I move a little closer to Sachin Bhatia, the co-founder of Truly Madly. Just so, I can be sure about what he just told me. “Really?” I say. “It is true,” he says. “For guys, the whole thing just gets stuck at the first line of starting a conversation. Everything before that goes well. The profile is created. There is a compatibility score and his profile has been verified. But after that is conversation. And he gets stuck.”
“Like they don’t know what to say. Very well meaning guys, qualified, doing well. Decent looking also, but stuck at the first sentence itself. You have a nice name. You have a lovely smile. And hello. 80% of the messages from guys to girls are one of these messages. How is the girl going to decide which of these guys should I take forward?”
It is quite likely that you’ve heard of Truly Madly before. Sachin Bhatia, maybe not so much. Well, you should.
The man is 45 years old. Born and brought up in Delhi. Unknowingly, Bhatia has a habit of getting into businesses which are perhaps a little ahead of their time. When he started out, it was with selling drinking water jars. In Faridabad. To small industrial shops. This is the mid 1990s we are talking about, when drinking water jars were priced at Rs 2 and Bisleri bottles at Rs 12. People weren’t into buying water back then, they used to carry water from home. Bhatia did that for a while and then switched to bowling. Yup, bowling.
He joined AMF Bowling where his job was to set up bowling centres across India. It is at AMF that he bumped into Deep Kalra; a man now better known as the co-founder and CEO of MakeMyTrip. In 2000, Bhatia joined MakeMyTrip as co-founder with Kalra. This was the year MakeMyTrip was incorporated; remember, those were also the days of ridiculously patchy internet connection and non-existent penetration of credit cards. For the longest time, Bhatia stayed put at MakeMyTrip. In 2010, when the company went for its Initial Public Offering (IPO), he quit. He then ambled around for a while.
Three and a half years back, Bhatia along with two other co-founders (Hitesh Dhingra, founder of Letsbuy and Rahul Kumar, ex-MakeMyTrip, Expedia) ventured into the online dating business. It will be fair to say that nobody ventures into dating just like that; you know, you don’t wake up to the idea. Neither did Bhatia and his co-founders.
When they started out, thinking through what they wanted to do in life, they figured matrimony would be a business ripe for disruption. This was arrived at mostly by rejecting other ideas. Bhatia didn’t want to do online travel. He’d already done that. Dhingra didn’t want to do e-commerce. Rahul, pretty much the same, no travel.