Evelyn Waugh? Lost or West Wing?
“I met my husband online seven years ago on something called indianfriendfinder.com and I was kinda ashamed of being on it,” says founder Shweta Sharma, who chucked up a job in advertising to launch Ditto.co.in. “Most of these sites reduce you to a uni-dimensional figure. I was Shweta Sharma, dark-skinned, curly-haired Brahmin. But that’s not what defines me, those are things I’m born with.” Instead, Sharma figured some single people were looking to meet others based on say, their shared proclivity for mountain climbing. Indeed apart from entering your age and two photographs of yourself, the website bears little resemblance to more marriage-focused sites that require details of your sun and moon chart.
After entering your preferences across 24 categories (such as your favourite Hollywood movies, political idealogy, spiritual beliefs, etc.) users have the ability to fine-tune whether they want an “overall match” that matches a large number of categories or a “niche match” that pairs you with someone who, for example, only shares with you a passion for amateur bird watching. The Ditto algorithm will then throw up several options based on whether you like conversations that lead to “fun times”, “wherever it’s meant to go” or “a meaningful relationship”. After that, it’s up to you to reach out and get in touch with the person (unlike other sites you can only browse through the matches suggested and not through the entire database). Sharma and her team weed out profiles they think are fake (you have to use your real name) or dodgy (like the person who uploaded a photo of Emraan Hashmi as their profile picture).
“It’s about finding someone you love in a relaxed, casual way,” says Sharma. “Not casual in the wrong sense, but rather without the pressure of the happily-ever-after story screaming in your face.” Nifty illustrations subvert the generally cheesy feel of dating sites, making Ditto somewhat more relaxed in intent and feel. A helpful video tutorial on the homepage takes you through the steps, but most of it is self-explanatory. Another reason to sign up sooner rather than later? For now, registration is free, though Sharma says they’ll soon put up a subscription paywall.