Online dating sites and apps are the new cool today. Go Gaga is one of these dating apps but different in the way that the app has ‘friends of friends’ in the profiles listed. According to them, with your close friends making an introduction, dating becomes trustworthy. We spoke to its co-founder Neha Kanodia at the Digital Women Awards 2019, about how did this unique idea strike her mind. Here’s what she says:

How did this big idea strike you?

While looking for a potential bride for my brother, I noticed that my father was swiping left and right on arranged matrimonial apps while my brother was swiping on online dating apps for people in his vicinity. Currently, youngsters have an option to either find someone through arranged matrimonial alliances where parents are the key decision-makers or try to find their partner through vicinity-based dating apps. Given the cultural evolution, the two options are at extreme ends with neither presenting a particularly attractive and stable option. Both solutions have a problem of authenticity of data on profile, match-relevance and cultural misfit with meeting strangers. Indian society is in dire need of a culturally compatible dating/relationship product. Based on our conversations with our prospective users, we realised that trust is the most crucial aspect before forming a relationship. Hence, we replicated the most common offline way of meeting people, online.

How has the tech been an enabler in your entrepreneurship journey?

Go Gaga is a tech start-up with apps available to download both on Android and iOS. App technology helps us reach our customers in not just Tier 1 but also Tier 2 and 3 cities. As digitisation and urbanisation is increasing, the number of people aware of newer products and solutions has definitely increased. If not for Google and Facebook providing online platforms to display ads for people to become aware of various start-ups’ and solutions to everyday problems people are building, it would have been very difficult to reach out to masses and convey the advantages of our safe and trustworthy solution for finding relationships. Currently, our customers are spread pan-India. Being a tech product, this is an advantage that hyper-local products do not get. With tech implementation, it has been possible for Go Gaga to introduce a trustworthy solution of asking friends for referrals which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

At the start you land up doing most work yourself, which is an opportunity to learn many skills. Start-ups are not easy and takes lots of time and energy. It takes time, be prepared to be very patient and positive.

At any point in your journey were you stuck with self-doubt?  

I had 12+ years of working as a tech lead for Oracle, SoftwareAG and Goldman Sachs before I decided to start Go Gaga. Creating/coding something completely from scratch was not easy. I had no experience of creating an app. All the technologies I decided to use were new for me. It was lots of learning and a lot of work to do all alone. I was not very confident initially, but definitely wanted to start. I was very motivated and had wanted to create something completely on my own for a long time. This determination, positive attitude and strong will to continue even in low times helped me overcome these situations. Needless to mention, my love for tech and support from my family has kept me going.

What have been your greatest challenges and struggles in your entrepreneurship journey?

It has been overwhelming to manage tech for Android and iOS both on my own for a fast-growing B2C product like Go Gaga. Spending quality time with my child has been always my priority. Trying to maintain that with Go Gaga’s tasks has been challenging. Being a bootstrapped start-up, we work with few interns from college. They keep having exams and come in mostly for just two months. Hence, we are almost hiring all the time and it is challenging to recruit, teach and manage them. As a matter of fact, running a bootstrapped B2C start-up itself is a challenge.

As a woman entrepreneur would you say you have faced discrimination in your journey? 

I am the developer of Go Gaga and my co-founder Meet is an Electrical Engineer from IIT-Delhi. Meet takes care of the product side, given his Investment Banking background and is not a techie. Funny incidence but quite many times, when we go for meetings and introduce ourselves, people assume that he is the techie behind GoGaga, and I would be handling business. When we disclose the fact, they are mostly surprised because very few female techies choose entrepreneurship, leave apart being a techie mompreneur.

What do you think women entrepreneurs need more of, from venture capitalists, government policymakers, start-up support programs, and others? 

Off-course, more women venture capitalists are required to understand the problems and solutions which are women-centric. I always wish government and organisations, in general, should make it easy for returning mothers, especially in the early days of child care. Companies can start by making creche facilities available and keeping a flexible work schedule. Even incubators and accelerators should provision for this, encouraging women entrepreneurs. Seven states are currently incentivising women entrepreneurship with funds and monthly allowances, if more states come forward in supporting this initiative of the government, we would start observing a difference.

What would you say have been your greatest learning on this entrepreneurial journey? 

I have also grown as a person while building GoGaga. Working in a team in corporate vs. building a product alone are very different. Only thing which has helped me in this tough journey is my perseverance and positive attitude. One of the biggest learning from GoGaga is only the customer decides if the product is good for them or not. Hence, doing various experiments in the product and asking customer feedback is the key to building a great product.

It has been overwhelming to manage tech for Android and iOS both on my own for a fast-growing B2C product like Go Gaga. Spending quality time with my child has been always my priority. Trying to maintain that with Go Gaga’s tasks has been challenging.

What advice would you share with other women looking to become entrepreneurs? 

First and foremost, just take the plunge and start. Pros: At the start you land up doing most work yourself, which is an opportunity to learn many skills. Cons: Start-ups are not easy and takes lots of time and energy. It takes time, be prepared to be very patient and positive.

Tips:

  • Make sure your finances are sorted before you start, you need money to run most start-ups’.
  • Always believe in yourself, there would be many low times, just don’t give up.
  • Most girls in India are raised to be perfect and are expected to be superhumans. Do not stress yourselves with becoming one.
  • Learn to say ‘No’ to what you cannot do or ask for family and friends to help.
  • Always delegate chores which can definitely be done without your attention, especially at home.
  • Keep your family’s expectations right, tell them when you are tired or busy.
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