Ignighter Finds Love Abroad

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

In 2008, three guys in Manhattan started Ignighter.com, a dating site with a twist:

They sought to set themselves apart by enabling members to set up group dates: One member, serving as a point person, could arrange a date — a movie, say, or a picnic in Central Park — with a group of other people and thereby take some of the awkward edge off of typical dates.

By the end of the year, they had 50,000 registered users in the United States — not that many.  But they soon found love abroad:

“In January 2010, we made the decision that we are an Indian dating site,” Mr. Sachs says. And now, with almost two million users — and 7,000 more signing up daily — Ignighter is considered India’s fastest-growing dating Web site.

To put it another way, it gets as many users in a week in India as it did in a year in the United States. Next month, Ignighter will open an office in India and hire a dozen local employees. The company has stopped developing its American site, though it remains online.

As funding heats up for Web start-ups in general, some investors have taken notice of Ignighter and its potential in India. This month, the company closed a $3 million round of financing. Forty percent of its investors are based in India, including Rajan Anandan, Google’s top executive in India. In the United States, Ignighter is backed by Point Judith Capital, Founder Collective and GSA Venture Partners, among others.

“Here we are, a few Jewish guys sitting in Union Square, and we might have accidentally revolutionized the dating scene in India,” Mr. Sachs says of himself and Mr. Osit. They and Mr. Owocki, who is charge of Web development and programming for Ignighter, have never been to India — though they now plan to make frequent trips there.

Tech-savvy Indians probably read about the site on tech blogs, and it spread from there:

From there, it grew in part because dating in India is still in a somewhat embryonic stage. It happens in big cities like Mumbai and Hyderabad, but in many less cosmopolitan parts of India it’s still considered taboo for unmarried men and women to be seen in public together. Many couples, as they have for centuries, meet through arranged marriages that their relatives orchestrate.

But for some in this generation — those raised on a diet of MTV and social networks — there’s a desire to find new dating scripts, or just to hang out with a coed group.

The group dynamic also makes going out an easier sell to parents, who are worried about safety and propriety.

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