Started as a matchmaking app back in June 2020, As You Are has grown by leaps and bounds. One year into the matchmaking space, we’ve realised the LGBTQ community needed more than swiping profiles. Although the matchmaking app, since its inception, has had over 25k downloads, there has not been significant engagement, so we launched the WE Community and Group Chat features to further improve the chances of people making those virtual connections with the LGBTQ community.
Through the pandemic, these virtual connections have become a crucial part of the new normal, whether it is dating or community building. According to a survey conducted last year, 83% of users are more interested in dating during these times. Sunali Aggarwal, the founder of As You Are, says, “Aiming to meet people where they are at, we are taking an approach to focus on long-term relationships and bonds built with more emphasis on conversations.”
Created by Sunali Aggarwal in 2020, ‘As You Are’ is the very first Indian homegrown social networking and matchmaking app for the Indian LGBTQ community of various gender identities and sexual orientations. Till now, India lacked a significant online social platform that serves all LGBTQ people. As “As You Are” understands the challenges that are unique to India in bringing the LGBTQ community together, from the diversity of culture and language across such a vast country to the hesitancy to come out and the social risk it entails.
In the existing apps that cater to LGBTQ people in the country, there is way too much focus on hypersexuality, and they have a hook-ups centric focus. This approach might not work for everyone, and especially not for LGBTQ people who are still in the closet trying to figure out their identities. As You Are was built specifically to address this need and aimed to create a safe space that would act as both a matchmaking app and a social-networking platform where users could engage in conversations with like-minded LGBTQ people.
The manual verification procedure on the Matchmaking app helps keep spammers and inauthentic people out of the app. With the intent to cater to closeted individuals, the As You Are app design gives space to people who do not wish to upload their photos, but their interests could say something about them.
Listed by iDiva as one of the top five apps for Indian LGBTQ people, As You Are aims to create a wholesome and positive environment for queer people trying to find love, friendship, community, and long-term relationships in the Indian LGBTQ community. Designed to make the space a “no-pressure zone” to interact with other members of the LGBTQ community, As You Are keeps the safety of users as its prime focus.
After being faced with some hesitation among Indian investors, Sunali has so far been able to raise a total of $250K in Compulsorily Convertible Debentures (CCDs), from various queer couples who are angel investors and also Indian-origin entrepreneurs from the US marketing space.
There is a dire need for spaces that are an ‘ecosystem’ for the LGBTQ community and conversations. Sunali says, “We are trying to build an ecosystem where people come on board and help each other. It is not just for companionship, and it caters to all sorts of lifestyle needs where the community may need help. This is a cohesive platform only for the LGBTQIA+ community.”