A new service from India called Inclov is looking to be the first app to help people with disabilities and health disorders find love.
However rather than just looking to connect together people who have disabilities, the app is open and inclusive to everyone.
Currently in a prototype stage, the concept has seen some promising early success, generating 1,000 matches for its 3,600 users six months after launching at the start of the year.
Speaking about how the idea for the app came about, Kalyani Khona, co-founder of Inclov, said: “In 2014, I began my journey with Wanted Umbrella, which was a matchmaking agency for people with disability.
“One year later, we decided to scale up and go global with a matchmaking app focusing on people with disability.
“100 million people with disability live 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.”
How does Inclov work?
With users spread across 55 Indian cities, Inclov has initially proven popular with singles in India, despite the stigma that can sometimes be associated with online dating in the market.
Inclov utilises a grid-style matching system to give both able-bodied and disabled users the chance to meet someone.
The layout lets users search for other singles and filter by age, location, disability type, medication and cure availability – categories settled on after a survey of 300 people across India.
Inclov also accommodates for certain impairments, by providing larger text, different colours for colour blind singles, a video call feature for those who use sign language, and voice notes to help people who may not be able to type.
And with online dating still fairly stigmatised in India, the app is hoping its promise of increased safety will put users at ease and help them enjoy the online dating experience.
Khona explains how the app’s safety features work: “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 with any third-party.
“Furthermore, our in-app chat feature allows them to talk on Inclov without disclosing their phone number or other contact information.
“We 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 can not screenshot any chat or image for further circulation.”
The app also offers an offline meet-up initiative called Social Space, which enables users to connect offline in places that are 100% wheelchair accessible and offer the use of sign language interpreters.
This is designed to make it easier for users to meet offline, which can sometimes prove difficult if people have to consider disability-friendly locations.
The Social Space initiative also hosts speed dating sessions.
And so far, Inclov’s impressive range of inclusive features is proving popular, with Khona saying that, perhaps surprisingly, 50% of Inclov’s users and those who attend Social Spaces are people without a disability.
Khona said: “We do not restrict people without disability to join Inclov. 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.”
That said, Inclov has admitted to struggling to attract women to the app, perhaps due to the stigma that still surrounds gender when it comes to online dating.
However, the app does hope its stringent safety features will help to change this and bring a better balance of users to the platform.
Looking to the future, Inclov hopes to release a new version for Android and launch on iOS, as many potential users have expressed a keen interest in a version for Apple devices.
The startup also hopes to add local and regional languages for the convenience of Indian users.
A new official version of Inclov will be launched very soon, and the release will come with a matchmaking algorithm that takes in users’ medical condition and lifestyle choices, as well as the level of independence they have at home and work.