Bharatmatrimony Confident Of Profits, Sees Strong Growth In Indian Market

Matrimonial site, which also runs, and, will soon turn black from its current red status. I met Bharatmatrimony Chief Executive Murugavel Janakiraman at his shiny new office space in Chennai to talk about when his business will turn profitable and how his new ventures fit into his business strategy.

How would you describe your progress over the last 8 years?

In 2000, we had about 15,0000 active profiles on our site and we were making about 3 lakhs to 4 lakhs a month. Advertising is a small form of income. We get 96 percent of our revenues from subscription. Earlier we used to charge Rs. 300 for the year and now it is Rs. 1590 for 3 months (Rs. 6360 for a year). Now we are adding 8,000 to 10,000 profiles a month day. We had a 50 percent share of the Rs. 80 crore market in 2006 and we expect to retain this share as the industry grows to a Rs.130 crore to Rs.150 crore market in 2007.

You launched a voice-based matrimony service in alliance with Airtel and OnMobile in June. How’s that doing and how does the revenue sharing agreement work between the three partners?

We expect it to add to our revenues only in the long term. Currently the service is only with Airtel, which limits the expansion of the service. So we are in talks with other operators like BSNL and Hutch for tie ups. We are not worried about our competition launching it. This is not a service that you can quickly launch. It took us a long time to launch. In terms of revenue sharing, we content providers get a big chunk of the revenues and the rest of the revenues is shared between the technology providers and the operators.

What is the revenue contribution of your various businesses and when do you expect to become profitable?

Bharatmatrimony is contributing more than 50 percent of revenues but other businesses like and are growing faster. These businesses could become as big as Bharatmatrimony. Last year we lost some money because we were more aggressive post the VC funding. But I expect the company to be profitable by the end of this year. All the businesses —, and– will become profitable.

What are your expectations from the overseas markets?

About 20 percent of our visitors are non-resident Indians (NRIs.) But the Indian market is growing much faster. When we started in 2000 then we had more NRI profiles. But the trend has reversed. Today 80 percent of our visitors are India-based and only 20 percent are NRIs. We charge NRIs $59 for 3 months. But India revenues will continue to grow at a much faster pace. We have offices in U.S. and Dubai. UK, Canada and Australia are other markets we are targeting via television, radio advertising and events. In the late 90s the number of Indians who were going to the U.S. was huge. But the same kind of growth is not happening today.

Are you looking at acquisitions? Do you think the online classifieds space is ready for consolidation?

No, we are not looking into acquisitions. People have always been looking at us as a target but we are not interested. I don