High-end matchmakers emerge to tap HNIs

31 Oct,2011

By Sobia Khan

A new generation of high-end matchmakers has emerged to cater exclusively to the rapidly growing affluent entrepreneurs and professionals, who are willing to shell out whatever it takes to seal just the right alliance.

 

Elite Matrimony, a matrimonial website, for example, offers membership by invitation only, to those who have a net worth of over Rs 3 crore and can pay a fee of Rs 50,000 to 2 lakh for three to six months.

 

Chennai-based Mr Murugavel Janakiraman, who founded the portal, says 60% of his clients are first-generation entrepreneurs, professionals such as high-profile lawyers, or senior executives in multinational companies, while the rest represent old money with their fourth-generation into business. The portal maintains a database of more than 50,000 high net worth individuals.

 

The noveau rich who have benefited from India’s economic boom, or non-resident Indians who have made it big abroad, are turning to such professional matchmakers.

 

“It was like I was helping them strike a business deal,” says a marriage counsellor who does not wish to be named, about a recent case, “Both parties wanted to know about the other’s net worth, business prospects and succession planning, among other things.”

 

He recounts that a Mumbai-based business family was scouting for a suitable boy for their 20-year-old daughter six months ago. The father owns a 10-year-old textiles firm that has grown into a top firm in the apparel exports business. “Like all families, they wanted their daughter to marry higher in society, but people in the same wealth category were not convinced about their new status when they approached them with proposals. So they came to us,” he says. After taking the proposal to some of the big entrepreneurs registered on his portal, the counsellor finally zeroed in on a Gurgaon-based diamond merchant who had inherited the business from his ancestors.

 

With spends at big fat Indian weddings averaging between 5 crore and 25 crore, the domestic wedding market, estimated at 1.25 lakh crore – 1.9 lakh crore, is believed to be growing at 25% to 30% a year.

 

“There has to be a perfect match, in terms of both the family and the business,” says Mr Janakiraman, explaining that whoever is finally picked will become part of a business house and also contribute to its growth. “We assign a personal matchmaker to our clients, visit their families, carry out background checks, access current and potential business, family structure and succession planning, among other things, and then begin the process of matchmaking.”

 

Often, even if the family is well-known, not much may be publicly known about the educational background and management and entrepreneurial capabilities of the scions. “In such close-knit societies as those of the rich and the elite, it is difficult to enquire about such things in public. This is where we come into the picture,” says Ms Rekha Vaid, senior marriage counsellor at Sycorian, an online matchmaking service. “You need professional help to carry out complete background checks of the families and, especially, the prospective grooms.”

 

Mr Janakiraman recounts the case of a director with a top MNC in Bangalore who found just the girl he was looking for on the Elite Matrimony portal. However, it emerged that the girl’s family was not interested in the proposal for his son because the girl’s family, a first generation infotech firm in Chennai, was looking for a groom who would eventually lead the company as she was their only child. After much discussion, the executive father convinced the girl’s parents that his son, who was working in an IT firm in the US, had plans to return to India to start his own venture, and was capable enough to lead a business in future. The marriage will be solemnised soon.

 

Business is growing at 50%-60% a year, says Mr Janakiraman. “There was a need for segmentation in matrimonial websites. Affluent people need a different service and paying money for a niche service will never be a constraint for them,” he says. “In fact, some people say that we are charging very less,” he laughs.

 

Ms Vaid says business has grown over 75% in the past two years. Sycorian, through Shrishti, a business venture that caters to big-ticket weddings, has helped affluent Indians from the US, UK, Canada and Australia take the vows, she says.

 

“The online matrimonial market offers better choices for people who have moved out of the social circle to find a relevant soul mate,” says Mr Nilanjan Roy, group business head, Times Business Solutions, which owns the matrimonial website Simplymarry. She says there is a huge demand from the elite, who are taking the online route to matchmaking.

 

Kerala-based wedding planner Spice.Nair – which recently organised an all-white wedding, with everything from flowers to dresses in white – caters mainly to such NRIs. “We are getting queries from people in South Africa, UK and Australia who prefer to come to India to tie the knot. NRIs always look for variety,” says proprietor Mr Suresh Nair,who plans to set up a wedding shop to offer from invitation cards to dress to decoration to match with the themes.

 

Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2011, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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