Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dating and wedding logistics: an OR opportunity area? is yet another online dating portal start-up by a bunch of young New Yorkers. However, this one is a bit more interesting from the OR perspective. It specifically targets 'group dating' noting that "meeting someone one-on-one is more awkward than a junior high dance" and also acts as a 'dating logistics' enabler. They also do 'group profile' matching. One gets the feeling that there's bound to be some OR methods applicable here to improve upon this original idea.

However, the most interesting aspect of this startup was that it was not very successful in igniting the NYC scene, but within a few months, their biggest customer segment came from India, much to their surprise. Why? pulling off one-one meeting coups in India generally tend to be even more daunting. Plus the fact that Indians love novelty while also holding on to the time-tested. As we noted a couple of weeks ago, traditional weddings in India makes up a huge fraction of the weddings in world at any point in time (H-hour, the most auspicious time for the final ritual, occurs at night for North Indian weddings, and during the day in the South :). This makes an upwardly mobile and economically liberalized India an irresistible growth market for practically anything new, from stealth jets to instant Mehendi/Henna, and of course, novel online dating services. To back up this claim, we go back to our tried and tested indicator - Indian movies. Yes, we have a new B'wood movie around the dating/movie logistics theme. In fact, this one is a pretty decent and successful yarn about an pair of entrepreneurs who make it big scoring contracts for the scheduling, synchronizing, and sequencing of the various events in an Indian wedding, which are among the most elaborate, yet intricate, in the world. The complexity and the number of hard and soft constraints that have to be satisfied here is likely to be challenging. Seems like a great niche O.R. opportunity area.

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