From a lean start-up in 2000 to becoming India's leading online matrimonial portal today, BharatMatrimony.com is a rare success story. T. Krithika Reddy talks to its founder-CEO J. Murugavel about how his business progressed from idea to impact

The contrast can't be missed. The restless waves and the cerulean sea form a perfect backdrop for the flawless “White Room” with chic lounge furniture. Within striking distance of all the action in the city, time seems to stand still in this luxurious niche in BharatMatrimony's office on the ninth floor of TVH Beliciaa Towers in MRC Nagar.

As I soak in the serenity of the space, J. Murugavel, founder-CEO enters. Flashing a toothy smile, he says, “When white dominates the decor, there is no distraction. We enter the room with an open mind and see a surge of ideas flowing in during our brain-storming sessions. If we work hard and stay focussed, the sky is the limit. To me, the sprawling sea and the horizon symbolise limitless opportunities.”

A quintessential struggler, Murugavel's road to success wasn't easy. He had to penetrate the haze and cross several chasms before discovering his path to a sustainable business. What makes his story stimulating is his tell-it-like-it-is stance.

“From the rickety roads of Royapuram to making it in the Red Herring 100 Global Award list, my journey is full of surprises. Hailing from an economically backward family that lived in a 300 sq.ft. row house with vendors for neighbours, all I dreamt of was a decent life. If not in my own house, I wanted to at least live in a rented house with electricity and without a leaking roof!”

A sprightly student, Murugavel was the first in his family to enter high school. “The switch from Tamil to English medium was inevitable in Plus Two when I had to plan a career. Imagine studying huge volumes in English when I did not even know the basics. I used to buy Tamil textbooks, understand the subject and then learn it in English. It was a nightmare,” he recalls. “After graduating in Statistics, I enrolled for MCA. That was a turning point since I never knew I had it in me to be a good programmer. When I realised my strength, confidence followed. Networking with friends landed me good jobs in Singapore, but even then, my only aim in life was to have a decent roof over my head!”

The strange alliance between technology and matrimony — one a matter of the mind and other a matter of the heart happened when Murugavel moved to New Jersey on programming assignments. “I launched an application-based portal to help the local Tamil community. Online discussions, festival reminders, Tamil greeting cards, daily calendar listing Rahu Kaalam and Yamagandam, etc were the highlights. A small section for matrimony attracted steady traffic. That was the spur. The simple idea eventually made me return to Chennai and start operations here in 2000. I was willing to take the risk because I had nothing to lose. And being a good programmer, I knew I had something to fall back on.”

Initially, the focus was on Tamil and Telugu. Ignoring naysayers, Murugavel stuck to his vision that online matrimonial services would become a huge trend in the next few years. Today, there are about 350 portals under his Community Matrimony umbrella. Besides covering all major Indian communities from A to Y, there are also specialised segments such as Defence Matrimony, Ability Matrimony and Divorce Matrimony. “The technology is the same, so it wasn't difficult to diversify.” The list of portals that feature under his Consim Info Pvt. Ltd includes PrivilegeMatrimony, EliteMatrimony and IndiaProperty. “When we started, online was the last resort; today, it's become the first source for anyone seeking matrimonial alliances,” beams Murugavel. “Our innovative edge, free profile, stringent privacy policy, verification of telephone numbers, off-line services, doorstep collection of service fee, etc. paid off.”

Ahead of the pack with over two million active users in the last six months and 20 million users so far, Murugavel says 80 per cent of people who want to look up online matrimonial sites log on to BharatMatrimony. “Hard work has been fundamental to my success. I believe in giving everything my best and taking the outcome in a positive way. Unintended consequences have been major game changers in my life…”

MEN WHO MATTER

Steve Jobs for his innovation

Abdul Kalam for his vision

WHY IT CLICKED!

The entry of online portals has been a defining moment for the marriage industry in India and is changing the way Indians search and find their life partners. They offer convenience, privacy, a wider choice of profiles, cut down distances, open discreet and safer channels for communication with interesting profiles and give Indian brides a crucial say in deciding their life partners.

FOR THE RECORD

*Bagged the Red Herring 100 Global award for being one of the most innovative companies in the world.

*NASSCOM IT Innovators honour in 2009.

*Entered Limca Book of Records for the number of documented marriages online.

*Ranked No: 1 matrimonial site for NRIs and Indians by JuxtConsult.

*Was recognised by Alexa, Traffic Estimate and Comscore as the most visited matrimonial portal worldwide.

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