Popular Chinese dating app Tantan is all set for a full-fledged launch in India in August this year. Tantan, which is most comparable to US-based dating app Tinder, created a niche for itself in the Chinese market within three years of launch in 2015. The company claims to have made seven billion matches, in comparison to Match Group’s Tinder which reportedly made eight billion matches since its launch in 2012.
Tantan, which had attracted investments from Nasdaq-listed live-streaming platform YY Inc., Genesis Capital, and SAIF Partners among others, was acquired by Momo in a cash and stock deal worth nearly USD 800 million in February this year. After Momo made a successful pivot to live streaming, the company’s revenue jumped fourfold within a year. About 68% of its annual revenue (USD 328 million in Q1 2018) came from the live-streaming business. Momo will try to leverage its acquisition by combining its offering to its users.
For now, Tantan will remain a separate stand-alone app, although it's likely that Momo will eventually introduce cross-app features. The product has in-app purchases on iOS for its range of services at a cost of USD 1 to USD 15.
In an exclusive telephonic interview, 23-year-old Tantan’s marketing manager (Asia-Pacific), Rahul Maheshwari speaks to Prabhu Mallikarjunan about the company’s India plans.
How is your journey with Tantan?
I have been working in the online dating space for quite some time. I started with south-asian dating app called Dus back in 2016, which eventually got acquired by Woo. And after that, I was working with another dating group named DateTix (now called Love Group) based in Hong Kong and UK, where I helped them launch in India and overseas. And after a short break, I am now with Tantan since January.
What are Tantan’s plans for India?
We did a soft launch in June, and we plan to pursue Indian market aggressively. The soft launch has provided us with a runway to build further on. Our journey so far has reaped promising results for us, as young people in India are increasingly looking for outlets (like ours). Having said that, there is no doubt that this is a competitive space. We are trying to offer a unique proposition: Tantan's focus is directed towards building a community, where we control the use of fake pictures, spammers, and every sort of harassment, with the use of technology and manual filtering.
Other dating apps have become loaded with a lot of fake profiles; this is one thing we have remedied and you can sense a higher level of trust with our app. In terms of results, we are witnessing a good retention, here in India.
How many people have signed up so far and what are the projections for 2019?
We cannot disclose the exact figures but as long as we keep the daily active user (DAU) growth going up, we have an open budget for the Indian market.
How is the dating app market in India different from China?
To be frank, the two nations have posed similar challenges. In both the countries, the socio-cultural setup is similar. For instance, women in India were not very keen on signing on dating apps in the initial days, but now it is sort of becoming cooler. It is the same case in China as well. There are social apprehensions around dating. Nevertheless, there has been a spurt in female users getting on the app.
Moreover, between the two countries, language plays a pivotal role. Indian users tend to prefer using the app in English, whereas Chinese users prefer using the app in Chinese. Our app is available only in English and not in a local language, unlike in China. I don’t think we need to offer the service in a regional language, as of now.
What is the unique placement that Tantan is making in India?
We are a young company committed to serving the youth. We aim to make the women comfortable with the idea of going out on dates. We are driven towards keeping a balanced sex ratio and have consistently maintained a healthy 6:4 ratio for men: women. We look into the quality of users and keep the environment safe and secure enabling healthy conversations.
What are people’s expectations from Tantan?
We have witnessed that Indian singles are now looking forward to meeting more singles on a public platform like Tantan. The mindset has moved beyond mere hook-ups, where people are open to go with the flow. Tantan has enabled more than 7 billion matches till date.
How will you monetise?
The VIP services are currently available on iOS and soon coming out for Android, though it’s not our immediate focus.
How much investment will go into India over the next two years?
India is a high growth market for us. As long as the daily active user growth keeps growing, we have an open budget for this market. We are looking to expand the user-base in tier 1 cities as well as in tier 2.
Are you open for acquisitions?
We are a data-driven company. A couple of startups have reached out to us. But their metrics were not so fulfilling. We are open to opportunities that are mutually beneficial for the parties involved.