Why algorithm-based matchmakers are gaining popularity.
WHILE we might only remember Patrick Dempsey’s portrayal of Jack Qwant in Bridget Jones’s Baby as a drop-dead gorgeous billionaire, our attention here is on Qwant’s algorithm-based dating site. As in the film, the trend is now gaining popularity in India, with startups looking to real-life forums for inspiration—like Los Angeles-based E-harmony, where couples have been matched successfully for the last 16 years based on a mathematically-assessed set of parameters.
In our country, the drill for an arranged marriage usually involves relatives, newspaper ads and a profile on shaadi.com. However, the match-making is based on general categories. Banihal, a new Matchmaking startup, is changing that by adopting a scientific method. “People shouldn’t have to adjust. A marriage works when both are on the same page and that’s the kind of people we match you with,” says Ishdeep Sawhney, CEO of Banihal. All it takes is about 20 minutes of your time—to fill out a detailed profile, covering all relevant aspects of a relationship. Questions about the people you admire, your take on risk and adventure, and how you handle situations that crop up in relationships are a few of the aspects covered. The responses are then analysed by their artificial intelligence system.
Sawhney says that over the last year, travel, reading preferences and music have become popular factors for couples searching for partners online. “No one wants to settle for a sub-optimal match. Every little detail counts,” adds the San Francisco-based entrepreneur. And statistics favour the science, with divorce rates among people who met through E-harmony (according to a 2015 Bloomberg study) standing at 3.86 per cent against the national US average of 50. “When we can get computers to cook our food and manage our money, why can’t we trust them with finding us the right one? The odds are in their favour,” he concludes.
— Lavanya Lakshminarayanan