Today, at TechThirsty we bring you a big breaking exclusive with an interview of Ashish Agarwal, the Founder of Derma Matrimony.com – world’s only matrimonial platform dedicated to people dealing with skin issues.
Clear, flawless skin is considered to be the most important parameter of judging a person’s beauty. Hence, getting affected with a lifelong skin condition can have severe impact on the overall quality of life. Around 2-4% of the world’s total population is dealing with chronic skin issues and majority of them struggle to find suitable life partners.
We talk to Ashish about how he got the idea for Derma Matrimony and what it takes to break the societal ideas around something like this.
How did you come up with the idea of launching DermaMatrimony.com?
Hailing from Haryana, India I am 33-year-old, ‘single’ resident of New Delhi. Since 2005, I have been suffering from PSORIASIS – a long-lasting autoimmune disease characterized by patches of abnormal skin.
I used to face piercing stares, so much so that I went intro depression. But then everyone has a breakaway point from depression. For me, it came in December 2013 when I decided to take charge of my life and change things for the good. Having worked for more than 6 years, I had enough savings to afford a break for 6 odd months.
With an action plan in my mind to improve my skin health and speech (I used to stutter a bit and that too would invite additional pity), I resigned from my job in Dec 2013. In 2014, to vent out the pity faced at the hands of general public and to make people aware of this ailment, I have been penning about Psoriasis Self Management at my website – www.psoriasisselfmanagement.com.
Late 2014, I began organising meets of those with same skin condition as mine. And my conversations with them, their heart-wrenching tales, the absence of a caring life-partner in their lives,etc made me realise that a match making platform like DermaMatrimony is the need of the hour. People hesitate to marry someone with a skin issue. Thus DermaMatrimony is the need of the hour to make them shun the misconceptions regarding skin ailments like vitiligo, psoriasis etc.
So how did Derma Matrimony take shape?
I am a textile engineering graduate having no software expertise. Thus, I made a blue-print of the website with all the necessary details and approached website development companies as well as individual freelancers. After many failed attempts and delay of 8 months, I finally sealed the deal with a reputed website development firm in Noida at a budget almost 4 times higher than what I had expected in the beginning. We launched the beta version of the website on 23rd February, 2018 for testing purposes and now, the final version of the website is live. Recently, I have hired 2 team members; one is responsible for customer support and the other member is further optimizing the website user interface. The footfall is increasing by the day, so we will be in expansion phase very soon.
Why Derma Matrimony and not something else?
Due to chronic skin conditions, delay in marriage or even general rejections are common in India, where people may be literate, but not mentally educated. Moreover, in the male-dominated society like India, it is far more troublesome for women to find a life-partner, since most of the men, their families need a perfect looking partner. I remember this case of this girl who has PSORIASIS lesion only on her back, still has given up the idea of getting married.
How many people have registered so far at Derma Matrimony?
We have around 459 profiles registered on our website in a very short span without any formal announcement or a marketing campaign. On an average, we are getting 10-12 registrations daily. Our mission is to help create a world where people with chronic skin conditions can get married in a dignified and pleasant manner without making unwanted compromises.
You mean one sufferer weds another through your website? So how will change the lives of the sufferers?
We believe that marrying someone with similar struggle will help get away from the feeling of insecurity or fear of judgement for the whole life so that the person doesn’t need to bother about the ‘skin’ thing anymore and can focus on important personal and professional life goals.
What is the registration fees?
It’s not a pure business venture; being someone with a lifelong skin condition, I am determined to make a positive difference in lives of millions of people of my own community. Thus, for now the website is completely free to register and use. We do have plans to introduce a nominal monthly membership fee at some later stages when we have 1000 or more registered members on the website. That money will help us ensure better customer support, improved product and launch the APP which is faster to access from any part of the world.
DermaMatrimony.com is quite simple to register and use. The step by step process is as below:
1. Register your profile with key personal, professional and family details.
2. Enroll with a verified mobile number.
3. Add a suitable profile picture.
4. Browse matching profiles based on age, height, religion and marital status.
5. Review and change partner preferences whenever you need.
How do you ensure the credibility of the user?
To make Derma Matrimony.com a safe and credible matrimonial platform, we encourage all the users to upload any of their government-approved IDs. Also, the profile picture of every new member is visible on the website only after verification and admin approval. These pictures however can’t be downloaded and watermarked.
Tell us the story of the couple/ the woman who volunteered to feature on the Homepage of the website?
She is Ekta Nahar, the lady who has volunteered to feature on the homepage of DermaMatrimony.com. She has shared how her relatives and neighbors used to traumatize her and her parents with their painful comments like ‘who will marry this poor girl’ or ‘how you are going to get a groom for your daughter.’ You are asking for a single story; I would say that every youngster with a lifelong skin condition has the similar story.
How are you managing funds to run this website for free?
As of now, I have used my savings and provident fund money to launch this project. Also, I have a stable job in my hands with decent monthly income. So, I can easily manage the website running cost as well as the salary of 2 team members for the next 1 year. By that time, I am sure that we will have enough members on the DermaMatrimony.com (the ones who can afford the fees, not all) to introduce the monthly membership plan.
Beyond the app, what is your main target in the next one year?
We aim at atleast 200 successful marriages by the end of 2018. From 2019, we are planning to start offline marriage camps as well, particularly in small towns and cities where people do not have enough exposure to internet. The ultimate motto of DermaMatrimony.com is to reach out to the people even in the rural areas.
So are you trying to find yourself a partner too through DermaMatrimony?
(Ashish laughs) NO, right now my biggest challenge is to streamline this project and ensure best possible user experience to all the members. But, yes, definitely, someday soon, I will find someone interesting with whom I would be lucky enough to spend the rest of my life.
What is your parting message to the skin ailment sufferers as well as the society?
To those who are suffering: Shun the fear and embrace life with open arms. A loving soulmate and a beautiful life awaits you ahead! Go ahead…search, interact and choose a life partner who would make you feel comfortable and desirable!
To the so-called healthy society: We need to understand that most of the chronic skin issues doesn’t affect the physical or mental health of a person. So, there is no need to show discriminating behavior against people with skin conditions. It can even happen to you, you never know!