- focusing on multiple verticals & ignoring profit making matrimony vertical. If matrimony would have been the sole focus, more funding would not have been required. The four portals clickjobs.com, Indialist.com, Indiaautomobile.com & Loanwala.com were added to subsidiary Perspi. While, Bharatmatrimony.com & Indiaproperty.com were retained in parent company. By 2012, Muruga & the board decided to focus on Bhartimatrimony.com as it was the no.1 website in its sector & demerged Indiaproperty.com. Then, Bharatmatriomny.com was renamed Matrimony.com. Also clickjobs.com was sold.
“You have to have one solid profitable business. It is a bad idea to diversify without having one. We diversified only when we had Naukri.com making solid profit for us.” Sanjeev Bikchandani. That is where Muruga went wrong.
Muruga clarifies that they do not require a lot of money. Money now raised is so that the investors get an exit. Matrimony is itself a big opportunity with the scope of scaling in photography, bazaar & mandap. We just got around a 10% share of organized market. In 2017 Matrimony.com was valued at 2225 cr.