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The Auntie Network

Sep/11/2022 / by Pratika Yashaswi
Radha Patel, The auntie Network

Radha Patel has always been a social butterfly with a great social circle. She’s chatty, vivacious, and has a vitality that brightens any conversation — and that’s perhaps why people are always going to her for things. 

“Even after I was married, uncles and aunties would ask me, ‘Do you know any single people? So and so is looking for his daughter,’” she says. One day, Pate; sat down and draw up a list of all the singles she knew but quickly realized there weren’t enough people to satisfy everybody’s needs and wants. So in 2018, she began her own matchmaking business.

In the South Asian community, often whole families are involved in the marriage of individuals. 

“I’ve realized you can’t cut family out [of the matchmaking process],” Patel says. “Parents would call me like, ‘My daughter’s not listening. She’s not interested. She thinks matchmaking is too scary. I am trying everything.’ I kept hearing the parents say: ‘I’ve done everything. I don’t have any other way to convince her.’”

And that’s when she got thinking: what if she could connect parents and family to the matchmaking process and minimize stress? This led to the Auntie Network, a matrimonial app that brings families into the matchmaking process. Parents (or an auntie or uncle) create a profile and search for matches on behalf of their children. If they like a single, they can directly reach out to the single’s family on the app and set their kids up if there’s a good match. In the world of matrimonials, this is a game-changer, taking the frustration out of the process of finding love.

“I realized that, okay, maybe [the kids] don’t need [to be] involved. Right now, we’re sending biodatas through WhatsApp. You ask your friends, your sister, ‘Do you know any single people?’ How do we [formalize it]?

The app is just over two weeks old as of writing but has already had a positive response among her target audience of fifty-something South Asian parents. SEEMA sat down with Radha to learn more about The Auntie Network, the dating app for desi parents.

Tell us about The Auntie Network. How does it work?

The Auntie Network is a collaborative family matrimonial app. It starts with a parent, uncle, auntie, or just a proxy family member with a vested interest in a single person. They create their profile with their names and photos and then search the network for singles.

The app is just over two weeks old as of writing but has already had a positive response among her target audience of fifty-something South Asian parents. SEEMA sat down with Radha to learn more about The Auntie Network, the dating app for desi parents.
The Auntie Network

So let’s say Radha Auntie finds a single woman she’s interested in for her son. On that page, she can see [both] the single and her proxy’s information and chat with her proxy to see if there is a match.

Simultaneously, if the families want to start with their kids first, the mom and sad can send the profile to their child for discussion on the app. 

“Hey beta, do you like this profile? Do you want me to talk to their family?” So they invite their children to join them, but it is designed for parents to communicate with each other and search for singles on their children’s behalf.

It streamlines the process, and it’s faster; there’s follow-up. Right now, if mom sends you a biodata and she doesn’t see you for three weeks, she doesn’t know if you called the guy? But in the app, she can message you and ask, “Pratika, did you follow up with him? Blah, blah, blah. Auntie’s asking.” So it’s just easier, faster, and it’s just making the overall experience less antagonistic for young singles. It’s allowing parents to feel like they’re involved, which is all they want at the end of the day. They’re not going to force their kids to get married, but they want to feel like they have a say in it.

So children can also make profiles?

Yes, they can if a family member invites them to join. They cannot have an account without a family member attached to them. The parents can function independently of their children but can also work together. The Auntie Network makes it transparent. You can communicate both family to family or within your own family.

This app is specifically for adults looking on behalf of a family member. It’s different when a family member like a parent is involved because they have different motivations, and there’s nothing in the dating app market that allows the family to be involved. We are the only ones that [enable families to talk directly with each other], which is very important for a lot of South Asian families still.

How do you categorize matches? Some families are particular about community, language, etc.

There are fifteen questions a single has to fill out to sign up, and we categorize them by their community. So Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, things like that. But that’s something [we will refine] as we get more user feedback. We only launched about two weeks ago.

Radha Patel, The auntie Network

Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up, and what was your journey to finding a partner?

I grew up in Maryland and worked a corporate job for a while, but I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak, coming from a Gujju family of business owners. So I dabbled in things here and there over the years, but nothing really stuck until I founded my matchmaking business. And that was my passion. It ignited what I was interested in, what I loved doing: meeting people and connecting them.

I met my husband at a matrimonial convention two months after my younger sister’s wedding. She was 23, and I was 25. I didn’t feel like I was late until she got married—because log kya kahenge, and everybody was saying, “Oh, the older sister. Why is she not married?” But two months later, I met my husband, and we both just knew. He proposed to me five months after that. And that’s why I say thank God. I thought it was bad back then, navigating the two cultures and fighting with my parents about what kind of guys I wanted to meet, but it is a hundred times harder now. And knowing I went through some of this, working with so many singles, I’ve understood what’s missing and how to make it better.

Let’s talk a little bit about matchmaking in general. What do you think is the biggest challenge that people South Asians have in finding love?

Well, with matchmaking, I think they come to us and say, “This is exactly what I want,” and you’ll see it on the apps too — they want this exact height and sub-community and this exact whatever. And then they get no results, or they get something like three results, and then they get frustrated because it’s the same three people they see everywhere, the same three singles.

And then, I think the biggest challenge to finding love is that technology has made it so prescriptive. Like if you’re not on the apps, and if you’re not doing all of the avenues, you’re never going to find anybody. The pressure is way greater now; the visibility about being single is greater now than it was 10 or 20 years ago when I was looking to get married.

What would be your advice to people looking for love today?

My advice to all my matchmaking clients is, yeah, you got to be on the apps just because everybody’s like, “You got to get out in the world.” I know COVID made it hard, but the more you indulge your interests, and you’re excited about the things you’re doing in the world, [the more] you’re going to track that energy, and that’s where you’re going to find your partner.

Want to join The Auntie Network? Sign up directly at www.TheAuntieNetwork.com and get started today with a 30-day free premium subscription.

Seema

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