New Delhi : People Group, which owns matrimonial portal shaadi.com, has bought about 25% stake in dating applications maker Thrill in a cash and stock deal valued at close to $1 million (about Rs 6 crore).
As a part of the transaction, Mumbai-based People Group has also merged its dating platform Fropper with Delhi-based Thrill Applications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thrill. “We have combined our dating business Fropper with Thrill, making it the largest entity in the online dating space in India from users and revenue perspective,” said Anupam Mittal, founder and chief executive of People Group, which also owns real estate portal Makaan.
Thrill is a dating app founded in 2012 by Americans Devin Serago and Josh Israel, who later relocated to Delhi to start the company. Thrill, which claims to have had over 1,00,000 downloads of its app in India, will now get over six million members from Fropper.
“Fropper generates cash of over Rs 1.5 crore a year which we will plough back into growing both platforms,” said Josh Israel, 28, a US-born Indian who moved to Delhi three years ago.
Thrill also has seed investors such as Qyuki co-founder Samir Bangara, CA Media COO Rajesh Kamat, and Singapore-based investment advisory firm Taurus Value Creation.
Thrill, which is solely focused on the Indian market, competes with dating apps Tinder and Krush. As much as half of India’s 1.2 billion population is believed to be under 24 years of age, making it a good market for such mobile applications. “With a large untapped smartphone population and much cheaper cost to start a business than in New York or California, we chose India as our target base,” said Israel.
According to research firm eMarketer, India is expected to have more than 200 million smart phone users by next year, overtak ing the US as the world’s second largest market for smartphones.
With the stake acquisition, Shaadi plans to reduce the product development life cycle for Thrill.
“Core competencies required for success in both are similar. Being able to acquire customers at a reasonable cost, keeping them engaged and monetising them, are all things Shaadi has learned over the years,” said Mittal of Shaadi, one of the largest match-making portals in India.
However, trust amongst Indian women about dating apps is still low. About 65% of users of apps such as Thrill are men. “The trust deficit is accentuated in India where it is 90% male in some online platforms. A male user on a dating app is less discerning than a female user,” said Siddharth Mangharam, CEO of Floh an offline dating network for singles in India. Thrill expects this trust to increase. “We are releasing a feature this month whereby women will have the ability to request a video verification from a male match. If the man accepts, the app will turn his camera on, but not hers,” said Israel.
The app has also started audio verification. “Dating sites do at tract more males. However, this ratio may change dramatically as Thrill launches more features (for women),” said Mittal.