Stemming from her personal journey of trying to find the “right” life partner, Anuradha Gupta, Founder and CEO of Vows for Eternity, doesn’t believe in making guarantees because she believes the essential things in life don’t come with promises. “Rather, I feel things come to us either when we need to learn something or because we are ready for it,” she says.
Founded in 2012, the global matchmaking company is committed to going beyond the traditional means of matchmaking – by connecting life partners based on values, mindsets, and personalities. VFE has successfully established its presence with a member pool across 65 countries and offices in the US, London, Delhi, and Mumbai. In an exclusive interaction with YourStory, Anuradha talks about being a global matchmaker and how marriages have changed drastically over time.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YourStory (YS): Being in the business for more than ten years now, VFE has come a long way as a global matchmaker. Looking back, tell us how the journey started.
Anuradha Gupta (AG): I got married at 34 because I didn’t feel ready until about 32. Of course, by Indian standards, I was marrying late enough. Besides, I thought the person I was supposed to be with would magically appear, but he didn’t! So cut to my family receiving and sending biodatas, me going on dates which, for the most part, were with people I could never see myself sharing my life with.
Biodatas for a life partner often are like applications focusing on parameters like education, interests, and hobbies. But when was the last time two people – with similar education who both enjoyed watching movies and listening to music as they went for a drive – enjoyed the happiest marriage? How do you convey the more profound feelings that sustain a marriage, like things you feel strongly about, experiences, what one wants in life, failed relationships, and what one learns from those? Some of us are fine with how things have been for generations, and some just aren’t. I wasn’t, and thus, decided to start a service that went beyond just characteristics and likes and dislikes on a piece of paper but also about hand-holding in one’s search for a life partner.
YS: So, VFE is like a fresh start in the traditional grounds of marriage and matchmaking services. What’s the procedure for enrollment with VFE?
AG: At VFE, we feel that conversations are critical to how we work, right from the first introductory call; after all, nothing substitutes the human element, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. So, potential members need to dial or write to VFE through our website, after which the communications team gets in touch to assess their mutual fit.
YS: The thought of global matchmaking way beyond traditional means is a bold move. What would be your take on that, especially after running this empire successfully for a decade?
AG: Traditionally, marriages in India were based on the commonalities between two families, and the rest was expected to fall into place based on adjustments that, more often than not, were made by women. I believe marriage is an equal partnership, where two people create for themselves a space that is owned equally by them, supported by the four pillars of respect, love, friendship, and acceptance.
Of course, we have witnessed abundant societal changes in the last decade, including normalizing women’s financial independence and late marriage. I think these are all positive changes, and we feel a sense of pride and gratitude that we play a part in being facilitators and opening doors for people, bridging the east-meets-west gap, and connecting two truly aligned individuals.
YS: “If you are here, it’s probably because you are where I was a few years ago.” How would you describe this thought that resonates with the concept of VFE?
AG: Vows for Eternity is a belief, and the name reflects the sentiment that marriage is, in fact, forever. My experiences gave birth to VFE, but I do feel very strongly that there are many people who, like me, feel ready to share their life with someone, and just like I didn’t, they also did not know how to make that happen. I think life is a lot about shared journeys, and one can be in the best place in the world, and it means very little if one doesn’t have the right person to share it with. So I wanted someone I could relate to who would be able to support me by introducing me to the potentially right person. I have also realized how we evolve and change over a period of time, but our fundamentals stay the same; they are part of our core.
YS: What makes VFE stand apart from other players in the business?
AG: Every player brings something different to the table. Thus, one needs to identify which shoe fits them the best. Coming back to VFE, I believe it is a mindset that considers this space of life private. Divorces are on the rise for various reasons, gender roles within marriage are getting blurry, and people are more open to giving life and themselves another chance, with our oldest member being 68 and our youngest 23.
The last decade has witnessed several changes and transformations in the matchmaking scene. VFE is far ahead of its times because it focuses on equal partnerships– to seek someone you can share your life with and marry someone you can’t live without.
YS: The matchmaking scene has undergone rapid transformations in the last ten years. Keeping up with the changes, how well have you incorporated them into your business?
AG: Over the years, we have consistently challenged the status quo, whether it has been about the expectations from parents, gender equality, stereotypical gender roles, and raising questions on why, as a society, personal choices need to be defended, why compromise should be a given, why divorce is still taboo in a lot of instances, and a host of other issues which have no place in a partnership. In the years to come, we hope to continue to get the love and support from people and the ability to make a difference in countless lives. So marry for the right reasons and set your own timelines.
What has changed over the years, however, is the scale and scope of our global footprint.
VFE has grown from being a two-person to a 26-member team, spanning across four countries, with members in 65 countries– all this while being bootstrapped, and even after this, it seems we are just getting started.