Feature

Divide and Rule

Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of the ₹13-billion online portal, Matrimony, knows how to conquer a divided market. Now, he is ready to spread his wings

RA Chandroo

It’s tough to get Murugavel Janakiraman talking. The soft-spoken and shy founder of the Rs.13-billion online portal Matrimony, known more for its brand BharatMatrimony, however, has never shied away from experimenting. After attempting to run automobile, property and job portals, he is still constantly searching for newer avenues to make Matrimony a billion-dollar company.

Seventeen years ago, he pioneered the online matchmaking business in India and went on to become the market leader; this time, he has his eyes set on another large slice of the matrimony industry — the wedding services, an industry valued at Rs.4 trillion.

According to a 2016 report by KPMG and Google, online matrimony vertical is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19% till 2020 — standing at around Rs.8 billion today. Among the biggest spends in this are mandap, catering and photography. The Matrimony team launched MatrimonyPhotography, MatrimonyBazaar and MatrimonyMandaps between 2015 and 2017, sensing a considerable opportunity in ancillary services. In FY15, FY16 and FY17, its overall revenue increased from Rs.2.4 billion to Rs.2.5 billion to Rs.2.9 billion. In FY18, the overall revenue was Rs.3.34 billion and PAT stood at Rs.730 million. Its paid subscriptions were 745,000. 

The company hopes to convert most of the 3 million active profiles on its website into customers for its new ancillary wedding services. Currently, about 5% of Matrimony’s business comes from services, but it is a fast-growing segment. In FY18, revenue from it grew 35.8% while the overall revenue grew at 14.5% YoY (see: Good times). 

The experimenter

Born into a small family in Chennai’s Royapuram neighbourhood, which abuts the Bay of Bengal, Janakiraman today has his office in the 10th floor of Beliciaa Towers in MRC Nagar with an astounding view of the bay. Seems like life had better plans for the boy whose dreams were as simple as becoming a lab technician and moving to a better house from his one-bedroom home, where he lived with his parents and elder brother.

Finishing his

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