This Indian App Aims To Be On 300 Mn Smartphones In India
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India, the second-most populous country in the world, has slowly turned into the biggest market for leading multinational technology startups. Thanks to the cheaper Internet rates and one powerful thrust by Jio in 2016, India has now become the second-most populous country with Internet users just after China. India currently has 560 million Internet users, attracting a slew of social media players to expand their operations in India.
Facebook, the most popular social media platform, places India on top of its charts when it comes to market share. In recent times, short video-sharing platforms have witnessed an unforeseen rise, threatening the older players. Tiktok, a popular Chinese short video-sharing platform, in a jiffy started making the headlines more in India than the rest of the world due to its popularity. Though every day new players are emerging and older players like Instagram trying to tap the 560 million Internet user market, Roposo an Indian platform has surpassed its Indian counterparts and is currently the most downloaded short video-sharing platform in the country.
Speaking to Entrepreneur India, Avinash Saxena, founder of Roposo, shares the journey of the app and how it has impacted them post the ban of 59 Chinese apps.
From Fashion Centric To Video-Sharing Platform
Every year, hundreds and millions of startups are established. In the long run, while most collapse, others thrive. In this cut-throat competition, startups harping on new and trending ideas often takes the lead. Over the years, many startups had to scrap their original ideas to connect to a much wider customer base and earn investors’ confidence.
A classic example of such a case is the popular video-streaming platform YouTube. Before 2005, YouTube began as a video dating site. However, when the dating site failed to gain traction, the founders scrapped the idea and turned it into a video-sharing platform. It later got acquired by Google and now has a valuation of $20 billion.
Similarly, a Gurugram-based trio in 2014 founded Roposo. The three IIT graduates—Mayank Bhangadia, Avinash Saxena, and Kaushal Shubhank—started Roposo as a discovery platform for women. “It turned into the social network for women focusing on fashion, beauty, and wellness,” said Saxena.
However, within two years, the trio changed their entire business model and focussed solely on videos as they believed it was more interactive. It was during this time, Tiktok was launched.
“We realized that videos were gaining more traction than any other medium. We believed these were easy,” Saxena added.
They noted that since India was a land of multiple languages, people were inclined towards watching videos rather than reading texts in various languages.
Back then, Roposo had around three to five million active users, but after it transformed into a video-sharing platform, the platform noted an organic growth. Now it has more than 80 million active users.
Multilingual, Scrutinise and Monetise
From the time Roposo transformed into a video-sharing platform, the founders stressed upon the importance of language.
“India is a land of language and multiple dialects. We used all this information to build our recommendation for the user so that they can consume content in their own regional language. We wanted to provide our platform for regional content creators,” added Saxena.
Roposo has now marked its presence in 12 different languages.
According to Saxena, he found that all the video-sharing apps were single feed platforms. “In a single feed platform, a user receives a similar type of content over his feed. At the end it becomes very monolithic and single theme content,” he added.
The trio wanted to break this chain and provide a platform to even niche content creators.
“This is why on Roposo you will find content ranging from dance video to even healthcare.”
The social media app monetizes its content creators’ hard work. “There is a coin system on Roposo, which a user can later redeem as real money,” added Saxena. Roposo’s team also help content creators connect with brands to help them get assignments which later gets monetized
“We have seen many content creators earning in lakhs per month here in Roposo,” Saxena said.
At a time when most of the urban households have access to smartphones, scores of videos are released. While it brings a plethora of opportunity for real talents to showcase their creativity, many use it to incite violence or malign others, making it onerous for content moderators to flag them.
“Since our platform started as a woman-centric platform, we have a zero-tolerance policy for contents not fitting our standards,” he said.
He claims that no video on Roposo can be on a platform without being scrutinized by a strong team of content moderators.
The firm in June last year raised $5 million in part of series D round from Tiger Global.
Lockdown and Chinese App Ban
While lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus hit the businesses across the sector, social media apps witnessed a sudden spike in their active user base. According to data from an analytics firm, Indians spent 4.3 hours on their smartphones per day in March after the lockdown started. Another survey, conducted by Hammerkopf Consumer Survey, said that during the first week of lockdown there was an 87 per cent rise in social media usage compared to the week before lockdown.
Roposo witnessed a rise in numbers of videos being released and the average time spent over the platform during the lockdown.
“Our entire community came together and made us trend on top both on Android and iOS platform during the lockdown,” he added.
To keep the users engaged, Roposo came up with various innovative features. These features helped users to create much better content without stepping outside.
Commenting on the banning of 59 Chinese apps, Saxena said it was an unexpected move. He said since Roposo was trending on top, the team was actively scaling their backend servers to provide a seamless experience. However, on the night of the ban, their download numbers went off the chart. He said that many top influencers have also joined Roposo after the ban move.
Roposo had over 50 billion users prior to the ban, which increased to around 70 million in a couple of days. Now an average user spends around 40 minutes over the app prior to 20-23 minutes.
Currently, Roposo is witnessing 12 million videos created daily by four million creators.
The Tiger Global-backed startup is now helping other apps to build its own community. “We have Roposo software development kit (SDK) that we are sharing with various apps to help them build their own communities,” Saxena added.
This collaboration will help communities follow Roposo and Glance. The platform is all set to share its SDK’s with a popular e-commerce and healthcare platform.
According to Saxena, there are 300 million smartphones in the country, and he wants to see Roposo in all of them.
He also wants Roposo to go global and compete against big players. “Since Glance has quite a presence in southeast Asia, I believe it will be better to start from there,” he added. In 2019, InMobi's Glance acquired Roposo to add more vernacular content. Glance is present in over 100 million Indan users and helps Roposo gain more views and users.