Profile : Vows That wow

Marriages are made in heaven and celebrated on earth. Today, an increasing number of them are made over internet sites. Anuradha Vinod Gupta, CEO and founder of one such site --Vows for Eternity – has brought an elite twist to matchmaking, especially for US-based Indians and top corporates of the country

Many believe that if someone is successful, smart and rich, a truly loving life partner will magically appear by his/her side. But sadly, that is not true. Very few realise that even celebrities are unable to find a suitable marriage partner, says Anuradha Vinod Gupta, top Indian-American matchmaker from the United States.

Founder and CEO of a four-year-old matrimony site called, ‘Vows for Eternity,’ her impressive track record of bringing about over 400 marriages in such a short period has made her a matchmaking guru to India’s super rich, famous and lonely corporate leaders and Bollywood stars.

A globetrotting young entrepreneur, Anu, as she is fondly called, has become a global matchmaker-counsellor-relationship expert and a media personality. Her client list is not only restricted to high-flying corporate giants and glamorous celebrities from filmdom but also includes ordinary businessmen and white-collar professionals like doctors, engineers and IT professionals from higher middle-class families.

The expert matchmaker, who has helped many Indian-Americans find their perfect match was in New Delhi recently when Corporate Citizen caught up with her.

How did Vows for Eternity come about?

It actually came out of my own experience. I got married late, by Indian standards. Definitely much later than when my parents wanted me to get married. But as it happens these days, after getting a good education, girls also want to follow their dream careers and parents encourage them to live their dreams. That happened with me. After studying psychology for five years and then following it with an MBA from the Melbourne Business School in Australia, I went to London and joined the legendary football club Arsenal.

But why?

Because I was really enjoying my work. I loved it. But every time I was with my parents, marriage was the only topic they were interested in. For Indian parents, career and all those things are nice but unless they have got their daughter married, they feel their responsibility is not done. I was 32 years, old at that time. I thought, whenever I want to get married, I will just find somebody and marry him. But it doesn’t happen like that.

Then how did it happen? Did someone introduce you to your husband?

Yes, somebody, who I did not know, introduced me to my husband. I was in London and my husband was in the United States. If I had tried to do it with my own contacts, I would never have found him. But by God’s grace, I was very fortunate. When we shifted to New York, I saw Indian American friends of mine going through tough times. I also saw the pain and anguish of their worrying parents at not being able to get their daughters married.

So what did you do?

One day, while I was talking to my husband, he said, “Look Anu, why don’t you do something? Since you feel so strongly about these issues and have an immediate connect with them, why can’t you reach out to them? You’ve studied psychology. You are a people’s person with good parakh(judgment) of people. What better way than by helping two people connect for eternity?” So, that’s how I got this idea.

But there are already so many matchmaking sites doing the same thing. What is special about yours?

The whole idea of starting Vows for Eternity came out of my own experiences. The problems that I faced or saw my friends go through have been properly addressed. I’ve also taken care to design it for people who are extremely successful, well travelled, progressive and cosmopolitan in their outlook, belonging to extremely cultured families. However, they have not been able to find a like-minded life partner in their own social circles. Unlike other matchmaking sites, we do not offer any profiles or matching photographs or contact information concerning age, height, income, profession, location, phone numbers. We’re a strictly personalised matrimonial search offering very secure and confidential services to its clients. People who come to us do not want their names, photographs and personal information to be shared or displayed for anybody to see.

What about a personality fit?

Most girls today are highly educated professionals who do not want to marry early because they’re working, earning good salaries and have their own career dreams. By the time they make up their mind, they are quite set in their personalities and thought processes. At that stage, they may change for each other, but a little bit only. So, it’s very important to understand the personality of your client and his/her value system before you look for a suitable match.

How do you do that?

We have two types of memberships: general and premium. I personally meet each and every member of the premium category, face to face, wherever they are. Only when I meet somebody do I get a sense of his/her personality. In my conversations which last for about two to three hours, I learn everything about my client’s childhood, his/her growing up years, family, education, nature of job, likes and dislikes and interests and hobbies. But can I know a person 100 per cent in just one such meeting? No. So, I try to understand what kind of a person he is and what qualities he is looking for in his life partner. Simultaneously, I also try to figure out what kind of a person will be a good/ right fit for this individual from the pool of members within our exclusive club. I have two psychologists also in my team to confirm it independently. But I have to travel a lot because we have members all over the world and I have to meet them face to face.

What about general members?

For general members, who are more in numbers, I follow a different route: since it is not possible to travel and meet each one of them personally, I prefer doing a video call. I don’t do any matching till I have done at least one video call with them, if not two.

‘Her impressive track record of bringing about over 400 marriages in such a short period has made her a matchmaking guru to India’s super rich, famous and lonely corporate leaders and Bollywood stars’

What are your criteria for membership, and what fees do you charge?

The criteria constitutes age, income, education and view point or outlook. Our general membership for six months costs Rs.55,000 and Rs.85,000 for 12 months. When you take membership for six months, we will send you profiles for six months and connect you to somebody in this period. We also have an unlimited time period membership for Rs. one lakh and a premium membership for Rs.two lakh with unlimited time!

Are your services dependent totally on a web-based model?
That’s right. We’ve never gone to anybody. I started it a little over four years ago. In India, we’ve been here two years. In the first year, when I started it in New York, we did all promotions on social media, all digital. But in the second year, we cut down on digital media because people who were contacting us were either through referrals or word of mouth. So we did not feel the need to go anywhere else.

But what were the results?

Not everybody got married. But even people who didn’t get married were happy because we introduced them to some quality people. Our biggest publicity has been word of mouth and referrals. Now, in the last two years in India, we have grown a little over 300 percent every year. For a start up like ours, that’s great. In fact, last year, we closed our membership for some time because we were a little over subscribed. But now we are ready to take the next leap and grow.

What made you think you’ll be successful in doing this kind of a job?

I studied psychology for five years which helped a lot. By God’s grace, I had some very life-changing experiences. Life teaches you a lot which books never teach. If you are interested in doing something and your focus is on quality and not on quantity, then success is all yours.

What is the country-profile of your members?

About 45 percent of our members are based in the US. We work with Indians, NRIs and second generation Indian-Americans. Almost 40 percent of our members are in India. Outside the US, we have members based mostly in the UK, Singapore and Dubai. They are affluent global Indians who are mostly professionals and industrialists. Currently we have close to 1300 members. But this figure keeps changing. We are a team of 15 people in India. We recently launched our services in Singapore. We have a small team in Singapore and the US.

Isn’t your database very small?

But the people who come to me have already tried larger databases and it has not worked for them. That’s why they have come to us. Even though you have a small group of people, say 1000 or 1500 who are of similar wavelengths, then that’s a lot of people. That’s one thing, but it generally takes one to two years to actually get the job done. The quickest somebody got married through us was four months, but that’s very rare. Generally, it ranges from four to eight months. The maximum would be one to two years. Our success rate is about 35 per cent.

What happens to those who did not get a match within this period?

It depends. Sometimes they renew membership for a further period. Sometimes they get married through us, sometimes through others. I always tell people, just as when you apply for a job, you do not apply for only one job. Nobody does that. You apply to many places for better choice. The same is true here. Sometimes they don’t find their match through us. It doesn’t work for them. Sometimes while the membership is still going on, they may find their match from somewhere else. That’s fine, because that’s what life is all about!

By Pradeep Mathur