Shreyas Kulkarni

“Our overall revenue grew 4x in the last 12 months”: TrulyMadly’s Snehil Khanor

The co-founder and CEO talks about the app’s latest ad, competing against matrimony apps, arranged marriages, and Tier II and III users.

“We are a serious dating app and the end goal of serious dating is marriage,” remarked Snehil Khanor, co-founder and CEO, TrulyMadly.

Last week, the app released an ad called ‘Worst Proposal Ever’. Made by ‘All Things Small’, a Mumbai-based agency, the 60-second is a parody of how families get involved when it comes to their kids’ marriage.

In the ad, the girl seeing her parents’ behaviour is left shocked and then a voice-over tells her to use TrulyMadly and find her “Truly Forever” because life’s big decisions should be taken by you and nobody else.

We (afaqs!) were quite surprised to see what we considered a dating app venture into the matrimony space… “In India, there is always a pressure on girls to get married… they also worry that if we don’t find a partner, our families will push for an arranged marriage,” said Khanor.

Snehil Khanor
Snehil Khanor

He went on to state that TrulyMadly is “in-between dating and matrimony apps. The problem with matrimony apps is that they’re similar to arranged marriages – parents meeting parents.”

For him, most people don’t want to go the arranged marriage and the problem with matrimony apps is that right at the start, “you are asked about caste, gotra, wealth… boys ask if you can cook, can you handle the household...”

We don’t want such questions and neither do the people said Khanor pointing towards the fact that there’s been a cultural change in people not just in the urban areas but Tier II and Tier II and even in villages… “People are becoming progressive.”

He took the example of parents of millennials who while stuck in their ways have shown that they too are capable of change which is a great thing.

Pointed Khanor, “In the last season of The Big Bang Theory, an American sitcom, Raj asked his father to find a girl for him because he can’t and the father asks, “What do you think I can go to my friend and ask for his daughter’s hand? It’s not 2015 anymore.” Western pop culture too has documented the cultural change in India.

Continuing with his comparison, the co-founder and CEO explained how people who meet through TrulyMadly date for at least one to one-and-a-half years before getting married, unlike matrimony apps where you meet today and “get married a few months later.”

“In India, love marriage has been aspirational since the times of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana but dating has been a taboo.”

Seeing the TrulyMadly ad, it reminded of last year’s ad which spoke about the pressure from extended family to say no to a proposal, we were curious to understand how the “serious” dating app would now compete with a matrimony giant.

Said Khanor, “They can release any type of ads, the fact of the matter remains that it is parents meeting parents… Most profiles are operated by brother, mother, there is no freedom of choice. Our brand film is about freedom of choice.”

He also revealed that a big chunk of their engagement and revenue is coming from Tier II and Tier III cities. We wondered if it was because of people going back to their homes during the lockdowns… “It’s been happening for a while now but the pandemic did fuel it. Urban workers returning to their places kind of act as an influencer for that community, their friends, there is that aspirational value.”

He went on to reveal, “Our overall revenue grew 4x in the last 12 months but cities like Patna, Bhubhaneshwar, Guwahati, Gwalior, Ahmedabad, Surat have grown north of 10x-15x in the last 12 months.” The platform has eight million users as of now.

A progression from dating to serious dating?

Go back a few years and TrulyMadly had a released a bunch of content that revolved around hardships women faced when it came to dating.

There was ‘Creep Qawwali’ and ‘The WatchBoyz’ with comedy collective All India Bakchod… And now the app’s latest ad speaks about the hardships women face when it comes to marriage, quite the natural progression, isn’t it?

Answered Khanor, “Then our target group (TG) was 20-21-year-olds, now we solely on 25+… When you’re over 25, adulting cannot wait because you’ve already become an adult. It’s no longer college love, we need real love and you can’t get it from hookups… India does not resonate with the hookup culture…”

He did tell us that the app has a lot more content in its pipeline and because it’s a digital-first brand, we shouldn’t expect any print ads from them. When asked if the app will go for show sponsorships, we got a negative response because “they might be good for recall but I am not a big fan and I feel they’re overexposed and become a blindspot for viewers...Do you remember the sponsors of the last web series you’ve watched?”

Have news to share? Write to us