Dating isn’t what it use to be. With the conventional means of meeting people not always working its magic, more and more people are turning to the modern day method- online. Online dating has been around for a while now. When it first cropped on the scene, there were stigmas and people didn’t always want to admit to meeting online. Whereas today, its not becoming accepted but very common, especially among working professionals. Now shift it over the desi demographic, you’ll find that most sites are matrimonial oriented. Is the dating phase implied? Now the end game for a lot of people is to get married but how do you date someone with just that objective clearly listed by the website. Dating is a right of passage too. Courtship, long term relationships, engagements and then that big step. Isn’t that the progression? There is no sure fire recipe for love or to find your better half, but the initial aspect of meeting someone definitely is a key ingredient. One of the increasingly popular avenues is Dil Mil. The app is available on Android and IOS. Its a modern day tool for the modern day desi. We had the opportunity to interview the founder of Dil Mil, KJ Dhaliwal, to learn more about what makes Dil Mil different and why single Desi’s should check it out.
1.) What inspired you to make the Dil Mil platform?
So if you look at all of these websites, they’re broken in a sense. A large number of people on Shaadi.com and sites like it are being represented by their mom/dad/brother/or sister, and there are a lot of fake and incomplete profiles. Coupled with a poor user interface, what ends up happening is that you have a marriage website that is a mess of misleading accounts, password-protected pictures, and huge time-consuming profiles. Dil Mil solves all of this and more.
2.) Tell us about your team. Who are the main players alongside you?
Sukhmeet Toor and I were the original two founders. Sukhmeet and I met in Mountain View in late 2013. Ever since then, we have become close friends, as he was one of the first people I got acquainted with after leaving Wall St. and moving to SF to work at a startup. Sukhmeet had over 8 years of experience at Microsoft and was a lead developer on Microsoft’s Office Suite of products like Powerpoint and Outlook. I came up with the idea of Dil Mil (“Dil Mile” at the time) as I realized there was a huge gap in the market and we started working on it early 2014. We put together an early prototype that summer. Late last year we added Tom to the team, who is also a phenomenal engineer that has helped us build our core technology.
Right now the team is at 7 people full time and 2 part time, and we’re hiring so if you know any smart and motivated people, let me know.
3.) What challenges did you face during your initial stages?
One major challenge was making sure our technology can evolve seamlessly to meet user needs. As the app is growing at a very healthy rate, there are a lot of scalability problems that arise. Fortunately we have very strong engineers on our team.
4.) Did you perceive any push back from the desi community in creating a ‘dating’ platform over a matrimonial themed one? What made you think the South Asian community was ready for a dating app and being open with the concept?
No, in fact we were often times encouraged due to difficulty in finding a good match and issues with existing “matrimonial” platforms.
The community is absolutely ready – the new generation wants to find their match on their own and they want to get to know them before jumping into a marriage.
5.) With all the other types of dating sites, what makes Dil Mil special or different?
In addition to my answer for #1, there are a lot of great dating sites and apps out there. What makes Dil Mil different is our ability to really cater the product toward the needs of the South Asian market. Things like religion and community are still very prevalent in this community when looking for a match, and we’re able to marry technology with user experience better than any other South Asian dating app on the market. Dil Mil is building proprietary matching algorithms to solve problems of social discovery for South Asians globally. Each culture is different and we’re able to take small nuances into account, in order to improve the overall experience for South Asians.
6.) Do you think there is still a stigma in the desi community regarding online dating?
Yes there still is, however that is changing very fast. In our technology enabled world where you can use your smartphone to pretty much do anything, using technology to make dating easier is a natural progression.
7.) What do you say to those who try to compare Dil Mil to sites like Tinder?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as both Tinder and Dil Mil are similar in the sense that they are very easy to use and user friendly. I do want to mention that if you want to find quality South Asians looking for longer term relationships, then Dil Mil is the better bet.
8.) How do your demographics range with the users? (Can a 30 something driven working professional meet a viable pool of possibilities on Dil Mile? Is this a realistic option for a divorcee or single parent?)
Our user base consists of people from all backgrounds and age groups, so yes it is very possible. In fact, the ability to filter exactly what you’re looking for is what makes Dil Mil uniquely positioned to solve dating problems for pretty much anyone.
9.) How often do you hear of success stories about people marrying after meeting on Dil Mil? What is one of your favorite testimonials if you can sum one up for us?
We’re at about a couple per week now, and that’s just of the ones we know about. Here’s a success story on our blog that I really enjoy.
10.) What is your advice to other startups trying to get off the ground?
If you are trying to build a startup, it’s very important to test your assumptions before wasting time and resources trying to build something, only to find out that no one wants to buy or use it. Try to build the simplest prototype you can to test your idea. Don’t worry about making it perfect the first time around, because your early users will forgive you and most importantly give you feedback so you know what’s important to focus on. Lastly, and probably the most important, if you’re trying to build a startup that requires skills that you currently don’t have (I say currently because you can teach yourself anything), such as developing an application, you have to get out there to find and convince highly intelligent people to work with you. Outsourcing the production of the core of your product just won’t work in the long run, as it just isn’t a sustainable way to build a startup.
11.) What is your advice to those singles considering online platforms?
We do a lot of data analysis at Dil Mil and we’ve figured out that if you’re a single South Asian living outside of South Asia (India, Pakistan, etc.) your chances of running in to a good match offline are very low, so you should definitely try online dating to maximize your search. Also when signing up for Dil Mil or any other online dating platform make sure to upload great pictures, describe yourself and what you’re looking for, be honest and genuine, and most of all have fun and don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t respond.
12.) Where do you hope to take your company next? Any new ventures associated to Dil Mil or enhancements in the works?
Right now we’re focused on refining our technology to continue to penetrate international markets. We are currently live in US, UK, Canada, and Australia.A few months ago we raised over $1M in a investment round from some of the most prominent investors in the Silicon Valley, such as:
- Will Bunker – ex-president & founder at Match.com
- Scott Banister – former PayPal board member & Ironport founder
- Naval Ravikant – founder of AngelList
- Rich Nelson – former Managing Director for M&A at IAC (owners of Tinder, Match, etc.)
- Tom Fallows – founder at Google Express, cranking at Uber
- 500 Startups – seed stage fund via Pankaj Jain
We’re now focused on growing the team to accelerate our growth. You can learn more about our team and investors here: https://angel.co/dil-mil
We want to thank KJ for his time in answering our questions about Dil Mil. He is always supporting the South Asian community and beyond with donations and sponsorship. We thank him for his entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit in this competitive space. Startups are a tough venture and it is great to see them be successful, especially in a market like online dating. Dil Mil is providing an amazing platform for a vast majority of South Asians looking for their other half. Dating can get harder the older we get, with avenues of meeting others becoming limited to our familiar surroundings. People are preoccuppied with grad school, med school, working, managing businesses, being their own bosses while still trying to enjoy a social life. Some of us get so busy making a living, we sacrifice the social aspect to a degree where dating becomes intimidating. Dil Mil is taking that intimidation out of the equation. Check out Dil Mil, let us know what your experience is like! We would love to feature your match as well! For the rest of you in the dating game, download the app NOW! Excited to see Dil Mil in the dating space and where it leads our single selves.
Check out their most eligible bachelor and bachelorette lists here: http://dilmilapp.tumblr.com/
Website: Dil Mil
Facebook: Dil Mil