India's biggest online matchmaker opened its initial public offering Monday, selling shares in Matrimony.com Ltd. for about Rs 950 apiece.
Backed by Silicon Valley investor Bessemer Venture Partners, Matrimony.com expects to raise as much as Rs 500 crore ($78 million) with the IPO closing on Wednesday. The startup has already raised funds from Goldman Sachs India Ltd., BNP Paribas Arbitrage Baring Private Equity India AIF.
With marriages in the country often arranged by relatives, the startup matches brides and grooms within the country as well as Indian expatriates. The company's websites and mobile apps offer services in 15 languages and prospective partners can be categorized by fields including religion and caste. Profiles can be uploaded on behalf of a son or daughter, brother or sister, indicating that many Indian families are using technology to cast a wide net.
"We are India's first pure-play consumer internet company to go for a listing," founder and Chief Executive Officer Murugavel Janakiraman said in an interview. "We provide an abundance of choice and thousands of matches to suit every criterion, all at the tap of a key."
The shares are being offered in a price band of 983 to 985 rupees each. Matrimony.com filed a draft prospectus in 2015 but didn't go ahead with that share offering.
While a basic listing is free, the company offers a variety of premium packages from $65 for three months, with additional privileges like instant chats with prospects and priority listing in search results.
The company derives 90 percent of revenue from paid profiles and has also added connections to wedding services such as a directory of photographers, decorators and caterers in what is estimated to be a $50-billion industry.
In a step away from tradition, the platform allows brides and grooms to create their own profiles and offers "no religious belief" as an option, while not providing profile boxes for color of skin or wealth, as newspaper matrimonial ads commonly do.
Janakiraman said the number of profiles jumped 22 percent last year and just 6 million of the 60 million Indians looking for a life partner are online.
The company, with sites including BharatMatrimony.com and EliteMatrimony.com, has strong brand recognition and a leadership position, said Amarjeet Maurya, an equity research analyst with Angel Broking.
"It has strong user database, which provides competitive edge to the company," Maurya said in a note this month.
Matrimony.com's most prominent rivals include Jeevansaathi.com owned by Info Edge India as well as Shaadi.com whose owner People Interactive Group is backed by Sequoia Capital.
Online matchmakers face increasing competition from mushrooming dating apps, including a local version of Tinder, which allow young Indians to specify their own interests and search parameters. Such apps use computer algorithms to suggest matches. While these apps don't specify marriage as an end goal, weddings of those who first met on dating apps are becoming more common.