Do not fear failure –if you believe in something don’t hold yourself from experiencing or attempting it. Give it your best and hope for a great result. I had a failed relationship, however it never put a fear in me, in fact I learned from it and when I felt ready to put myself there again, I ended up meeting the perfect partner for me. If I would have lived in fear, not taking the risk, I would have never met him.
As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shalini Singh.
Shalini Singh has close to three decades of work experience across continents. She is founder, andwemet.com, a global matchmaking platform for urban Indians over 25 years. She is also founder of Galvanise PR
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
I have a three decade long and interesting professional journey which started from being a Kindergarten teacher straight out of college now being a founder of two companies. The journey has been long and arduous but fun with multiple ups and downs. Prior plunging into the deep sea of entrepreneurship I had professional stints in various companies globally and in India. My life’s experience has taught me how to navigate my way when faced with a stormy situation. My education degree has nothing to do with business studies or entrepreneurship, all of this has been self-taught where learning will always be in progress. I run a content marketing firm Galvanise PR which operates from India and launched andwemet in late 2019, a matchmaking platform for Urban Indians living in India and overseas.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
A big and a resounding “YES”! I am currently working on a matchmaking platform for Urban Indians called andwemet.com, which is a non-intimidating online dating service. The idea of andwemet germinated years ago based on personal experience which I must add was not pleasant, I firmly believed that this problem was not unique to me alone and hence with the desire to change status quo I went about working on building andwemet which started in early 2017 and launched in late 2019. Traditionally Indians have been finding their matches / companions / partners through family acquaintances work, social gathering, from their school days and in the recent past via the internet . I, personally, as an individual have no issue on how love is found but surely have one with what is currently practiced on the online dating platforms or arranged marriages, I simply find these processes of finding a companion “transactional”, and if thisis one of your most important life decisions then we have to find a way to make it easier. The aim therefore has been to make a platform which is away from noise and peer pressure (more so for women in India) for all be it unmarried/ divorce/ separated/ widow individuals This platform is built on tons of sweat and blood of my team and a detailed and thorough research of urban Indian’s spread across all the continents over a period of two years. It clearly stood out in the research that all were looking for a service where they are not judged, can ask for a relationship expectation of their choice be it living-in, companionship or marriage. Our platform addresses all this and more though our unique sign-in process which is exhaustive and lets the real you appear which we believe is essential for making and developing a long-lasting relationship. I can confidently say that members on andwemet.com have enough basic information to make a qualified decision to connect with a prospect match or not.
We continue to evolve the platform based on the feedback we get. Currently we are working on adding a fun element in the form of icebreakers for our verified members. This we believe will help them in breaking the awkwardness often seen early on With Ice-breakers they get to play games (a best way to be natural) with each other which will help them decide, and then take a call whether to chat real time or not.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
Well for one, our product stands out from what is available in the market today. We differentiate at each step bet it our go to market approach, communication for the target audience and most important and critical the signup process. andwemet is for Single urban Indians living in India or overseas, above the age of 25 years looking for a life-partner. We talk about meaningful relationships be it marriage, living-in or companionship. We have upfront discussions among our members on often avoided topics bet it having children or not or living with parents so on. We also encourage a discussion around physical intimacy to normalize it. Graceful transparency is the key on the platform, and information such as if they were married before and the status of their children is shared in the most non- intimidating way.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
I think I have always lived life my way and my beliefs but have done so without disrespecting anyone. For eg: I got into a committed relationship at 40 which is ‘late’ by Indian standards, but it was the perfect time for me, I was not ready for this responsibility earlier. I decided to build andwemet in my 40s, a business which I was advised to avoid as the market is cluttered with dating apps, so from that standpoint naysayers are good as they challenge you to prove them wrong. All I know that it takes maturity and life’s experience to build a matchmaking service like andwemet and our current members are proving us right. Last few years building andwemet seems like a life-time 😊when we have only touched the tip of what we want to build, but when I look back l remember people who believed in me and my idea and have actually came together to make it happen for me. I will always remain in gratitude towards them. The journey at andwemet has just started, but I feel positive and good about it.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
I do not have time or bandwidth for the naysayers. My focus is to prove and give back to the members who are showing trust in us and us at andwemet with our small team are doing all we can to do that.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I absolutely agree that it takes a tribe to achieve something. There are several people who I feel grateful towards, starting with my team — we are a small team but have done something right to have them support my dream and vision. It’s not easy to work with an ideator for whom everything is urgent and a priority, but they manage me well and at the same time deliver the tasks. andwemet would not be possible without the core team of Nagarani Kola, Himanshu Verma. I am also grateful to family and friends for supporting and helping spread a word. I might sound like an Oscar award winner here, but the last 18 months have been enduring which I could survive because of all these people.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
Yes, it is not easy to ignore the naysayers, there have been many moments of doubt but the belief in what I am doing has always outlived. Also, through my growing up years and till date I have always heard my father tell us to stay focused and give our best. He has said and something I abide by — If you feel bad, cry for a bit, wipe your tears and move on because if you continue crying & getting agitated you are getting derailed from your focus.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
- Do not fear failure –if you believe in something don’t hold yourself from experiencing or attempting it. Give it your best and hope for a great result. I had a failed relationship, however it never put a fear in me, in fact I learned from it and when I felt ready to put myself there again, I ended up meeting the perfect partner for me. If I would have lived in fear, not taking the risk, I would have never met him.
- Believe in yourself and the idea you are building- Belief in self needs to come from within, this is important because life’s journey is not simple and to top it entrepreneurship is a lonely journey despite having well-wishers around you. What keeps you going is tenacity and passion that you hold — these attributes build a strong character.
- Ask for help and if refused do not take it to heart. You are refused help because of these reasons (a) the other person does not understand your need (b) by refusing help they want to come across as powerful © they do not trust or have faith in you. I have experienced it and those who refused help have come to me at some stage in life asking for help for themselves. I have helped if I could without holding a grudge against them.
- Let your age not hold you back from starting / doing or learning anything new. Stop allowing the society to box you or throw their expectations at you that you need to have started a venture at a certain age. Just as there is no correct age to be in a committed relationship, there honestly is no correct age to start a venture. If you are clear nothing will come easy and that you are building something to address a pain point.
- Use your time wisely — do not invest it in engaging with the naysayers. Engage it where you see value and feel the value.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
I read impossible as ‘I am possible’.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
To stop judging people on their relationship choices
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!