"If the show guarantees to interest even my mom and child, only then I am willing to be a Shark."
But why did he take so long to 'make a deal' with the show that celebrates innovation on Indian TV?
In conversation with ScoopWhoop, Anupam Mittal gets candid about his journey from shaadi.com to Shark Tank India and everything else in between.
"What took you so long? What were you waiting for?" This was Mittal's initial reaction when he was approached to be one of the Sharks on the Indian version of Shark Tank.
He was certain that a show like Shark Tank was designed for India, a fundamentally entrepreneurial country. He wanted the show to invite even the most obscure businesses, such as mothers selling pickles, jewellery, or sarees.
If the show isn't intending to be technical but engaging and entertaining yet educational then I want to do it. So it took me a couple of months to check if they’re on the right track.
With a strong desire for the show to connect with every household, he hoped it would have a similar potential as KBC in terms of relatability. Safe to say, the show did justice to his ambition.
The founder of shaadi.com goes on to make a hilarious confession. He never recognised himself as an 'Internet baby' until Shark Tank India happened.
Although I have built many Internet businesses, I was completely absent from social media. I've only been active since last month, while doing STI. Let me tell you, it's addictive. Kyuki ab 'hum aapke hain meme.'
Two decades ago, Anupam's venture shaadi.com ignited a spark of revolution when he digitalised the traditional concept of marriage.
The goal was to find 'karodon mein ek.' When he visited India on vacation from the US, he was pursued by people who wanted to match-make him, although he had no intention of marrying.
Yaar ek aadmi ko life partner choose karna hai toh why should it be limited? I thought agar koi Timbaktu mein bhi baitha ho, one should be able to find them.
"People thought we had gone crazy because shaadi aur Internet pe?" Nonetheless, his journey was riddled with challenges. There was a low Internet penetration in the country and nobody wanted to join the company. Raising funds was difficult. In 2002, they didn't have enough money to even buy the domain of shaadi.com.
In a world where youngsters can find a partner on the tip of their fingers, his competitors could range from matrimonial to dating sites. However, Anupam 'swipes left' on this notion.
My competition is God. God and fate interfere a lot in my business. They accidently make people fall in love and they don’t need my service. If it wasn't for them, my market would be ten times better. I need to have a conversation with God at some point.
Anupam can't wrap his head around how people think of his platform as a space for arranged marriages. He does, however, consider his venture for 'planned marriages', where two individuals can meet and fall in love.
As per him, less than 25% of the profiles are created by parents, so it's a widespread myth that youngsters are mercilessly coerced into doing this. He claims that togetherness is the purpose of his platform which needs to be celebrated. This transcends religion, caste and gender kyuki pyaar pyaar hota hai.
Although the Sharks appeared to be fierce competitors on-screen, the backstage was peppered with giggles. He shares what it was like behind-the-scenes.
When only one Shark invested into a deal and the others were out, we used to give that Shark a 'buyer's remorse' after the pitchers left. We ragged and teased them, instilling fear in them that those founders will give them sleepless nights.
Anupam recalls the show's strangest pitch, which he will never forget: Belly Button Shaper. From asking about the Sharks' fantasies to doing weird antics on stage, that pitch made them fall off their chairs, literally.
During that pitch we discovered that he was Namita’s ex-employee. So that became even funnier. We went backstage and teased Namita, saying that this is what you do to your employees that provokes them to come up with such ideas.
Anupam is grateful to his wife, Ms. Anchal Kumar, who has been a part of reality TV in the past, instilled confidence in him and encouraged him to be himself on stage before the shoot began.
He had always been a fan of Shark Tank US, but he always added his own element into the Indian version of the show which eventually made it special.
He admits that working in the industry caused him to lose his idealism and be a cynic. However, only after becoming a Shark he could regain it looking into the eyes of the founders who were full of innocence and hope.
Some founders came from non-IIT/ IIM backgrounds, some from tier three towns; homosexual individuals who were shunned by the society, I could see the innocence in their eyes. Because of Shark Tank I can dream even bigger and be less of a cynic.