Love knows no boundaries and not even physical. In a day and age where the external looks and appearances matter so much, here’s a novel matchmaking app that’s breaking a mindset where even differently abled people can find love.
Recently, at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, athletes such as Deepa Malik, Devendra Jhajharia, Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati made us proud by bringing home the medals. It just goes to show that the limits we create are only in our minds, and not in our bodies.
With inspirational stories of grit and determination, here’s a different take on love and relationships. There too can be a ray of hope, a bright sunny day in the lives of the differently abled.
Love should be empowering, it should strengthen and not weaken us. As cliched as it may sound, if a relationship cripples you emotionally and physically, then it isn’t love. But here’s a new dimension of love for those who are keen on finding it; and if you believe in it, love will find its way back to you.
The Lifestyle Portal shares the story of Inclov – that wants the disabled/ differently abled people to find love, togetherness and companionship. Here’s their story –
When did it all begin?
In 2014, Kalyani Khona, the co-founder of Inclov began her journey with Wanted Umbrella which was a matchmaking agency for people with disability. One year later, they decided to scale up and go global with a matchmaking app focusing on people with disability.
“There are over a 100 million people with disability in India and according to our estimates, 67% never find a life partner. We were quite disheartened by the response people with disability received on existing dating apps and web portals. Hence, we launched Inclov, which stands for “Inclusive Love”, explains Shankar Srinivasan, Co-Founder at Inclov.
The initial investment back in 2014 was Rs 6,000 which later they crowd funded for the mobile app on Wishberry. With 143 backers, Inclov managed to raise Rs. 6,15,000 which helped them create the first prototype of Inclov.
Shankar further adds, “Gradually as we got immense support from the Government of India, we went on to raise our seed funding round in August this year. We released Inclov on Google Play Store in Jan 2016 and as of October 2016, we have 5,000 downloads and 1,600 matches. Two of our users got married in May 2016. We plan to release Inclov 2.0 next month on Android and iOS by January 2017.”
The word Inclov is coined from two words’ inclusive’ and ‘love’. The idea is to not look at love differently for anyone and at Inclov they believe that everyone deserves to have someone to come back home to. ‘No one deserves to be alone unless they want to be’ is the line that fuels everybody on the team to do better, every single day.
The biggest challenge is to ensure accessibility. Inclov want everything that we do to be accessible. Be it their mobile app, their events or even their Facebook posts. Every event that they conduct has a sign language interpreter, necessary ramps and the same goes for their application which is accessible for people with various types of disabilities and disorders.
“In fact, every social media post that we do has an accessible link to it. India is on its way to be an accessible nation, we are doing our part to make it more inclusive not leaving anyone behind,” smiles Shankar.
Major clients a Inclov
Shankar explains, “At present, the app is in its prototype phase. We are learning about their needs and requirements through this prototype since a year now. In a month, we plan to re-launch Inclov and the new release will have matchmaking algorithm based on their medical condition and lifestyle choices. It also matches on levels of independence users have at home and work.”
Through optimal readability of their profile pages, Inclov ensures people with visual impairment can access Inclov without any dependency on friends or family members. In fact, they’re also releasing a new feature such as video calling for people with hearing impairment and voice notes to ensure people with upper body mobility can have a better experience with Inclov.
Inclov profiles are reviewed and curated before new users start connecting to existing users on the platform. We do not share any user’s contact details to any third-party.
Furthermore, their in-app chat feature allows them to talk on Inclov without disclosing their phone number or other contact information. They also have a mobile number verification in place to ensure each user can be tracked in case of cyber crime.
“Lastly, we have a strict ‘no screenshot’ policy so the images are not misused or circulated. Users cannot screenshot any chat or image for further circulation. We also have our offline meet-up initiative called Social Spaces to ensure people are more comfortable meeting each other in a safe place. The locations we choose for our meet-ups are 100% accessible for wheelchair users and have sign language interpreters for ease in communication. We also do speed-dating sessions at Social Spaces,” adds Shankar.
50% of Inclov users on the app or those who attend Social Spaces are people without disability. Inclov does not restrict people without disability to join Inclov.
“However, we have always aimed to provide an inclusive accessible platform for people with disability where they stand an equal chance to find love. Inclov has a high match rate and low churn rate due to our various matchmaking filters that set the expectations right in a transparent manner. We started working on the app in 2014 and 15 months later launched it on Playstore in January 2016,” mentions Shankar.
What makes Inclov unique
The USP of Inclov is that even though it focuses on people with disability and disorders, it is open for all. As the founders put it, Inclov also includes people like you and me. The platform is for all but they primarily focus on people with disability and disorders.
Inclov shares some reviews and feedback of their happy users:
1. Sunny, Inclov App User
Today I got a call from Shankar (the co-founder of the Inclov app) and he personally guided me and solved all the issues I was facing with the app. 5 stars for the concept as well as for support! Keep working hard guys; it’s a long journey but with same efforts, days aren’t far when the publicity of the app won’t be needed anymore.
2. Pooja, Inclov App User
The app and the usage are very easy and without hassles. Loved the concept and the sensitive approach towards the inclusion of all. It’s a great platform to meet like-minded and decent people.
Inclov & meetups
Apart from the app, Inclov also organises Social Spaces which is their offline meet-up property where they aim to provide an innovative platform for all their users to come and meet in-person. These meet-ups are inclusive in nature and their curated locations are universally designed which ensure 100% accessibility in infrastructure for people with disability.
People with disability usually have restricted social lives due to inaccessible transports, roadways and public places. To bring about this systemic change and create an inclusive environment for people with disability, Inclov launched Social Spaces which has proven to be a huge success. With a team of two, we have had 5 meetups so far, impacting 1000+ people.
Shankar further explains, “It becomes an accessible platform for users of our app to put a face to people they are talking to on the app. It reduces the pressure and loosens everyone up. Typically we organise activities that involve the users to come out and share their story. We organise poetry sessions, stand-up comedy acts, cooking workshops, motivational talks etc.”
A message to the differently abled
Shankar adds, “Inclov wants them to know that we are all different in our own way, we want to empower them through Inclov and help them find love. We also want them to step out of their homes and explore the world and meet new friends through our meet-up initiative, Social Spaces.”
The long-term plan is to go global with their product offering. In next 12 months, Inclov plans to release the new version of Inclov on Google Playstore as well as launch our iOS version which many of their target audience is eagerly waiting for. They’re also planning to add local and regional languages for the convenience of their Indian users.
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