Anita Dharamshi is the co-founder of TwoMangoes.com, the hottest new dating site for South Asians across the globe. Set to change the way like-minded young professionals connect, 33-year-old Dharamshi describes TwoMangoes.com as Facebook.com meets Match.com with a South Asian twist.
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
TwoMangoes.com is the hottest new dating site for South Asian’s across the globe. Think of us as Facebook.com meets Match.com with a South Asian twist!
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
We had many friends who were single, including one of our co-founders, and very frustrated with the lack of solutions available out there catering to the South Asian demographic. When a friend of mine went through the 3 hour ‘exam’ which is required for eHarmony.com (one of the mainstream sites) and was presented with a whopping 2 matches, she was extremely discouraged and disappointed.
Further to this, one of my co-founders father started taking pictures of him to put up on a matrimonial site as it was ‘time for him to get married’. After seeing what these sites were offering in terms of a user experience (and what they were charging for this sub-par experience), we collectively decided that there was a huge unmet need in the market and hence TwoMangoes.com was born!
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do on a day-to-day basis is in a nutshell, EVERYTHING! As a co-founder of a startup business like TwoMangoes.com, I am involved in pretty much every aspect of the business – from business strategy to partnerships to marketing to financial planning and management to running events to even testing out new features of the site! Although the marketing part of the business is what I love most, I love the fact that every single day is different and brings new challenges. The most challenging part? Focus. When you’re involved in so many different aspects of the business, its sometimes hard to focus on one thing at a time and do it really well as your mind wanders to other things that need to be done.
Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
The joke amongst our team is ‘World Domination’. In all seriousness, we hope to be the #1 dating site for South Asians across the globe.
What does success look like to you?
When people come up to us and tell us they are on TwoMangoes.com and have met someone through the site that’s success. Or, even better, when we overhear people talking about how great the site is (without them knowing we’re listening of course) and that they’ve met someone thru it. There is no greater satisfaction then to come across users or members that tell us that they love TwoMangoes and so grateful that we launched the site. If you look at our Testimonials page, you’ll quickly get a sense of how much people love the site and the entire experience.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
That’s a tough one so i’ll give you 2 to pick from.
In Summer 2011, we entered a business competition that was hosted in the Valley (Silicon Valley) through SonyTV called AndaazIMPACT where they were looking for new startups and companies that were looking to make an impact in peoples lives. We had no idea where it would go, but figured it would be fun to enter and try our luck. To our surprise, we won the most number of votes through their online voting system and were then invited to pitch our idea on live television to top VC’s including Tim Draper (of Draper Fisher Jurvetson) and Sanjay Subhedar of Storm Ventures. These were people who had invested in top companies such as Skype and Hotmail so just the opportunity to present in front of these individuals was an honor in itself. We were up against some very tough competition and much to our shock and surprise, we ended up winning the competition! That moment is one that I will never forget – cracking open a bottle of champagne with Mr.Tim Draper and receiving a handshake saying ‘great work’!
The 2nd story: When we launched the site in India recently. We were quite nervous about what the response would be and whether people would embrace the concept of dating, etc in a culture that is relatively more conservative in this area as compared to the western world. But when we saw literally 1000’s of people signing up each day it was truly the most amazing and memorable experience for us to see our numbers climb higher than they ever had. We received so much great feedback from users via emails, social media (facebook and twitter) saying how amazing our site was and how they’re so thankful that we had come up with such a site. Within a few short weeks we’ve been featured in many of the top news publications in India talking about our site.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Passion and perseverance are the key. Especially when you’re running your own business you really have to believe in what you’re doing and be passionate about what you’re doing. The moment you lose that passion is the moment you need to ask yourself why you’re doing this. Perseverance is extremely important as well. Life as an entrepreneur is FULL of challenges and roadblocks from people questioning your idea to your competitors in the market to finding that optimal work/life balance. But you can’t ever give up. You just have to keep marching ahead knowing that you believe in what you’re doing. And finally, don’t forget to have fun. So you make a few less dollars or win a few less deals, life is too short for regrets so it’s important no matter what you’re doing to enjoy the journey as much as the destination and spare some time for pit stops along the way.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Although we’ve been involved with a variety of events which support many different types of charities, one thing that is very near and dear to us is the arts, specifically theatre and film. We really believe that the arts can teach us so many things about life and ourselves and we find any way to encourage young artists, directors and producers to work their magic on the stage and screen by helping in anyway we can!
What is Notable to you?
Notable is being able to look yourself in the mirror everyday and be comfortable, confident, and happy with the person that’s looking back at you. That includes not engaging in any negative or unethical behaviour and realizing that you don’t need to step on others in order to make your way to the top – the journey to the top isn’t as much a ladder as it is a steep hill.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Haha, depends on who you ask on the team. For me, it’s Blackberry. Although the photo/video capabilities of iPhone are slowly trying to woo me over.
How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Attitude. It’s important no matter what life throws at you to approach it with the right attitude. As long as your outlook on life is a positive one, it’s easy to keep active, energetic and vibrant. I also try and surround myself with the right people – whether it be friends, colleagues or family – who will help me to remain happy and sane, especially on those really crazy days!