Have you heard this famous quote, “Allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession”. This month we bring to you a story of a visionary inspiring entrepreneur who has turned her passion into a successful business and is on a mission to make a difference in our society, bring about a positive change and create shift in mindset through her business.
Within her she carries immense zeal, positive attitude, never give up approach and passion to touch peoples lives.
Before we share more about her and her business, we would like you to pause for a few minutes, look within and answer this question:
When you listen to the word MARRIAGE, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Companionship, Togetherness, Love, Life, Laughter, Trust, Respect etc…. guess marriage is a perfect blend of all these ingredients. Every marriage has its own secret ingredients. While marriages are made in heaven, they are planned and connected on earth.
No matter how successful an individual is, being a social animal, we need company or a life partner or want to be married with happily ever after. Isn’t it? Marriage still plays a very vital role in human beings’ life existence and finding the right life partner is the most important element in individuals’ life, one who can stand with you through all the ups and downs of life and enjoy the roller coaster ride.
This entrepreneur is on a mission to redefine the entire journey of finding a life partner. She is passionately working to offer people bespoke, personalised service, which is based on mutual trust and help people find their perfect life partner. With her zeal, hard work and positive attitude she has elevated her business to newer heights and envisions to make her business more inclusive.
Words fail to describe her varied passionate personality, from being a successful maths teacher, to headteacher of a private college for 15 yrs in London, an active member of Maharashtra Mandal London, to organising full-time summer school for 35 children for many years, to acting in Marathi theatres for fundraising, to serving there as a Trustee for many years, and writing as a freelancer for Maharashtra Times, to ESOL teacher(English as a second language teacher),assessor… she has done it all! Now she owns few colleges in UK for the last few years and is an examiner for the local prestigious boards in UK for Maths as well as Marathi. So many Hats to wear!!!............Hats off to you, Madhavi!!!!
Meet Dr Madhavi Amdekar, Founder of Kolumbus International Marriage Services. Madhavi is a teacher at heart, she choose this career as back in her days, it was considered as one of the well respected and reputed careers, with lot of holidays and working with children. She found herself thriving in the classroom, helping children to be the best they can. She has graduated from Ruia College and has taught at King George, Hindu Colony, and other IES schools. She has attained B.Ed from Mumbai and further attained her Phd in UK and her topic was contributions of Santa Guru Namdev in Guru Granth Sahib while she was associated as principle at Khalsa College London.
Madhavi’s career has been something of a journey. Throughout her career, her core values such as her love for teaching, her respect for family and community values, and her commitment to social needs - has not changed. Even as a teenager she used to go to Adivasi Vasahat in Pune to teach, and would read to blind students from a school nearby at Worli. As she has evolved, she found new ways to apply these values. She is also currently serving with her husband Dilip, as the director of ASTML (Academy of Science,Techology& Management Ltd).
“Kaleidoscopes are quite fascinating. The pieces which make up the design do not change, but with each shift, different colors and patterns emerge. Similarly, over the years, I have found that my core values have remained constant, but I have kept discovering novel and unique facets of myself”.
The Journey of Ideation
Despite her fulfilling career in the Education Sector, Madhavi felt that she wanted to give back to the society even more and help make a big impact on people's lives. She realized that bringing people together is a social need around the world.
Inspired by her uncle, Dr. Vijay Khandekar, Dr Vijay was the founder of Kolumbus Marriage Bureau in Pune, Madhavi decided to start his overseas branch in London.
She had seen the happiness that families experienced once they met a good match, and that encouraged her to explore the idea of this business that would create a difference in our society. Without any help or assistance of her husband, Dilip, who was an entrepreneur at heart, Madhavi decided to start her own marriage bureau. Talking about that moment which inspired her to start Kolumbus Marriage Bureau she says:
“When I moved to London in 1991, my uncle encouraged me to start his overseas branch, knowing how passionate I was about his work. Yet, it wasn’t the easiest decision: my children were too young and my husband was a globetrotter, often away on business. He also didn’t particularly like the idea, suggesting it was an outdated aajibai’s activity to pass time ! The idea stuck with me though, and as I was not working at that time, it started to take form as a hobby. I found myself developing a vision for where I could take the idea. In the end, I couldn’t refuse it. I gave my first advertisement in Maharashtra Mandal London’s monthly brochure, and I was overwhelmed by the response. I realized my instincts had been right: it is a social need”.
“For me, motivation comes in the form of success! One evening, Dilip’s colleague and his wife visited us for dinner. His wife mentioned that her US-based son wanted to meet a suitable girl. So, I immediately showed her my then-nascent database. And Hey! Within a couple of months, that was the first international marriage arranged by me. It was a grand celebration in Pune, and I was thrilled to have made the difference. I was introduced as the matchmaker, and through word-of-mouth many new profiles came my way. I felt very happy and satisfied on that occasion, there was no looking back”.
Turning hobby and passion into a business with a bigger vision
“Doing something I care so much about, it’s always been a thin line between a hobby and a real business - but that’s how it began. Though I had a few successes under my belt, they had been sporadic and I needed to refine my uncle’s business model both for the international clientele I work with, and also for me. Not everyone likes their photos displayed on dating sites, so through my service I brought in privacy and confidentiality as one of the important aspect ,which attracted many upper middle class clienteles".
