Intuitive alignment is the key to marital bliss. And, Rae gets it!

Posted by Simran


As featured in Evolve in The Statesman newspaper – Sun, 04 December 2016.

In a society where getting married at the right time is probably more important than having a wholesome breakfast, it is getting increasingly common to find urban, educated, young professionals constantly lost in this culture. Even if the individuals know what they want or is looking for, they certainly have no idea where and how to find the right person. Mirroring the same are our Bollywood movies who reflect the changing dynamics of relationships in India. An example is Ki & Ka, an innovative film that had a huge appeal for cosmopolitan and heady working professionals. Ishdeep Sawhney, chief executive officer and co-founder of is convinced that a systemic and scientific approach is the touch-stone to ensure that two individuals are most favorable for each other. He believes that the artificial intelligence system called Rae will bring together two inimitable intuitively aligned matches using neuroscience research and advanced technology. Excerpts from the interview:

Q: What inspired you to come up with
I was obsessed with marrying someone who was the right match for the next 60 years and someone who would be there to enjoy the journey of life while building a family and a fulfilling personal life. I was excited about starting my professional life working on smart-phones and it was a rich environment to learn about innovation, technology and management at Microsoft. At the same time, I was also getting calls from family in India to get married and settle. The next step was to recognize a great match when you meet one. This was a clear indication that getting married to the right partner over the long term was someone who intuitively thinks like you. Having spent a year focused on one person felt like a huge setback and brought increased pressure from family to get married. I then started developing an algorithm to use more of the information that is used when we meet in person to know very quickly within an hour phone call if there is a potential match. I started building a questionnaire based on the neuroscience research published about decision-making in the human brain and towards the second half of 2008 had a clear way to evaluate objectively how good in compatibility a match was from the answers. I lived with my decision and saw it work in real life where communication was easy because I was intuitively aligned with my wife. In 2012, I quit my job at Apple Inc and started Banihal in Cupertino, CA.

Q: How do you think Banihal will change the way things work in the online dating/ matchmaking world?
Finding the right long-term partner to build a family with is a search problem. Once someone narrows down their search to various segments there are 10,000 matches and we randomly meet 10 of them from a larger pool of interest. What remains is finding someone compatible and Banihal finds the people who are intuitively aligned so that there is mutual respect and understanding. We connect with the best matches only so that people are focused on their interactions.

Q: What is this artificial intelligence software Rae all about?
It is a very challenging problem to form a match where two people when they meet in real life are able to confidently say this is the best match. Banihal has a very detailed understanding of all users and each parameter makes a match either more or less compatible. Rae is an artificial intelligence engine that knows the uniqueness of each individual and then selects the best matches. Rae gets smarter as the individual spends more time on the platform and interacts with the matches. The same technology is used in self-driving cars, google search and doing better than humans in games like Go.

Q: Why is it important to be intuitively aligned to your partner?
The biggest reason for divorce and bad marriages is a breakdown in communication.
The right match for a happy married life is someone who is intuitively aligned with you. This makes a relationship get stronger with time.

Q: What’s unique about Banihal?
We are focused on making an introduction where both individuals are confident in saying “Yes” to getting married because their interaction in real life exceeds than expectations. We make introductions to up to five individuals identified by Rae, the artificial intelligence based matchmaker. There is no other platform that shows “only” the top five matches of all potential matches on their platform, this is a very hard technical problem. We show only the best profiles which can lead to marriage and does not inundate the user with thousands of profiles.

Q: Is it able to fulfill the needs of its users?
We have seen the highest interaction rates among users compared to any other matchmaking platform. Women are as active as men in looking for a match on Banihal, which leads to interactions with commitment to understanding each other. The most important pillar of a relationship is communication. Being intuitively aligned is being with someone who sees the world the same way. When we meet someone as a potential match in real life, we form an immediate opinion if we like them and to what degree we like them, this judgment is made without any conscious effort.

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