Chennai

Now, a priest is just a click away

A Chennai headquartered startup has ventured into an unexplored and newer pasture which not many would bet on. It has aslo received funding to the tune of few crore. The startup, Harivara, intends to offer priest engagement services.

Harivara’s founder and chief executive officer Arun Kumar Somaskandan said “With just a few clicks, Harivara helps those who want to avail of a priest based on preferences ranging from caste, community, language and location. We even deliver pooja materials at the doorstep. Shopping for pooja items consume anywhere between 3-5 hours so we want our clients to save this time,” he said.

Currently, this online startup offers more than 360 plus pujas including homams, japams, grahapravesams, marriages, pariharams and kumbhabhishekams. The firm has tie-ups with 3,000 vedic priests across the globe. “We have professionally trained purohits/pandits. We do a complete background analysis before roping them into our network,” said Mr. Arun.

Before venturing into this business, Arun went around India studying how rituals and poojas are performed by various communities. He even did an analysis on how many new real estate projects are launched in a city and how many babies are born everyday. “Unlike other business ventures, there is no market size or statistics involved here. Every new launch means a housewarming ceremony and every newborn baby means a new client for us,” he said.

30,000 poojas performed

Started with an initial investment of Rs.10 lakh, Harivara has performed more than 30,000 poojas till date in Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and in United States, United Kingdom, Middle-East and Singapore. “For people abroad, we perform the pooja through webcast,” said Arun. The revenue is shared between the startup and the priests.

In 2016, the 27-year-old entrepreneur got incubated at the startup warehouse, promoted by Tamil Nadu government along with Nasscom. His mentor, Lakshmi Narayanan, an angel investor with Chennai Angels and board member of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chennai Chapter invested a few crore in Harivara. “We don’t disclose the details of investment,” said Mr.Arun.

Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan said “Harivara has the potential to scale up and be the 'go to' firm for services of faith, much as the way Bharatmatrimony started and has come to lead the segment.”

With new funding, Mr.Arun will now be getting into newer geographies. “This year, we want to reach out to more cities and we are also eyeing the Mumbai market. We have started talking to priests there,” he said. The startup will also be focussing more on research and development. “We have so many rituals in India. We need to carefully study them before starting servicing people there,” said Mr. Arun.

A new app for Harivara is also on cards.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 6:12:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/now-a-priest-is-just-a-click-away/article17373214.ece

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