If you’re in Bangalore, single and are looking for a social circle that doesn’t involve married friends, here’s a great new place to hang out. Floh (Find Life Over Here) is a start-up that aims to bring together urban professionals in their twenties and thirties not with the ambition of setting them up, but to give them a platform to mingle and find interesting people outside their immediate social circles.
Siddharth Mangharam, entrepreneur and founder CEO, hit upon this brainwave after meeting his wife at a cheese-tasting event, an interest they both share. Having realized how increasingly difficult it has become for urban, well-settled single men and women to venture out and meet other singles outside of work and the comfort of friends, Siddharth and his wife decided to pitch this idea to singles within their personal networks, i.e., friends and professional contacts who had hit a dead end in dating.
Having said that, Siddharth is quick to assert that Floh is not a dating site or even a matrimonial one even though it has been instrumental in bringing some singles together. His business model works on the premise that singles have as much right to a happening social life as married people do – in fact, being free from rigid commitments and obligations, singles should find it an active social life easier than their not-single counterparts. There is no matchmaking involved, though. Every member is vetted and personally interviewed by a Floh founder and ‘determined’ whether they’d fit in with the network and enjoy interacting with its existing members before they gain entry.
There is also a very thoughtful right-of-admission reserved – access to Floh is on an invite-only basis, where only an existing member can invite you and refer you to Floh. Siddharth insists he doesn’t want this to balloon to unmanageable sizes and says that it’s not at all about the numbers. Considering the number of women members trump the number of men in the Bangalore venture currently, this ‘security’ measure is much welcome.
S, (name withheld on request), a marketing professional in her thirties, vouches for this. Having been a member since its inception, she’s still single, but welcomes the opportunity to meet like-minded people (or otherwise) outside her hectic corporate life once in a while and let her hair down. Her work and lifestyle have included a lot of travel so far, but she’s now in Bangalore for a good while and highly recommends Floh to single women in Bangalore.
Though this network is open to people in their twenties, Joe, an artist in his mid-twenties, found the evening event to cater mostly to the 30+ crowd, something Siddharth says depends on the event you attend, since the network caters to people in the 25-40 age bracket. Floh events are bracketed into 4 categories – food (cook-outs), beverages (trips to vineyards, cocktail events) outdoors (nature sports, heritage walks) and cerebral/artsy (theatre workshops, photography). One can choose the event based on their likes and preferences. This way, the chances of meeting like-minded singles increases dramatically, says Siddharth. He tries to organize at least 4-8 events a month and covers a wide variety of interests including the recently concluded and hugely successful paint ball event for the perennially-young-at-heart populace.
With experience at McKinsey & Co. and Microsoft, Siddharth with his latest initiative seems to be poised on the edge of hitherto uncharted territory in urban India. His mantra is perfectly summed up in his own quote: “Emotions are best expressed when two people meet in a no-pressure, natural environment.”
He hopes to expand this to Delhi and Mumbai soon.
Bangalore’s Floh already has close to a 1000 members in 6 months of existence, but they’re handpicked and have to go through the Floh screen to gain entry. Floh’s only requirement is that if you find someone you’d like to date in their network, you’ll have to quit the network – a small ask for a terrific opportunity to meet interesting people and to skip the odious matchmaking ritual by well-meaning but largely irritating relatives and/or having to register on matrimonial sites with no surety of authenticity of profiles.
Note: Visit the Floh blog for write-ups and articles by members.