Beyond Valentine’s Day: Floh is here to help you find ‘The One’

It’s Valentine’s Day and if you’re single and in your mid to late 20s, it’s just another day to let your Facebook feed and parents remind you how your peers are ‘settling down’ and how you should get moving too.

If you cringe at the thought of blind dates, classifieds and matrimonial sites may be you should take a look at Floh. Started in 2011 by Siddharth Mangharam, his wife Simran and partner Siddharth Misra, Floh is a platform- “not a dating network,” Siddharth Mangharam clarifies – to bring educated, accomplished singles together with the goal of finding a life-partner, in a minimally awkward setting.

“The idea for Floh was born out of conversations with our single friends – the guys are always complaining that there aren’t any single women and the single women are usually wondering where all the single men have vanished,” said Mangharam.

The team has the right mix of business expertise and logistical capabilities: both the Siddharths have worked with multinationals such as McKinsey, Coca-Cola and Microsoft; Simran was planning events for Herbalife across the world and also a tour manager of Pt. Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar.

The Mangharams manage the business and social part of Floh while Misra focuses on the product side by taking time off from the MBA he is doing at the Harvard Business School.

Floh does set certain restrictions on who can sign up for their services – you have to be between 25 and 35 years of age. In Mangharam’s own words, the clients are generally “urban, educated and independent folks”. About 90 percent have a master’s degree. So far the network is a mix of professionals like lawyers, consultants, bankers, doctors, architects, non-profit professionals, and even a TED Fellow.

Members have to be either invited to join Floh or should fill up a form on the site and request to join. Once the team verifies an application through LinkedIn, Facebook and phone numbers and thinks an applicant would fit in well with their network, an invite is sent out.

Customer fees, which comes as subscription packages and event fee, are the company’s revenue stream. There are three subscription plans: Rs 7,500 for three months, Rs 12,000 for six months, and Rs 15,000 for 12 months and events start at Rs 500 with prices varying depending on the event, the venue and what’s included as part of the experience.

In an attempt to make the ‘networking’ as comfortable as possible, Floh’s events include outings like private, curated tours of the India Art Fair in Delhi, with VIP access, and sundowner barbeques in Bangalore. All events are organised for large groups, to take away the awkwardness of random one-on-one blind dates.

The  company’s flagship event is the sailing experiences in Mumbai. Members compete in a race around the city harbour in  four luxury yachts skippered by members of the Indian Olympic Team. The outing costs Rs 3,999 including dinner at a high-end restaurant.

It isn’t hard to believe that business has been good for Floh given our society where even your hairdressers start recommending ‘matches’ for you once you cross 24. The platform began with a dozen members in Bangalore and now has over 1,200 spread out across 15 cities including the metros, Chandigarh, Baroda, Ahmedabad, Pune, Dubai, Chicago and Singapore.

The entirely bootstrapped venture has been generating revenues since it started, with the team reinvesting profits back into the business with the goal of hitting a faster growth rate and expanding their product offerings.

“Last year 12 couples got married after finding a partner at Floh and the company’s goal is to see that number go up a 1000 times,”  Mangharam said. With that in mind, Floh recently launched two new services – Table For Six and The Floh Box Office – to allow members to meet up outside events. A digital platform is also in the works to allow members to connect easily.

“Our vision is to be the dominant network for singles looking for a life partner,” Mangharam said.

 Published on Firstbiz – February, 2014