"My success encouraged me to work harder towards my goal because I knew the great happiness and satisfaction that came with each match”.
Shaping Business Model and Growing to bring positive change
Madhavi's major challenge during her journey was defining her business model. She knew she needed a structured plan. Another problem that she frequently faced in the initial years of business was that male clients would meet with female clients through her agency but not return for marriage. It felt wrong and hurtful because it wasn't fair to her clients or their families as many preferred to go to India and get married in 2 weeks. But that phase is over now. Career oriented girls from India would not accept that now.
That’s when Madhavi decided to introduce nominal registration fee and success fees to filter out clients that weren’t serious about finding a match through her. Since Madhavi had started an overseas branch of her uncle's business, she frequently faced difficulties in matching his business model. Operating a matchmaking business in India was much easier because of the high number game and the culture of bringing people together in the community was ingrained in the people, and they readily shared information to meet a suitable match. However, operating the same business overseas wasn’t as easy. For professional NRIs, confidentiality and anonymity were important elements of matchmaking. These individuals had thriving careers and were well-established, but they didn’t have the time or opportunities to socialize and meet new people.
Keeping NRI requirements in mind, Madhavi modified her business model to ensure that her services were tailored to meet their needs. She now offers bespoke, personalized service which are based on mutual trust. Madhavi makes sure that she meets every client in person to learn more about them as an individual. She believes that it is essential to identify the strengths and weaknesses of every client so she can find them a match that compliments their personality.
Madhavi verifies the credentials of her clients where possible and asks them to share personal information so she can handle their accounts carefully and sensitively. This is the skill that Madhavi has learned and mastered over time, dealing with different clients. She receives most of her clients through reference because of the sensitive nature of her business and success. However, the age of social media has its own power, which was recently displayed when one of her celebrity clients, Sonali Kulkarni, promoted Madhavi on her social media account, and millions of followers got to know about Madhavi and her thriving business Kolumbus.
Growing with leaps and bounds
Over the years, Madhavi expanded her business – horizontally rather than vertically. As she established her business model, she envisioned to grow and take it to next level. With a lot of courage and determination she is growing her business. While she was initially focused only on marriages, it didn't take her long to realize that older people also needed companionship. Having spent their entire lives with a partner, widowers and divorcees feel very lonely as they reach a certain age, and it is much more difficult to live alone outside India. That's when they need someone to share their life and happiness with.
The depression from the Covid-19 pandemic pushed mature singles to reach out to Madhavi to help them find companionship. Some men tend to be more lonely where as some single ladies tend to be socially and mentally stronger.
Over the years as Madhavi has grown her business and has experienced changing times she has realised that loneliness has now become a universal challenge, and with today’s modern high achievers, making meaningful connections can be challenging. Now, girls are equally career oriented and every one takes good time and precaution before making the final decision.
“All of my clients are highly educated and their parents are professionals too . Hence, they are grown with certain values and comforts. So, the concept of ‘compromise’ is unheard of. This definitely reflects on their lifestyle, thinking and expectations about the partner, which is a challenge”.
"Another important aspect is that some of my clients hesitate to express their emotions freely, while some lack communication skills and some are nervous, this leads to misunderstanding and in such scenarios, I have played and continue to play an important role of being a marriage counsellor, and creating a strong bond between the prospective couple".
Over the years Madhavi has successfully found partner for many individuals who are living a happily ever after married life. Her current services/offerings include:
· Introductory Consultation
· Relationship Advice & Support
· Saathi (Companionship)
Alongside she also conducts "MEET and GREET" events which are very successful.
Madhavi says, "Uniting two souls is a priceless job which gives me ultimate satisfaction, and I'm very passionate about it. I'm very happy to make myself helpful to the community."
Helping someone find a partner is a satisfying and exciting experience, and she is definitely playing an important role in the community in bringing people together.
Madhavi’s Advice to Entrepreneurs
“Be passionate about your work, and care about what you are delivering and the value you are bringing to your customers. Study your customers and the demand for your product or service. Study who you’re up against. Have your goals, and make sure they’re realistic. Calculate your risks, and have Plan B and Plan C ready to fall back on. Have patience”.
“I would like to concentrate more on companionship services, as today I think that is more of a need following the social impact of Covid-19. I also want to focus on people with special needs. In the past, I have successfully united a couple, where the boy was a CA based in USA and he was a polio victim, and now he is very happily married. With growing changes in the society I am aware of the importance of including people of all ages, gender, and LGBT preferences and intend to extend my services to everyone as everyone has needs and emotions and would like to express the same to his own person. That’s something I think about all the time”.
If you are or any of your loved ones are looking to find the right partner, please feel free to reach out to Madhavi by visiting her website www.kolumbusinternational.co.uk.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Madhavi for sharing her entrepreneurial journey with and giving us an opportunity to bring forward her inspiring entrepreneurial story with the world. We wish Madhavi and Kolumbus International heaps of success.