Shraddha Katuwal and Shreya Katuwal are the founding shareholders of BiheNepal Pvt. Ltd., which launched the BiheNepal App through Rawa Incorporated Pvt. Ltd. (Rawa Software) on February 24, 2022, becoming the first Nepali dating/ matrimonial app to be officially launched in Nepali market. In their exclusive tête-à-tête with ceotab.com, they say the app is a platform to help Nepali singles from all over the globe find a match that will hopefully evolve into partnerships for life. Excerpts:
Tell us a little bit about you and what inspired you to create BiheNepal?
Throughout our childhood and teenage years, we grew up appreciating creative freedom, spending most of our time expressing ourselves through music and literature. Though we both studied practical and logic-oriented technical fields of civil and software engineering, we were inspired to enter these fields for the opportunity of innovation. Now we have chosen entrepreneurship for the same reason, wanting to turn our ideas into reality.
What will be the easiest way to help singles connect to form suitable partnerships? In today’s world, everything is fast-paced and nobody seems to have time. Yet, that does not take away the importance of good committed relationships in people’s lives. Where do the youth in Nepal go to find a date? Picking up people from bars isn’t the norm here. And when it comes to matrimony, arranged marriages have only a limited reach of people in close circles.
This is especially a problem when it comes to Nepali people living abroad when they decide they want to settle down with a Nepali partner. Or, the divorced and widowed singles who are stigmatized to an extent by our society, but are searching for a partner to rely on. We released BiheNepal with the intention of creating a reliable ‘Made in Nepal’ platform to help Nepali singles from all over the globe find a match that will hopefully evolve into partnerships for life.
Can you tell us a little about BiheNepal and what makes it different from other similar apps in the market?
Well, the most famous apps in the international market such as Tinder and Bumble have also been slowly gaining momentum in Nepal. Yet, these apps have a known reputation for promoting the hookup culture, something that is still not culturally accepted in most South Asian nations. Contrary to these apps, BiheNepal as a company strives to promote commitment. Our main platform is free and offers unlimited search, filters, and chat to the users. We hope this allows our users to find the best match possible for themselves. Where matches have traditionally been done purely through family, friends, and lami– based search networks, BiheNepal is helping to shift this search to a wide selection pool online.
Basically, a large selection pool and ease of connecting will help people find their match much more easily. BiheNepal is a homegrown platform, and we have considered many aspects in mind when developing the app; from avoiding features that will promote caste discrimination, to making it equally accessible to the LGBTQ community. It has a super-simple and easy to user interface, so anyone can quickly set up their profiles and begin their search without any fees and without any hassles.
“Befriend. Date. Marry.” What does this tagline mean? People are curious.
Okay, so the Befriend > Date > Marry tagline is actually something we want every potential user to be aware of, as being synonymous to the BiheNepal App. A frequent question we got asked was: “Isn’t Bihenepal a purely matrimonial platform?” As we’ve already mentioned, BiheNepal is an app for people seeking committed partnerships, whether it be a deep friendship, boyfriend/girlfriend type relationship, or a life partner for marriage. When a user creates their profile, they can indicate what they are seeking on this befriend > date > marry spectrum, so their position during the search is cleared out up-front. This can help eliminate many awkward scenarios, such as the situation where one partner wants to take things very slow and the other is in a rush to get married.
What all security measures are in place to make profiles more reliable and help users feel more secure? Some users came across profiles with very few or ambiguous pictures and little personal information. How do you seek to address this issue?
For privacy and security reasons, the first name and personal contact info of our users remain hidden. We have recently released a face-scanner-based photo verification system, to help users be certain that users are uploading their real photos. Verified profiles have two requirements for at least two compulsory photo uploads and 100% completion of profile information, after which they receive a green check mark. We urge everyone to verify their profiles on the app since that will ensure greater reliability. We are also working on more security features, which we will be releasing as time goes on.
Most popular apps have website counterparts. Do you plan on developing the BiheNepal website further to include people who prefer to use websites over mobile apps?
Yes, that is definitely something we are working on and we will release a web app version soon.
Are you confident that you would find a suitable match if you were to use BiheNepal for yourself?
Yes, of course! The BiheNepal userbase has expanded quite rapidly, with users from all over Nepal as well as abroad. There is no doubt that anyone could find a good match among the tens of thousands of users on the platform.
What have you learned through this experience of developing and launching your own app? What’s your big takeaway?
Well, the entire process has been challenging but extremely rewarding. During the initial concept and development stage, most people would laugh at the idea and tell us that it is still not suitable for the Nepali market. We actually began two trial versions of this project over two years ago, it never completed the development stage. There are obvious technical challenges that arise that have to be solved immediately. When we finally completed the development of BiheNepal, every single day would have a new ‘Now What’ scenario pop up. Planning and replanning have become a continual process with a never-ending list of To-Dos. We have to be prepared to play a lot of different roles as the situation demands, which can sometimes be overwhelming. This is a common experience of every startup, but because we get to follow our creative drives, we willingly work through every obstacle that may arise and every problem eventually finds a solution.
Why women should not feel uncomfortable about joining the app?
We want to address this important topic: the comfort of Nepali women with online matchmaking. We receive numerous phone calls from ladies expressing how they are under a lot of family pressure to accept marriage proposals, and how they would rather find someone on their own. We want to clarify as female founders of the app, the intention of Bihenepal is to help provide users with all their possible match options in their own hands.
In a country still known for countless forced marriages, we especially hope to empower young girls and women to have a say in their life decisions. So, we want to encourage females to be more forthright in what they are looking for, and express that through their Bihenepal profiles. The first name is hidden on the app and your personal contact information is never shared, so people cannot directly take the names of your profile and stalk you on other social media pages.
Also, chatting is only possible after you accept somebody’s match request. We recommend chatting over a period of time and getting to know the other individual before exchanging contact information and meeting only in safe public spaces. Also, remember to verify your profiles and request anyone you are talking with to do the same.
Your safety and security are important to us, and we will always be updating even better features to ensure this. Hope this platform can provide a safe place for Nepali singles to meet up and form commitments.