In April, University of Pennsylvania hosted the 15th annual Wharton India Economic Forum, an elite conference on growth opportunities in India. Among the attendees, who were predominately of Indian descent, was Adam Sachs, a 28-year-old Jewish kid from New Jersey. As it turns out, Sachs' two-year-old start-up, a group dating website called Ignighter.com, is one of the hottest new websites in India.
Soon after that meeting, Sachs set out on a mission to explore Ignighter's most promising demographic. "Dating is still taboo [in India]," says Sachs. "It's still a conservative culture. But being able to tell your parents 'I'm just going out with friends,' and still be able to meet new people is the right solution."
Out of the site's two million users, over 1.6 million live in India. In March, Sachs traveled to India for a month to set up the company's new offices in Delhi. A Mumbai office is on the way. Osit and Owock also plan to spend time in India in the coming months.
In February, Ignighter closed a $3 million Series A round of funding led by Point Judith Capital, a Rhode Island-based venture capital firm. Other investors include Founder Collective, GSA Ventures Partners, and a venture firm called GTI, which stands for "Gateway To India." Through a combination of subscriptions and ad revenue, the company brought in about $500,00 in 2010, and Sachs expects to nearly double that figure in 2011.
Ignighter now employees eight full-time employees, all of whom have focused their efforts on overseas expansion. Sachs spends his days consulting with marketing and branding experts who are familiar with Indian culture. Rajan Anandan, head of Google India, for example, serves as an advisor to the company, helping the founders navigate the Indian cultural—and business—landscape.
Sachs has pretty much given up on promoting Ignighter in the United States in favor of Asia. But the decision comes with mixed emotion.
"Even before the U.S., we're focused on Japan and South Korea," he says. "It's funny to say, but it is a little bit sad that your site isn't focused in your backyard. But for us, the real excitement is for us to conquer Asia."