Thursday, 24 January 2013

Not Your Regular Meet-up Group

Mumbai is a tough city for singles! For people around 25 and single, things are nastier, as everyone around you is getting married, leaving you alone on weekends! Mumbai is also full of people who are bored of hanging out with the same faces every weekend, at the same place. Well, if you belong to any of the above groups then we have good news for you! Few months ago a bunch of Mumbaikars, who too went through all the above and decided that they had enough, started a group by the name ‘Covalence’. Don’t mistake it for a dating platform, it definitely isn’t one. Covalence is this supercool place where you have the opportunity to meet other supercool people from the city. Sounds interesting? Read on…

Covalence is the idea of three Mumbaikars, Riday Thakur, Neha Majithia and their silent partner. All three are born and brought up in Mumbai. Riday is an Engineer and an MBA, Neha too is an engineer and their silent partner happens to be a dentist. Having studied abroad and returned, they found their social lives in a stagnating phase, “we were all in the same boat where our social lives had stagnated and we weren’t meeting any new people,” says Neha. They saw themselves struggling to find people to hang out with. But they felt that they couldn’t be the only one out here in Mumbai who were having the same feeling! That’s when the trio decided to take matters in their own hands, culminating in the formation of Covalence.

“We started it off as a social experiment to see what kind of response we would get,” says Riday. They were clear there was a dire need for such a platform, as everyone they spoke to seemed to be caught in a similar situation. The setup required some basic investments in terms of the website and the backend. Initially they were a bit apprehensive, thinking that people would have qualms about turning up alone for the events. “It is a break away from the social norm. People in India are always more comfortable being accompanied by at least one friend,” says Neha. However their apprehension was soon laid to rest, as most of the members didn’t show any such concern.

To explain to you what Covalence is, let us tell you what it is not! First and foremost, Covalence is in no way a dating service! “It’s not only for singles, we in fact have more than a few married members as well as members who are in relationships,” says Neha. It is also not a business networking group, they do not encourage members to exchange business cards or sales pitches. “Our environment is relaxed and meant to be purely for interesting conversations with strangers,” he says. Privacy is of umpteenth importance at Covalence, so don’t expect them to share contact details of other members. “We want to maintain the anonymity of our members at all times and give them the discretion of sharing their contact information with whomever they want,” says Riday.

Their first meet-up was organized at Salt Water CafĂ©, Bandra. The number of invitees are limited to 40, a number that is small enough so that you can meet everyone by the end of the event and big enough so that you have a good variety of people to talk with. “We always maintain a 1:1 ratio of men to women and try and keep the professions of the people attending diverse,” says Neha. The kind of people that you can expect to meet at Covalence is pretty exciting, from professional cheese consultant to Women entrepreneurs, the backgrounds of members are diverse and interesting.
Neha Majithia

Covalence is three events old, but that’s like 120 interesting people and experiences! “The good part is a considerably long list, people showing up on time and taking our emails seriously was definitely a plus,” says Riday. They are particularly proud of their selection process, a guarded secret, through which they have been able to pick out really intellectual, diverse and interesting people. Some of the members who attended the events eventually became their friends. They have had one or two issues two, like people dropping out at the last minute without genuine reasons. They have a zero tolerance policy to keep this in check, “unfortunately we’ve had to use on a few people,” says Riday.

Covalence is still very young, and the trio are using these early days to pick up valuable lessons. “Hosting events is a constant learning process and we’re constantly making small adjustments to the make-up of each event,” says Neha. They are trying to find the right balance of money, experimenting with new locations and different parts of the city. “We’re also trying to keep our events interesting and have a differentiating factor for each event,” she says. Based on their experiences and learning from the first three events they are working towards the future. Right now they are focussing on growing the member base, have more interest specific events, diversify outside of bars and hopefully spread Covalence to other cities. The future definitely looks bright for the bunch!
Riday Thakur

So what do these three Mumbaikars, who are providing other Mumbaikars the opportunity to rediscover their city through meeting new and interesting people, feel about their city? “Born and raised in the city, we don’t see ourselves living anywhere else. The city is constantly evolving, has fantastic energy people and the things we hear people do are constantly surprising us. We hope to play a small part in changing the social scene here in Mumbai, to do away with the stigma of talking to random strangers and hope people become less judgmental. We would like to think we’re helping Mumbai become a more socially interactive environment,” they say.  We can vouch for this, having been to their event and having observed Covalence at work.

These guys are changing the city one event at a time, and if you too would like to be a part of it then head over to Covalence. PS: Put on your thinking cap, the registration form happens to be a bit tricky!

You can also keep in touch with Covalence on Facebook and Twitter

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