‘We re-launched because we were being confused for a friendship portal’



Looking to build a separate identity from its print counterpart,
TimesMatri, an online matrimonial portal has re-launched itself in a brand new
avtaar as SimplyMarry.com. In conversation with Dataquest’s Studi Das,
Times Business Solutions president R Sundar claims to simplify and offer
exact matches for searches on his portal. Excerpts:

Why did you re-brand TimesMatri.com?
TimesMatri was launched when the Internet was booming and as a dominant print
medium player, we did not want to lose out on our print customers. The
matrimonial portal was an extension of the print version. While this certainly
benefited the print medium customers (as they got their advertisements posted
for free on the portal), our online business was getting stagnated, as most
advertisers did not feel the need for placing their ads on the portal, since
they were getting it for free. A rigorous market research followed which threw
up some surprising results-firstly we were perceived to be a friendship portal
as the name ‘matri’ implied friendship and dating in Hindi, and secondly we
were believed to be very closely linked with our print counterpart, The Times of
India. This prompted us to go for a re-branding exercise and we re-launched with
SimplyMarry-a simple and easy to navigate portal which promises to provide
exact searches.

What is the USP of the portal?
After a quiet re-launch in November, in just three months duration, we have
overtaken one of the established players, BharatMatrimony, in terms of page
views per month. During the last month we had 70 mn page views, approximately
three million page views in a single day, which is a good start. We will address
the basic requirement of any matrimonial portal user and that is to search for
the right match and provide that albeit in a simple and less complicated manner.
In the long run, our motive is to offer the entire package right from anyone
looking for a home to classified information, and in the process build a
community and have a lock-in with our customers.

What is your business model? Have you had any funding from
VCs?
Even though we are in the online business, we do intend to have a healthy
mix of both online and offline businesses. We are going to raise the number of
offline centers from 300 to 1,000 this year itself. As far as funding from VCs
is concerned, as of now we are a closely held company with the seeding coming in
from the Times of India group, though in future we do intend to go for an IPO to
fund future business ventures.

What are your future plans?
In less than six months from now we will be launching our services on
mobile, owing to the high mobile penetration in India. We are looking to become
a one-stop matrimonial portal for the whole of South Asia and at the same time
benefit Indians living abroad in places like Indonesia, the Middle East, US,
Canada, Singapore, etc. ‘Times Swayamvar’, meant for the various communities
which have been discontinued as of now, will also be re-introduced soon.

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