Marriages have long been a family affair in the South Asian community, with parents relying on family networks to find the right match for their children. But with the advent of technology, the role of a matchmaker was taken over by traditional matrimony websites, and dating apps followed soon after. However, amongst the vast array of online dating options, there aren’t many that cater solely to South Asians’ cultural specifications.
Dil Mil, a dating app created by Indian American entrepreneurs KJ Dhaliwal and Sukhmeet Toor, aims to combine traditional South Asian values with modern technology.
Dhaliwal describes it as an “efficient and advanced South Asian matchmaking platform.”
“Too many of our attractive and successful siblings, cousins, and friends were having a hard time finding suitable matches,” Dhaliwal wrote on the app’s website. “And in this day and age, finding love should not be so difficult. Existing methods are either outdated or just don’t cut it. So, we came together and figured out how we could leverage technology to create the perfect fix.”
The app claims to have fixed over a million matches, with as many as three marriages a week.
For many South Asians, apps like Tinder are not addressing their desire to preserve their cultural and religious heritage, Dhaliwal and Toor told Forbes.
Founded in 2014, the app, according to Forbes, offers a middle ground for South Asians who aren’t looking for either hookups or arranged marriages. The app, instead, focuses on modern dating methods without downplaying religious and cultural identities.
So how exactly is Dil Mil different from other dating apps? Dil Mil is doing more than just bringing tech to cultural expectations, they’re bringing predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to romance, reports Forbes.
It works towards developing personalized matches for its users. Dhaliwal and Toor have built a learning algorithm that integrates dynamic rankings, which means that every time someone logs in and makes his/her match preferences clear, he/she can see not only relevant matches, but also their prospects are more accurately matched compared to their prior use.
Each individual, and not their parents, have full control of their profile. Once a profile has been created, users can log in through their Facebook accounts.
Liking and disliking profiles are completely anonymous, until one is actually matched with someone, and users are also able to hide their profile while continuing to message their matches, Dhaliwal told Forbes.
In addition, only the interested person’s first name is shown, which is pulled from their Facebook account to ensure authenticity. For further authentication, users can connect their other social media profiles to their account, like Instagram and LinkedIn.
The duo, adds Forbes, have raised nearly $4 million in pre-Series A funding and have been backed by celebrity investors such as 500 Startups, Will Bunker of Match.com, and Scott Banister of PayPal.
The pair is now looking to replicate the success of Dil Mil by launching another dating app, but this time, it is for the Jewish community.
San Francisco Bay Area-based Dhaliwal and Toor launched Shalom Oct. 11.
“The reason we started with the Jewish community was we saw a lot of similarities in terms of the values around community, the values around family, the values around marriage,” Dhaliwal told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “It’s a very tight-knit, high-affinity community, just like the South Asian community.”
Both Shalom and Dil Mil rely on algorithms that suggest matches based on user behavior and data, so that people are more likely to see profiles that are to their liking.
“We think we definitely have a better product and the back-end technology stacked to actually match people based on data,” Dhaliwal told JTA. “We do a lot of work in making sure our algorithms are set up in a way that actually results in people matching with people they end up marrying one day.”
Dhaliwal clearly believes in taking risks in life. On Facebook, he describes “risk as an opportunity to make a discovery that may not be known, understood, or exist otherwise.”