Dating apps have been in existence in India for quite some time now. However, scaling in a market where dating is traditionally considered taboo, has not been easy for homegrown apps.
But along came the pandemic, and with it, a new normal. When everything from shopping to education went virtual, disrupting internet businesses all through, why not go online to find that perfect date too!
According to Statista, dating apps are projected to be used by 4.3 percent of India’s population by 2025 – up from 3 percent in 2021.
And riding this wave is Bengaluru-based Jitesh Bisht, who launched, a dating app, in June 2020.
“We thought it was the right time to enter this market because more people beyond the metros are comfortable transacting on the internet than compared to earlier years,” says Jitesh, in a conversation with YourStory.
An MBA graduate from Christ University, Bangalore, Jitesh had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. While in college, he participated in many startup related events and started his career with InMobi, now an advertising unicorn.
Through this entrepreneurial venture, he focuses on getting people to start conversations with someone new. “One of the biggest problems for people on dating apps is to start talking to a new person. And this behaviour is quite prevalent in non-metro cities,” says Jitesh.
How it works
To take this inhibition away, the Meotida Pvt. Ltd. run dating app provides topic suggestions people can use to start their conversation. The app also claims to keep a very strict tab on flagged accounts.
“We want people, and especially women, to feel safe on our app. And, we also want them to be able to break the ice without coming off too strong,” says Jitesh.
The app’s target audience is those between 18 and 65 years. He adds that at least 60 percent of users come from cities including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, among others. Users from Tier II cities including Lucknow, Bhopal, Kanpur, Patna, and Surat also join the platform.
HiHi currently has over 100,000 downloads, according to data available on the Google PlayStore. The Android only app aims to get more than 500,000 downloads in the coming months, and is also in the process of launching an iOS app.
After giving users free access for the first six months, Hihi’s makers decided to put some features behind a paywall. While earlier users could swipe as many profiles as they wanted, now there is a limit of 15 free profiles a day. The app also has the video calling feature, giving users the option to date virtually.
There are weekly, monthly, half, and full year plans starting at Rs 90 and going up to Rs 2799.
“We also keep toying with a few seasonal discounts here and there to see how people react to it. But we don’t want to make it a regular practice,” says Jitesh.
The low-ticket size and monthly plans are for people looking to explore a few relationships, while the bigger ticket sizes are designed for people looking for long-term relationships. Through these monetisation models, the firm claims to have started generating revenue since March 2021. The founder refrains from revealing the revenue numbers as the firm is still in its growth stage.
As of now, HiHi acquires users through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and is also involved in a few brand building exercises.
The market and competition
There are between 30,000 and 40,000 monthly active users on the app, out of which Jitesh aims to convert 5-10 percent into paid subscribers, which will help in more revenue generation.
One of the biggest challenges Hihi is facing is reducing the drop off rate on the app. While people might download the app, they do not always complete the registration process, and may not even begin to try the app. Sometimes even after completing the process, people don’t end up using the app, Jitesh admits.
Hihi might have good prospects in the current booming internet market, but it competes with many local and international players including giants such as Tinder and Bumble, Delhi-based TrulyMadly, Abel Joseph-run Aisle, which is also expanding in regional languages, and BetterHalf, among others.
When asked about HiHi’s USP, Jitesh refers to his diverse experience in adtech, influencer marketing and gaming, which all came together in the creation of the app. He adds that his understanding of analytics, and offerings of low ticket-size in-app purchases also enables them to model the app according to customer interests.
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