Excl: Matchmaking app Inclov to add algorithm to show compatible matches for users with different disabilities

Inclov, the match making app for people with disability and health disorders is releasing the next version of its app with algorithm to provide compatible matches to people with different disability. Started in January 2016, the app presently claims to have 5000 registered users in India. We caught up with Kalyani Khona, CEO & Founder of Inclov to learn more about the latest additions to the app and their plans to make different spaces more inclusive for people with disability and otherwise.

Categories and registration

Hidden Pockets: What categories of people does your app, Inclov include?

Kalyani Khona: We have people with physical disability, intellectual disability, health disorders, no disability. Almost 50% are without disability as well. We have people with mental disorders like depression or someone who might have had a kidney transplant. Basically, anyone with a medical condition.

Hidden Pockets: Which is the category with the highest number of registrations?

Khona: Polio is highest second is cerebral palsy, next I would assume is Visually and Hearing impaired because our app is made compatible for them.

Hidden Pockets: What is the process involved in registering a user to your app?

Khona: You have to download the app from the Play Store first and create an account with email ID and password. We do a mobile verification and then you can create a profile. Then your profile goes up for review for 24 hours when we give you feedback if you need to change the display picture, if any information is not clear etc. to get you closest to finding a match. Once this is done, we accept your profile and you can start. While you are in review, you can start viewing profiles.

But you can start connecting only once we approve your profile. Once the other person accepts your request, you can start talking on our text box. We have a chat messenger in the app itself so that they don’t have to share their phone number, email IDs or any personal information. We also don’t allow people to take screen shots. Screen shots are disabled in our app. This way, women facing cyber crime issues are lesser because you can’t send or circulate images. It is only a platform to connect.

Next release and new features

Hidden Pockets: Do you have any limits on the number of people you can meet on the platform in a day, similar to Tinder?

Khona: Not right now. We plan to release Inclov 2.1 in a month now in November 2016. That’s where you have limitations like 5 to 10 profiles a day. We are changing our model to give one profile more time than scrolling through profiles and series of options in a day itself. So far, our platform, app, even our offline social meet up, everything is free.

Hidden Pockets: Why the decision to change the model?

Khona: We were reading some reports and following some patterns on our app. What happens is they see all the profile that reaches their filter. They open it and see it. They launch the chat and start talking to so many people at a time which means you don’t follow up. My experience on apps like Tinder has been that I have unlimited matches, I start talking and never follow up or complete that conversation. We are not sure how this will work. If we show you five profiles, and two of them accept then the chances are higher that you will get a match because you will spend the day talking to those two people rather than waiting to connect to more people. In the end, it is addictive. It has entertainment value and it is addictive to keep swiping and keep looking for more profiles.

But if we tell, hey stop you need to look within these people we show you or wait for tomorrow, you give what is already available a shot. This is our hypothesis because otherwise people say what’s more, she’s hot or she’s not. They turn on a filter and don’t even give it a shot while talking. The idea is to make this is a process of matchmaking rather than an one day thing to find a life partner. You’d agree with me when I say that finding a life partner is not definitely a one day thing, at least in India. You are seeing the profile, talking to a person, meeting them in person instead of scrolling through our entire database in an entire day.

We are moving from being an app that has a database to an app that has an algorithm. With our release in November, if you are visually impaired, you will not get anyone with hearing impairment because that is not a compatible match. You can’t see their sign language and they cannot hear you. It started as an agency model, then an app that has a database. Now we are shifting to a process driven algorithm which is helping them find a better match and not just showing them what all is available.

Special features for visually impaired

Hidden Pockets: How have you modified your app for people with visual impairment?

Khona: Most people cannot move beyond the sign up page because of accessibility. They can’t even sign up because they can’t read forms so our on-boarding process is 100% accessible. Each of our page has optimal readability, labelling each code in the background. For instance, it will read out loud Name, Puneeth, Age 26 and all the other information that is there. Everything is in audio in two ways, either you can put your headphones on and listen to it or it can talk back on every Android phone.

Hidden Pockets: How do you on-board a person with visual impairment?

All fields that he has to fill are labeled. Every character input is also spoken out. It is not like you can say Hi My name is…. and it will fill it automatically. We are not there yet. That is Artificial Intelligence. But when he inputs A, it will say A and when he adds B, it will say B. It will read it out loud to him.

Customisation for other disabilities

Hidden Pockets: How have you made your app accessible for people with other kinds of disability?

Khona: People with hearing impairment, so far have been exchanging their Skype Ids through text. So it is accessible to people with hearing impairment. But we are moving to the next phase and adding video calling so they talk to each other without sharing contact details. They can call the person and talk to them in sign language on video, in our app itself. For people with cerebal palsy and upper body impairment, we so far had a bottom bar. We are moving to card based profiles. It will be an addition. We will also have cards. You can swipe it. Moving forward to the next phase, we are also going to have voice calls. This is in the future but we are right now focused on releasing the new version.

The version that you currently see is a prototype. We used it for 9 to 10 months to see what users are doing and what are they searching for. It had no algorithm. We wanted to study their usage patterns. Who are they looking for, who are they connecting to, what are they talking etc. After this, we wanted to revamp the app. The new release is called Inclov 2.0 incorporating every learning that we have got in the last 8 to 10 months.

Learnings from the prototype

Hidden Pockets: What are some of the learnings that you had in the last 10 months?

Khona: The first criteria that we noticed is matchmaking patterns and the second is how they are using it. Like I said, we found out about the user preferences. For instance, the first preference of people with polio is people without disability and second would be people with polio.

Hidden Pockets: What are the patterns that you have noticed about people with intellectual disability?

Khona: The number of people with mental disability or intellectual disability is really less on our app. Not gotten there yet to be able to crack it so far. So far, just the array of problems for physical disabilities to find solutions is so huge that it hasn’t given us, our team of five people enough bandwidth to move to intellectual disability yet. We do plan to move into that area and figure this out. I know that people with down syndrome do get married and are in relationships. It is a huge possibility but we’ve not been able to move there yet.

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