Sunali Aggarwal wanted to create a trustworthy dating space for the LGBTQIA+ community that was free of societal judgement and online fraud. Sunali is a design practitioner and thinker with 19 years of experience in the field of Design, Technology, and Business. She has run a successful UX design consultancy, Beon Systems, for many years and also founded and co-founded many startups, Mobikwik, being one of them. For Pride month, we speak to Sunali, a serial entrepreneur, about As You Are, an Indian LGBTQ App and Service that facilitates global matchmaking for LGBTQ+ individuals seeking partners.
NN: How did it all start for you?
Sunali: It started in my head when section 377 was written down. I started thinking about how LGBTQ people meet and are these places safe. The idea was that even though the laws support same-sex relationships, society still doesn't. The environment is still not very conducive for people to come out and embrace their sexuality and orientation. There is a lot of taboo and fear. There is also a lack of awareness. All these factors make it difficult for people to meet in the physical world. Digital spaces still provided them with a space to be themselves but were plagued by catfishing and fraudsters. Hence I realised there is a need to create a space where people are verified manually to get a match. And that's how we started As You Are.
NN: What is the biggest challenge you face?
Sunali: The biggest challenge, which is perennial to any startup is funds. But even bigger is awareness. We need to spend more time and effort in spreading awareness about sexuality and orientation issues.
NN: What do you like/enjoy about what you do?
Sunali: What I love is that somewhere I am making a difference. Somewhere I am contributing to the liberation and freedom of LGBTQ folks. And most importantly, helping them find their special someone.
NN: What is needed in order to bring about systemic change for the LGBTQ community?
Sunali: We have a lot of LGBTQ groups that exist in silos. We need a way to make them come together yet focus on their specialisations. I think we need one single association which they reckon with, instead of struggling to maintain the groups that they started.
NN: What is your motivation? What keeps you going?
Sunali: Whenever I get to know that someone met the love of their life or their partner on our app, that feeling is amazing and that keeps me going.