As I travel back home….
I can see a Blind World around me,
Judging everyone around them…
With brains shut and eyes closed.
But, one woman decided to change the way we look at the differently-abled in the society.
Meet Kalyani Khona, the co-founder of INCLOV, world’s first matchmaking mobile app designed inclusively to help people with disabilities and health disorders find a life partner. Isn’t it an amazing use of technology? Thus we at TechThirsty decided to quench our thirst of bringing you the best in the world of technology. In a candid chat with Kalyani, we find out what gave birth to this app and how its special users are benefitting from it.
So I start by letting her explain INCLOV in her own words and the reason behind why it is not just another app but her life’s calling?
Kalyani Khona: Inclov stands for “Inclusive Love” and it is for everyone who wants to find love differently. I was disheartened by the general attitude of people on matrimonial portals and generally in society towards those with physical impairment or disability and I kept questioning what exactly would the limitations be? What is stopping people with disabilities from finding a life partner (considering 42% of them never marry). To my surprise, the answer was our misconceptions, inhibitions and stereotypes that their mere survival was enough and that they need no more. It was painful for me to see them isolated due to societal taboos and hence I had a humble beginning with an offline matchmaking agency, which was called Wanted Umbrella. In 2016, we then pivoted to a crowd-funded mobile app called Inclov.
The online solution is complemented with an offline platform, which we call Social Spaces. Social Spaces brings together people with or without disabilities to meet in person. These meetups are organized at curated, inclusive locations across India. We’ve done 40+ meetups in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Hyderabad etc.
I’ve always believed love is for everyone and in the matters of the heart, there are no limitations.
How is INCLOV different from the usual match-making websites?
Kalyani: The Android version was launched in 2016 while the iOS version came in 2017. INCLOV is a platform to match the intent of the user as well. So if you select that your purpose of using the app is to find a date, we show you profiles of people who are here to date. The same goes for friendship and matrimony for all the singles.
Crowd-funded in 2015 by 130 global backers, Inclov today has 30,000 monthly active users and 7000+ matches across 300 cities in India. The tech platform matches users on the basis of preferences like age, location, level of independence, cure, instruments and aid use, level of mobility and percentage of disability. There is a strict 24-hour review process whenever a new user signs up. This ensures that our users see high quality profiles, hence making the quality of matches better and conversion to prospective alliances faster.
What are the various categories of disabilities that INCLOV deals with to connect people?
Kalyani: Right from someone with visual or orthopedic impairment (physical disability) to someone with down syndrome (intellectual disability), Inclov is trying to cater to people with all kinds of special needs.
Please detail all the technology-related salient features of this App.
Kalyani: Let me details them one by one.
New matchmaking algorithm (moving from the database format): Limitation in profiles instead of the database format. Profiles will be matched on the preference input (% of disability etc). E.G If you know sign language, we show you profiles of people with hearing impairment first. Or if you are visually impaired, we avoid profiles with hearing impairment because they communicate by writing or sign language both of which are not accessible to people with visual impairment and so forth
Interest: Don’t want to send request? Show you are interested in their profiles and if they are interested in you too, go ahead send request to ensure higher chances of getting matched. This way you end up with fewer profiles but more responsive ones.
Connections: View all your connections and requests sent in one place
New Layout: Introducing discover people tab, a fun way to find more people. Chat is now smoother, more fluid and easy to navigate
Multiple Images: Option to upload and view multiple images
Additional Information: Hobbies, employment and lifestyle information now available
Segregation of profiles in Tier 1-2-3-4 depending on the completion of profile and information shared with Inclov
How many couples so far have benefited from Inclov?
Kalyani: Having believed that Inclov caters to an audience whose intention is not only marriage but to find like minded friends, dates or companion, we don’t keep track of marriages especially since the tech platform makes it difficult for us to keep tab of users after they’ve matched on the app but so far we have 7000+ connections on the app and many have successfully converted into marriage.
Is INCLOV still running on crowd-funding or does it have a business model?
Kalyani: Inclov is a for-profit, revenue-making company. Our business model has premium services like nightlife meetups and Inclov Select (our personalized matrimonial service) that generate revenue for Inclov. Both our mobile applications are free.
What next after the APP?
Kalyani: We are planning to launch Inclov Web this year
How do you plan to reach those disabled people who are illiterate but deserve the reach of this effort, deserve a spouse?
Kalyani: We have started a workshop model in partnership with various NGOs across India to facilitate outreach to those who are not active on mobile.
Where do you see this project in five years from now?
Kalyani: Inclov will be a global inclusive platform for people with special needs to find love.
Clearly, technology has enabled many people to take a step forward. However, it comes with its own set of challenges regarding security. Kalyani and team have taken steps to ensure two more things, which are listed on the website are as below:
Safety: INCLOV curates profile through a review process, mobile verification as well as through an in-chat feature. Thus, you don’t have to disclose personal contact details. That’s the way INCLOV deals off with fake profiles, spammers etc to protect your privacy
No screenshots: INCLOV further ensures that no screenshots are taken (by disabling the feature). You cannot exchange images on the app to avoid cyber crime and bullying.
And Kalyani tells me lots more is coming up by April 2018. So stay tuned to TechThirsty for more. And if you have any query, do leave us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or put down your thoughts in the comments column or tweet to us @TechThirsty.