Mar 14, 2017 04:13 PM IST | Source:

Bharatmatrimony wants to become the Uber of wedding photography

Chennai-based online matchmaking portal BharatMatrimony will now supply service providers such as caterers, make-up artists, photographers required to organize an Indian wedding.

Priyanka Sahay

Moneycontrol News 

Not only can you now fix a groom or bride for yourself on matrimony sites, but also fix a band, caterer, make-up artist, photographer and rent costumes. Chennai-based online matchmaking portal BharatMatrimony has entered into a segment which will supply service providers needed to organise an Indian wedding.

"The services currently contribute less than 10 percent of the company's business. However, we expect a three-fold growth during 2018 financial year," Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder and CEO of BharatMatrimony who also found his wife on his own portal told Moneycontrol.

Bharatmatrimony currently claims to be getting close to 300 bookings for wedding photography every month with an average ticket size of Rs 50,000. For wedding photography, the company undertakes to hire close to 150 photographers. It pays them a monthly salary of Rs 25,000.

Overall, the company reported a revenue of Rs 232 crore during the year ending March 2015 through matchmaking services.


Huge demand for matchmaking services 

Bharatmatrimony claims to be have over 3 million registered customers. It currently runs two platforms on the services side -- assisted e-commerce vertical Matrimonybazaar and photo and videography platform Matrimonyphotography. The services were launched almost two years ago but went through multiple iterations to come to the current form.

"Over 50 million people are looking for life partners at anytime in India. Online match-making has penetrated to only 10 percent of the market. There is so much opportunity for one to grow in the match-making space. We on the other hand are not only looking at match-making. We are now expanding into wedding services," Janakiraman told Moneycontrol.

"The benefit of these platforms is that customers save time and can also save up to 10 percent on their wedding expenses," he added.

While the photography services are available in three South Indian states, the assisted e-commerce service is available only in Chennai.

It is safe to call Bharatmatrimony a late comer in the wedding e-commerce space which is already crowded with over 50 niche start-ups including Rajan Anandan backed-Weddingz, wedding vendor discovery platform, WeddingPlz and wedding planning portal WedMeGood.

Indian wedding industry is expected to be a USD 40 billion market which is likely to grow 25 percent year-on-year.

In India an average middle class family spends around Rs 13-14 lakh on a wedding.

"The new startups (in this space) have to build trust and capability," said Janakiraman who founded Bharatmatrimony almost two decades ago. "For new startups, getting customers is a challenge. We, on the other hand, have added 3 million active users...the cost of getting customers is zero," he added.

As Bharatmatrimony looks to expand these services, it claims to be getting requests of acquisitions from a lot of startups in the space. Janakiraman, however, brushes them off by saying he is in no hurry to expand through buyouts.

"We want to expand rightly, not just for the sake of expansion. Many companies have done it, expanded rapidly...we take the approach of sustained growth. We will expand at a pace where we are meaningfully able to grow. And get to profitability as early as possible," he said.

Wedding photography a lucrative business

Janakiraman also claims that the photography business is getting to operational profitability.

"It's a very lucrative business model when you are getting an average of Rs 45,000-50,000 per customer. The economics works very well in our favour. We want to be like Uber and Ola when it comes to photography," he said. Bharatmatrimony plans to expand the photography service to Andhra Pradesh and Kerala in a quarter's time.

The Matrimony Bazaar is currently being piloted in Chennai. The company is currently still struggling to get that business model right and will expand only after doing that.

In Matrimony Bazaar, it helps the members avail wedding services which would include bookings for mandaps, venues, caterers etc. Customers have to subscribe to the service. The company then assists the member with a relationship manager who suggests them based on their need and budget.

The company charges an upfront service fee that can range anywhere from Rs 500-Rs 1,000 approximately. It has tied up with offline vendors.

It claims to have an average booking ticket size of Rs 2.5 lakh with customers choosing 2 to 3 services on an average. The most popular services on the platform are wedding venues, caterers and beauticians.

'IPO Plans are delayed'

Ironically, Bharatmatrimony which launched a dating vertical Matchify in 2015 had to shut it down as it turned out to be diluting the company's image as a series wedding platform.

"Getting the female profiles was a challenge ... monetisation was a big challenge...we wanted to be a serious matrimony player. Dating was not done with the intention of wedding. We phased it out an year ago," he said.

The company, which was to go ahead with an initial public offering, last year has postponed its plans and there is no clear word coming from the company on when it intends to reapply.

"The board will decide when to re-apply," he said.


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