Does Mobile Only strategy point to lack of Design Thinking?

The runaway success of Indian e-commerce show is driven by the single biggest attraction of hefty discounts available almost on all products! More than any other value proposition of e-commerce such as more choices, convenience, 24×7 availability, payment options and faster deliveries, the Indian customer was lured to e-commerce by the sheer scope for discounts she would not get elsewhere! The intense competition over market share among the e-commerce players ensured that there is always a counter offer for any blockbuster offer from one player. The eternal discount chasing customer is smart enough to sense this opportunity to compare prices of every item on offer with other vendors and settle on the maximum discount offer. While this was the modus operandi of the average online buyer, e-commerce players were sweating out on how to better their offer by attempting to do enormous scales that would only push their quest for profitability farther and farther.

Gme Changer or - Image_1As the dog fight continues to grab market share, e-commerce players are trying to outdo one another by introducing newer business models and innovations; the latest being Mobile Only format. Though there have been many successful experiments that defined the online buying culture in India such as Cash on Delivery, easy hassle free returns and EMIs, the latest experiment’s success is not pronounced yet, while many of the digital enthusiasts are upbeat about it.

Sorry, Mobile Only -Image_2Here comes the Mobile Only strategy!  While all the arguments for Mobile Only strategy evangelize the potential of the native app technology and innumerable values it promises to the marketer, an honest assessment of the anticipated compromises on the side of the customer is yet to come i.e what possibilities it takes away from the customer in order to cut short longer sales cycle.  Ironically, the deterrents for marketers to sell more are also the very value drivers for the consumers to buy more!

What is undisclosed about the real motive behind the Mobile Only strategy? Is it just Customer apathy?

During the years Indian e-commerce players took their baby steps to entice the buyers, this space also spawned innumerable deal aggregators and price comparison sites in empowering the value hunting customer to gleefully snap the best deals in the online space because of customer’s sheer capability to compare and choose across multiple vendors offering products of same specification. While online customers enjoyed this newfound freedom and capability, e-commerce players dreaded this unfettered nature of competition. This had made e-commerce players’ life a nightmare and the only possibility to woo customers was to settle for lowest price and provide faster delivery – both demanded extreme back-end efficiency and truckloads of money to operate at wafer thin margins; if not at loss.  Every e-commerce vendor had been eagerly looking for an effective way to fortify his customer from being weaned away by a better offer from competition. In these circumstances some enthusiasts find the Mobile Only format a perfect antidote for limiting customer’s newfound capability.   Lets look at how the Mobile Only format plays out!

  • In a Mobile Only format, the ease and speed of operation make the customer blind to the loss of the market options- i.e. to compare and weigh the market offers and to arrive at his maximum discounted vendor decision!
  • Deprived of option to compare the customer would be less confused about product choices with other competing products – the bliss every marketer longs for.
  • Customer decision cycle will be relatively short and quick compared to an open market situation like many players offering competing and comparable products as in the case of web.

Thus, effectively marketers are trying to cage customers to the controlled environment of their app and subtly cut off customer from the open market and invisibly condition and constrict his buying behavior for the benefit of the marketer, hoping that customer would fall in place as per their design!

However, what boggles the mind is the unpredictability as to how the customer would react to this stealth move by marketers!

The Mobile Only format yet to sink into the customer mind!

Hostile UX- Image_3
The inevitability of Mobile Only customer experience

Despite all hype around personalized content spiced with data analytics, the user experience remains the single largest bottleneck for going Mobile Only format. A large section of online users, especially those who have access to PC still consider viewing the products on large screens and doing one’s own market study before placing orders. A lot of online buying is driven by such consumer behavior born out of web format capability, but this turns out to be a huge challenge in Mobile Only format as SEOs are still at nascent levels in indexing app pages effectively to provide actionable comparison. Moreover for the user it becomes quite tricky to compare different sites considering the smaller screen of mobile device, while for the marketer app based approach opens up plethora of possibilities. That brings us to the cross roads in deciding how to navigate between marketer opportunities versus customer centricity?

The behavioral profile of online buyer and the Mobile Only format – a case of mismatch?

  • One of the main characteristics of online buyer is his appetite for best deals with maximum discounts available across vendors.
  • He also derives satisfaction that the deal is actually the best by comparing it with other offers. Therefore he is a value hunter and much less brand loyal.
  • Similarly, the app only promotions may not entice the buyer as buyer may feel the buying experience to be incomplete without going through this essential buying process or may remain non impulsive to respond to a targeted notification in the app.
  • The idea of enhancing personalized buying experience and brand building may be misplaced here, as there is a mismatch between vendor offering and customer expectation.
  • Majority of the mobile Internet users have been using online buying just recently and are yet to realize the compromises they have to make while on a Mobile Only format. Eventually they would conclude that the benefits of web may outweigh those of the Mobile format.
  • When the buyer realizes that marketers are effectively limiting the possibilities of the buyer, the disenchantment may lead to a lot of anguish in the minds of customer and eventually she may look beyond Mobile format.

While we have so much pointers to customers’ buying process already on the table, a complete disregard to customer behavior and expectation will have serious implications in winning a pie from the increasingly discretionary customer participation. On the one hand all the leading e-commerce players claim that 70% to 80% of their total orders come through their mobile platform; on the other hand they admit that 25% of these orders are originally discovered in PC platform and the mobile platform was used only at the clinching stage of order execution. Hence ignoring this huge market will be destroying the value they have hopefully awaited over the years.

