BiheNepal, a technical support to help you find a soulmate
Shreya Katwal was in her final year at Nepal College of Information Technology in 2019, and she was looking for ideas for her software development project when her mother suggested she create a matrimonial website or mobile app.
Katwal didn’t take her mother’s advice seriously at first, but eventually it looked like something worth doing. So she created a matrimonial website for her university 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, ran Rawa Incorporated, a construction and design firm.
The Katwal sisters decided to bring the matrimonial website Shreya had created for her college project out of deep storage, develop it into a mobile application and launch it.
They had initially planned to outsource the development of the project, but they put the work aside and immersed themselves in the development of the marriage app last May.
In February 2022, BiheNepal was launched.
The app has been downloaded more than 80,000 times from the Google Play Store and the App Store, according to the co-founding sisters. “The app has more than 50,000 active users,” they say.
After installing BiheNepal, users are given three options to set their priority while configuring their profile. One can choose to look for friends, dating partner or marriage partner.
The app only shows the user’s last name and first initial.
“We designed it this way to maintain privacy,” Shreya said. “Displaying the full name will allow users to search for the person on various social media platforms which may be annoying to many users.”
The app also shows the user’s age, gender and address. In addition to the basic information, users can also update their education and occupation details, hobbies, marital status, religion, food preferences, height and who they are currently living with.
There is also an opportunity for users to update their gotrawhich in the Hindu tradition is considered equivalent to descent.
Hindus practice gotra exogamy, especially in arranged marriages.
While it is not mandatory for users to upload their pictures, Shraddha said they were considering making a profile picture mandatory to prevent fake profiles.
“Most of the complaints and feedback we have received are related to the interface and fake profiles,” Shraddha said. – We have worked to solve these problems. As for fake profiles, we’re going to get users to upload their profile pictures soon.”
While standard use of the app is free, there is also a paid 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 number of upgrades.”
VIP Club and Black Card are the latest 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 access in-person and online meetings to find a match.
The subscription fee for VIP Club is Rs 10,000 for six months and Rs 15,000 for one year.
“However, under the current scheme, any user who subscribes to the six-month pack can get an additional three-month subscription for free,” Shreya said.
Around 50 users have taken VIP Club membership, according to Shreya.
“Members of the VIP Club also get a free subscription to the BiheNepal Black Card, which can be used to unlock various gifts and discounts at many partner businesses in BiheNepal,” said Shraddha.
The Black Card subscription fee for standard users is Rs199 for one month and Rs999 for six months.
Although the number of male users on dating and matrimonial 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 usually decided by family members and relatives,” Shraddha said. “It can prevent forced marriages that still occur in large numbers.”
The co-founders were anxious about getting negative feedback before launching their app, but they’re happy with what they’ve 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 Nepalese start-ups is competition with international products, according to Shraddha.
“On one hand, there are difficulties for Nepali start-ups to gain a foothold, on the other hand, there is always the possibility of them being overshadowed by well-established foreign businesses,” said Shraddha. “We faced difficulties in the initial phase of penetrating the market.”
The co-founders claim BiheNepal is more suitable for the Nepali community compared 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 recently added community features.
“We have been regularly upgrading the app to improve the interface and solve other issues as per the feedback from the 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, organized by Living with ICTa technology-related magazine, will be held on 23 December.