Los Angeles Business Journal

Mobile Dating-App Maker Scores With Asian Markets

INTERNET: Plan A Drink sees Westernizing India as ripe for wooing. By Adam Popescu Monday, July 9, 2012

Since Israel and Serago couldn’t code, Marks put them in touch with Hongyi Yao, now the chief technology officer. Thirty days later, the trio had a working iPhone app.

Marks said what attracted him to Plan A Drink was the co-founders’ youth and the mobile version of online dating. Marks, who has worked in India as founder of mobile communications firm eMind, believes that country’s burgeoning use of mobile phones could make it a big market for Plan A Drink.

“Dating through your phone is a great idea,” he said.

India has 1.2 billion people and is one of the fastest growing smartphone markets worldwide.

Socially acceptable

Israel, who was born in New Jersey, thinks his service gives Indian youths an outlet to date in a socially acceptable way.

Karthik Manimaran, co-founder of Sunnyvale’s WeLink, a social data site for apps, disagrees. He was born in India and came to the United States 10 years ago. He said that Plan A Drink’s premise is so un-Indian that it will have hard time breaking through there.

“The concept of dating itself is not allowed in India,” he said. “It might be picked up in large cities, but there’s a social taboo of saying I’ve been on a date. In India, even if you do it, you don’t say it.”

But Vivek Desai, a freelance social media marketer in Westwood who was raised in Northern California by his Indian parents and frequently traveled to India while he was growing up, said dating is gaining acceptance in India as the culture becomes more Westernized.

“It’s possible it will be very popular,” Desai said. “I think it’s an interesting pivot because the culture in India is changing from more traditional to Western.”

Plan A Drink’s Serago thinks his company is on the right track.

“Imagine being the Match.com of India,” he asked. “Five or six years ago there was no mobile dating. No one even thought of that.”

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