Religion in India is a massive industry, worth approximately Rs 2.5 lakh crore, roughly $40 billion. Even as a pandemic is ravaging the country and the world, people pray to a multitude of gods for different situations. These activities drive a lot of demands for products and services related to worship, something that is true for a religiously diverse country like India. The religious and spirituality market is full of gurus, temples, pilgrimages that tech startups now want to conquer.
Long Queues and Lack of Crowd-control
Wind back a couple of years, Goonjan Mall, a young tech engineer, discovered a problem during a visit to the Karni temple during the Navratri festival. The problem? For most people visiting the temple, it was challenging to obtain Prasada, a type of food used as an offering to the gods. Long queues, a loud environment with impatient people, and a lack of organization ruined the religious experience for many devotees seeking their divine blessing. The young tech engineer started an on-demand service for the delivery of prasad from more than 50 temples directly to people’s homes.
Bridging the Gap Between Religion and Technology
As the market for religion grows, entrepreneurs use technology to innovate different niches and segments, targeting hundreds of millions across the country. Another tech entrepreneur started focusing on Islamic pilgrimages to Mecca. Abid Khan from Hyderabad, left Google to start a site that sells kits for pilgrimages, from information about destinations, rituals, and the passage of travel that needs to be made as part of the pilgrimage. The market for Hajj and Umrah is growing at a rate of 7 percent per year. Currently, over 7 million Indians make pilgrimages each year. There are many other such niches to tap into the religious and spirituality market in India. For Khan, he recognized that it was complicated to get a hold of all products and services needed to make the pilgrimage, there was no one-stop-shop for everything, and information was all over the place. He saw the problem and seized the opportunity to provide a package to the millions of devotees taking the pilgrimage each year.
People pay a premium for security, their children, and religion. People turn to their faith in good and bad times, and no one ever negotiates with god. The religious and spiritual space is lucrative, and it’s quickly filling up with hungry entrepreneurs. Adaption to these religious services have been instant, but challenges remain as large parts of the consumers in this space are elderly who live in rural areas. A majority of the demographic group lives in harder-to-reach locations and are not as tech-savvy as the younger crowds. Startups need to stay lean and innovative to disrupt the market with technology which is easy to use in order to digitalize this colossal market.