Last month, Bharat Matrimony completed 14 years of operations. With over three million marriages till date, the company serves 20 million people across the globe and has been ranked India’s Most Trusted Matrimony Brand by the Brand Trust Report 2014. “We want to be the custodians of marriage in India,” says Murugavel Janakiraman quite seriously.
We are meeting for lunch at Dario’s, a vegetarian Italian restaurant (in deference to the fact that I am a vegetarian) tucked away in one of the bylanes of the upmarket Poes Garden area where the chief minister and Rajinikanth live. I ask him about the growing competition. “All segments in this business have been pioneered by us. Everyone follows. We are the leaders.” For instance, it was his idea to start EliteMatrimony.com for the rich. If the wealthy want to meet other wealthy prospects, they have to cough up R1 lakh to register! “The rich also need help,” he says. He now has AssistedMatrimony.com for those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Murugavel was the first member of his family to go to the college. He grew up in a blue-collared tenement in north Chennai. He was a bright student. Today, he is able to laugh about his struggles when he was put in an English medium school for his Plus 2 classes. We order garlic bread with parsley and sun dried tomato, to be followed by mushroom soup.
His maternal uncle, the only educated member in the family, asked him to study chemistry in college so that he could get a job easily. As it happened, he got admission into BSc Statistics. He had not even heard about statistics. He put in hours of hard work, conquered the subject, and also started taking part in inter-college competitions. A degree in statistics made him eligible for MCA (Master of Computer Applications). “Till then, I had never touched a computer. I applied for a seat in Madras University. I was one of the 15 students who were selected. If I had got into the chemistry course, I may have been working in some laboratory on a monthly salary of R10,000.”
It is time to order the main course. We ask for penne arrabiata and stromboli pizza, and decide to share. Murugavel tells me that when he was doing his Master’s, he realised that he had excellent programming skills. He gained confidence and found himself a job in Singapore in