Pawan Gupta is the co-founder and the CEO at Betterhalf, a matchmaking platform powered by Artificial Intelligence. He boasts of more than five years of experience in product management roles across consumer social media. He has earlier led an educational software company which he also co-founded. He is also an alumni of BIT Mesra and has completed his masters in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. Gupta graced us with his presence in the institute, during E-Summit 2020. We, at News and Publication Society, got an exclusive opportunity to interact with him. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Q1: How does it feel to be here at BIT Mesra once again?
A1: Yeah, I feel great, to come over here as alma mater and see the campus and feel the vibe. Thank you for inviting me to the annual entrepreneurship event.
Q2: You referred Betterhalf as not a dating site, but a serious partner search product. What is the function behind the screen?
A2: Yes. It is a marriage product meant for Indians, ideally above 27 years of age, who are looking to get married. Okay, our users are in metropolitan cities of India. We maintain the highest distribution of females about 30% in the industry. And it’s meant to give them the control, safety and the information that they need to make a decision for their marriage. So that’s what is this product. What’s inside this, you go and register your profile and our recommendation system sends you compatibility based information based on who could be the best partner for you. You see it, you see a number of profiles and the you choose, and once said to accept you start talking to each other. Here is one consideration that we are looking into inventing new ways of matching people very, very fast in the future.
Q3: So, how difficult was it for you to attract investors as well as customers seeing to the fact that the other rival companies in the market like shaadi.com and Jeevansathi are doing great?
A3: I think when you think about customers, you do not really think of competitors as not to scare you. So they want to focus on customers. That’s it. Considering the fact of important rivals, it did not affect us in any way. Okay, now, this question as a standard problem of users and problems for investors, it has been very, very hard for us. And I think we have cracked a significant part of it. Betterhalf, today is used by two lakh users, we are heading towards the 1 Million mark and portfolios between one to 2 million users in the next 12 months. That’s very important for us. I think what we have, is a key to understanding the problems. Users, where they’re located, what kind of person they are, what kind of control they’re looking, what kind of onboarding experience they’re looking, what kind of profile visibility they’re looking, how much they’re focused on minimal information in terms of photos and there’s interest and verification and parents and horoscope and there are tonnes of them, okay, that they look into. Then you look into their safety. They look into how to interpret the data, the new look into the fast experience, so that they get matched to somebody, who we think are likely going to be matched. And they will like better if they talk. And they move on offline conversation. So we, I think, what the way we think is, you know, why he designed the product is how do we use data as a way to build the fastest experience for the users to go and close with somebody? Okay, whether it’s engagement marriage or serious in a relationship, that’s something and there’s a lot of you on data design, and a particular use case in a problem that we think we are solving it effectively and better than the competitors. So that’s some users funding. We have raised $1.2 million so far, we’ll continue to raise more as we are, you know, growing the user base. In fact, our patrons are coming up, related to matching and fastest way to match People. So I think we will be surprised that we have done fundraising four times now to raise this. It’s always on a rolling basis. So I think it’s very, very hard. So we raised, I think the first round was 250K, and the second was 500K, and then the third was 400K, I think, three rounds that’s integrated. And every time you fundraise, you’re looking into a time then of three to four months. Okay, so that has personally and professionally taken my attention away from product when I fundraise, but I think now I have a team. Okay to back me.
Q4: What has been the impact of your company after its successful implementation, primarily, on customers? How were they benefited?
A4: Yes, like users have used this product. We have done over 5000 dates and we have done between 50 to 100 marriages so far. And that’s something we will continue to grow with all the advancements coming up.
Q5: What message would you like to pass on to the students of BIT Mesra?
A5: I think what Tim Cook states that there’s not going to be the right time to start. Okay, if you think logically. So don’t think logically think that this is the time because whatever stage you are in, you will never be prepared. you will always miss something like ideas, teams, skills or environment support. So, I think my first view is to take it slow, take it as a small project within the campus, do some small projects, do it with the team and become successful at it like once you do it, then take a bigger project, maybe within campus and then you start moving outside the campus. So one by one, you do it. I think that’s gonna make you more patient in terms of whatever goals that you’re looking onto. Okay, so whether it’s entrepreneurship or if you want to do a job, these skills are very important. And I think once you demonstrate success, it’s very important to keep the stakeholders. Their conviction on you, which means directly, first of all, your mom, your dad, your relatives, your cousins, because they’re one of the biggest investors. Okay? If they support you emotionally, your job is half-done. Okay? But, if they have not seen it, it’s your responsibility to make them see it with evidence, facts, data, and with the small success stories, so one by one, I don’t believe in you. Okay, so by this time, we would have covered multiple projects, would have convinced your family members. So now you’re like, yes, I can take a bigger attempt, and then you should. You should have access to mentors and advisors and to help from within the campus. So I would say reach out to more and more successful alumni, talk to more and more people. People will have opinions, people will have views. You have to decide what’s best for you. Same thing. I’m here to decide for myself. All people in the world will only advise you. Most of the advice is going to be useless. So you have to figure that out. But firstly, at least start with that and I think fourth, I would say is dignity. When you think about that, you think as you start the leader for study, no, I lead this. Don’t start with a weak tone. I think the weak tone starts with simple things that try to correct. So we can help you with that. So for example, like uses of that serves you something, it just feels that you are not very valuable, another person is valuable. That’s incorrect. Because it’s something gonna be hugely successful and we want you to be successful. So that’s one. The next thing is, you know, that humanity is important, but self-dignity is even more important. If I don’t believe in myself, nobody’s going to believe in me. So that’s something I want you to think when you think about this enemy and state hate. You start with the main success stories of the universities, Campus said hey we’re doing great and we did this deserve a very very well I wanted to be here and you know to allocate the budget you know from the university and but stated to the university that what’s the utility here? What’s the success and demonstrate that one by one these people and now with these channels do more and more talks. They don’t have to be here you can do a Hangout session. Okay, no, in today’s you know, you can do a WhatsApp call. But that continuous touch with people is very, very important. I think it’s also a responsibility of the alumni to come out there will always have limited time. But if you have more and more alumni, you can use the time. so I think this is something important. Hopefully, you can for sure, you know, start towards building a very successful company.
Picture Credits: The Photographic Society, BIT Mesra