Indonesian singles no longer need to fear that great question that haunts them on family occasions: Have you found the one yet?
“We spoke to a lot of users of matchmaking apps and realised that people were largely disappointed … because they felt that these apps were more suited for one-night stands or flings,” says Sumesh Menon, CEO and Co-Founder of Woo.
“There is a clear need for a platform for a select few like-minded people who are looking for love,” he adds.
While other dating apps or sites tend to emphasise users’ looks, Woo highlights the importance of having the same hobbies and interests as a conversation starter.
Users can search for profiles based on their criteria with a TagSearch feature. The app also has QuestionCast for users to broadcast questions and match with those whose answers they find interesting.
Apart from that, male users can also record their voice and post it in their profile to tell prospective dates why he is the one.
In India, Woo claims to have over 1.7 million downloads in Android and iOS. Since its launch in October, it has been downloaded 10,000 times by Indonesian users, though the app is selective about building its user community.
“We don’t aim to reach one million overnight. We want to slowly build the community, make sure people feel the benefits of the app, then go from there,” he states.
Safety before love
In an interview with e27, Menon notes that the company understands users’ safety concerns when interacting with strangers on the Internet.
To address that, there are several restrictions that the app applies, including a real-name policy and a by-invitation model. Aspiring users can only get invitations from people who are already on the app, giving Woo the image of an exclusive community.
It also gives women full control over their safety and privacy by only revealing their initials to male users.
“Another thing we learnt during our research … Often, dating sites are filled with married people or [who are] in relationships. Which leads to a lot of disappointment for someone who is actually looking for love. So we have taken a calculated move to keep married people out of the app,” says Menon.
He also adds that they have rejected about 30 per cent of applicants who are later found to be married or in a relationship.
Besides, that market is already owned by Ashley Madison.
Hitting Indonesian ground running
The company is currently being run remotely from Delhi and Singapore, with Indonesian consultants on the ground to handle marketing and research. The company plans to set up an office in Jakarta as the business grows. The prospective move is seen as an entrance to the Southeast Asian region.
“Right now we are just spending time talking to users to understand what formula works. And we have been getting really good feedback,” Menon says.
The CEO also notes certain unique user behaviour in Indonesia that sets it apart from other markets.
“One thing we noticed is that Indonesian women feel more safe to meet [their matches] in real life,” he says.
Peush Bery, DGM of Woo, who is also present during the interview, adds that the number of interactions in the app is also a lot higher in Indonesia.
“So people do not just keep their matches on hold, they are actually interacting with each other,” he explains.
Aside from Zomato and Practo, there are not that many Indian startups entering the Indonesian market lately. According to Menon, this is due to the size of the Indian market itself, which encourages startups to focus on solving issues internally before expanding to other countries.
Menon says those who do plan to enter the Indonesian market should keep one thing in mind.
“You have to understand Bahasa Indonesia in order to understand the Indonesian market. That’s my key takeaway,” he concludes.