BiheNepal, a tech support to help you find a soulmateThe app has been downloaded more than 80,000 times from Google Play Store and App Store, according to the co-founders.
Shreya Katwal was in her final year at Nepal College of Information Technology in 2019, and she was looking for ideas for her software engineering project when her mother suggested she create a matrimonial website or mobile app.
Katwal did not consider her mother's advice seriously in the beginning, but eventually it looked like something worth doing. So she made a matrimonial website for her college project.
She graduated, got a job, and forgot about the website for the next two years.
During this time, Shreya’s elder sister Shraddha, who is a civil engineer, was running Rawa Incorporated, a construction and design firm.
The Katwal sisters decided to bring the matrimony website Shreya had made for her college project out of deep storage, and develop it into a mobile application and launch it.
They had initially planned to outsource the project’s development, but they put aside their jobs and immersed themselves in developing the matrimonial app last May.
In February 2022, BiheNepal was launched.
The app has been downloaded more than 80,000 times from Google Play Store and App Store, according to the co-founder sisters. “The app has more than 50,000 active users,” they say.
After installing BiheNepal, users are provided with three options to set their priority while setting up their profile. One can choose to look for friends, dating partner or marriage partner.
The app displays only the user's surname and first initial.
“We have designed it in this way to maintain privacy,” said Shreya. “Displaying the full name would enable users to search for the person on various social media platforms which can be annoying to many users.”
The app also shows the user's age, gender and address. Besides the basic information, users can also update their educational and occupational details, hobbies, marital status, religion, food preferences, height and who they are living with currently.
There is also an option for users to update their gotra, which in the Hindu tradition is considered to be equivalent to lineage.
Hindus practice gotra exogamy, especially in arranged marriages.
Though it is not compulsory for users to upload their photos, Shraddha said they were considering making a profile picture obligatory to prevent fake profiles.
“Most of the complaints and feedback we have received are related to the interface and fake profiles,” said Shraddha. “We have been working on addressing these issues. Regarding fake profiles, we are going to make users upload their profile pictures soon.”
While the standard usage of the app is free, there is also a for-pay VIP Club scheme.
“When we launched our product in February, it was still a minimum viable product,” said Shreya. “Since then, the app has gone through a series of upgrades.”
VIP Club and Black Card are the recent features of the application.
Subscription to VIP Club allows verified users to remain anonymous to standard users, use a VIP badge in their profile when adding standard users, and gain access to in-person and online meet-ups to find a match.
The subscription fee for VIP Club is Rs10,000 for six months and Rs15,000 for one year.
“However, under the current scheme, any user subscribing to the six-month package can get an extra three months subscription for free,” said Shreya.
Around 50 users have taken VIP Club membership, according to Shreya.
“Members of VIP Club also get a free subscription to BiheNepal Black Card, which can be used to unlock various gifts and discounts at many partner businesses of BiheNepal,” said Shraddha.
The subscription fee for Black Card for standard users is Rs199 for one month and Rs999 for six months.
Though the number of male users in dating and matrimony apps exceeds that of women, Shradda said more young women had started using such apps in recent days.
“BiheNepal gives women the freedom to search and find a partner, especially in a society like ours where a match is generally determined by family members and relatives,” Shraddha said. “It can prevent forced arranged marriages which still occur in large numbers.”
The co-founders were anxious about getting negative feedback prior to the launch of their app, but they are happy with what they have achieved so far.
“The comments and feedback we have received have been constructive,” said Shreya. “And people have found marriage partners through our app.”
One of the major challenges for Nepali start-ups is competition with international products, according to Shraddha.
“On the one hand, there are difficulties for Nepali start-ups to gain a footing, on the other hand, there is always the possibility of their being overshadowed by well-established foreign businesses,” said Shraddha. “We faced difficulties in the initial phase to penetrate the market.”
The co-founders claim BiheNepal is more suited to Nepali society in comparison to its competitors in the market.
“While the focus of most dating apps is limited to dating, our app provides a platform to find a partner for a long-term commitment,” said Shreya.
The app has recently added community features.
“We have regularly upgraded the app to improve the interface and address other issues as per the feedback of users,” said Shreya.
BiheNepal has been selected among the top five finalists under the Product category for this year’s ICT Awards.
The final event of the seventh edition of the awards, organised by Living with ICT, a tech-related magazine, will be held on December 23.