A UK-based dating app for Muslims is targeting “global domination” after building an audience in 190 countries.
Muzmatch was launched in 2015 by founders Shahzad Younas, now 33, and Ryan Brodie, 24, with the aim of creating an app to solve problems faced by young Muslims trying to find their lifelong partner.
Self-taught former computer science student Younas, now 33, says that navigating the realms of family, culture, tradition and religious considerations are often overlooked on other dating apps.
Headquartered in East London with an additional team in Bangladesh, the app now boasts more than 500,000 members and has facilitated marriages in 112 countries. There are plans to release it in twelve new languages.
“I’m a Muslim and so are a lot my friends so I understand the dynamic. Everyone talked about how difficult it was to find a partner. It was a very common problem,” Younas told BusinessCloud. “It was a real no-brainer to launch the app.
“We refer our plans for the next twelve months as ‘global domination’. In the Western market, including the US, UK and Canada, we’re already the biggest player.
“Now, it’s time to bed-in to different regions internationally.”
£1.5m seed funding round
Last year Muzmatch spent four months in the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator in San Francisco which has helped the likes of Airbnb and Dropbox become market leaders. Brodie has said that Y Combinator has “an incredible track record” and that it gave them the “ammo and belief” they needed to succeed.
Y Combinator was joined by New York-based investor FJ Labs and London-based company builder Hambro Perks in a £1.5m seed funding round earlier this year. Muzmatch has since added 150,000 new members on its platform.
However the market seems limitless: Younas estimates that there are two billion Muslims around the world and that 300-400m of them are single and looking to marry.
“It’s not just Muslims in western countries, in Muslims in Muslim countries,” he said. “These changes and shifts in attitude are happening just as much in those countries as it is here.
“Our users travel to different countries to get married. We had one person in Indonesia who married someone from the Netherlands, and another user from India marrying someone from Saudi. The last one was Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“The point of the funding round was to accelerate our growth – to start putting a budget behind marketing and own the market.”
The app was launched in April 2015 and quickly gained traction across the globe. The first iteration managed to gain 50,000 sign-ups in its first year, with around 90 per cent coming through word-of-mouth.
“For version two of the app we tried to widen its appeal and make a more cohesive product,” said Brodie.
“In our minds, this wasn’t a throw-away business – it was a very serious thing.
“There are areas in the app, which we designed together, to try and help facilitate people meeting.”
Built for the global community
Brodie believes that the success of the app is in part due to Younas’ deep understanding of the issue.
“From day one we’ve been very mindful of feedback from the community and respecting what they think and what they need,” said Brodie.
“We’ve built a platform with a wide set of features and depending on your level religiosity, you can shape the matches for you.”
The pair says that 15,000 people around the world have found their partner on the app and 60 people per day get in touch with them to tell them a story of success.
When signing up, the app asks for the user’s age, location, profession, education. It then asks for specifics, such as the level of religiosity – which can be specified with a slider – and how many times a day they pray.
“It’s intentionally subjective,” said Younas. “It gives you a rough guide of how someone else self-identifies.
“There are so many different cultures within the Muslim world including Arab, Pakistani and Indian. They are quite different, and many people want to search along those lines.”
A dating app hoping to marry off its paying user-base might not seem like good business, but the co-founders find that happy couples are the best PR.
“A Muslim wedding happens very quickly after the engagement, between three and six months,” explained Brodie.
“What we find is that at the wedding, it’s an incredible PR vehicle for us because everyone knows that the happy couple met on Muzmatch.
“These are big weddings – with six hundred people – so it works great.”