Thus, only time will unfold whether Mobile Only format is a game changer in delivering value or a big value destroyer? The early reports suggest that Myntra had mixed response to their app only strategy. Interestingly Myntra’s parent Flipkart has put on hold Flipkart’s app only format originally scheduled from 1 September 2015. In the just concluded Big Billion Day sale in October 2015, Flipkart continued the web format and was heavily promoting the app platform by offering app exclusive launches and additional discounts on app based purchases indicating that despite all the best efforts to push consumers to app only format there is considerable volume coming from web format and marketers cannot ignore consumer preferences.

Going by Flipkart’s main competitor Snapdeal’s founder & CEO Kunal Bahl’s admission, Myntra’s app only strategy has greatly helped Snapdeal’s fashion business ever since Myntra shut down the website from May 15, 2015.   Is Myntra’s case a straw in the wind vis-a-vis the Mobile Only strategy? Industry is watching this space very keenly for more signals!

If Mobile Only is overkill, what is the right balance?

Given the growth of Indian Internet users at YoY growth rate of 32%, the 375 million users (as per IAMAI November 2015) augur well for e-commerce players. More than 60% of these 375 million users are mobile Internet users and the share of mobile Internet users are set to grow at faster rate given the continuous reduction in smart phone prices and more and more 3G & 4G network availability. Apparently, this paradigm shift in net access point very much endorses the idea of going Mobile First strategy. However the Mobile Only strategy is self-inflicting to all categories of products especially for high involvement category products. Categories those are low involvement and completely transaction based and used frequently such as taxi hailing services, bill payment services, travel booking sites, event ticket booking and restaurant services may have a case to go Mobile Only at the risk of losing a small portion of their business, as even those category demands multi channel access points simply because of heterogeneous customer behavior.

Mobile Only, does it sound lack of Design Thinking?

According to IDEO’s President and CEO; “Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Where does Mobile Only falls short in integrating needs of consumer and requirements of business with possibilities of technology?

Understand your customer really well: There are many reasons cited for going Mobile Only such as better maintainability, cost savings, huge data mining capability which in turn can power data analytics driven marketing functions like greater segmentation, contextual targeting, user engagement and rapid personalization at scale. While all these are the possibilities for the marketer to embrace the new format, the same possibilities turns out to negate the possibilities of the consumer that is essential for a sustainable growth of ecommerce category. Mobile Only enthusiasts seems to be missing the plot by ignoring customer decision journeys to understand what motivates people and what puts them off and apparently loses opportunities for creating delightful experiences.

Empathize your customer with customer advocacy: While more and more businesses are waking up to the real world business need of ‘empathy’ mapping by putting the customer at the center of problem solving equation, the Mobile Only format looks highly skewed towards the marketer. Apparently we are still not finding a holistic reason for Mobile Only format apart from the ulterior motive of customer confinement, rather born out of customer apathy or total disregard for customer preferences. Building this wide gap requires rallying customer advocacy and customer centric empathy across all functions of business to deliver value and keep customer experience as the most important metric.

Device Option- Image 4Design to delight: Instead of Mobile only format, to fully capitalize rapidly growing net users the e-commerce players should repurpose all the touch points rather than limiting to only mobile touch points. Marketers should offer all options of net access points including web along with mobile, with all screen options and continuously reexamine the new touch points of value creation.

It is very important to explore all the digital channels for effective customer outreach when we are talking about bringing in all the 375 million net users to meaningful online purchases. A deep understanding of customer experience across all channels is just the starting block of the long process. To assume that customer’s interaction with a brand can be effectively managed only through an app (in an app only ecosystem as envisioned by Mobile Only enthusiasts) seems like an incomprehensive view as customers preference to multiple digital channels such as web & mobile advertising, email, search engines, social media and video are increasingly playing a decisive role in customers decision journey.   To capture the multiple touch points of customer interactions every e-commerce company should aspire to capture a comprehensive view of its customers, by implementing mature systems for collecting and organizing those deep insights. It is all the more important for ecommerce vendors of high involvement categories to provide a feel of the product through multiple and large visual interactions that is closer to actual physical experience to reassure the expectations of the product to user. Such affirmative and inclusive measures would increase the adoption of ecommerce at even faster rate.

The need is to remain attuned to customer decision journeys and understand how to use new capabilities to serve customers better. This is possible when marketers prioritize to understand each step of customer’s purchasing journey and design and deliver best experience across all formats. Every marketer’s goal should be to continuously discover efficient frontiers of value delivery without undermining superior user experience essential for occupying the numero uno position in customers’ mind space.

How coming to Valley fast forwarded us 10x

Noida/India, March 2015:

Typical startup scene. Cash running out, existing product not scaling fast enough to excite Series A investors and the worse part, need to let go some awesome employees who believed in our vision & promises. For a few nights I couldn’t sleep properly in the hope of getting that “one” idea which could give us a new direction and the enthusiasm to keep going.

During all this time what fuelled me was the support of my co-founder & the core team, blessings of family & friends and most importantly, my mentor & a few friends who I could call anytime to discuss all of my silly ideas. Finally, one day, after tons of calls and brainstorming sessions, it happened! The idea of the new product was finally clear in my head, so clear that I could visualise it. Even though it was 3AM, I couldn’t sleep. I woke up, made myself a cup of cappuccino and started drawing the wireframes. I was done by 4AM but still could not sleep. The thought of discussing the new direction with the team and wondering what their reaction would be, made my brain explode with excitement!

Fast forward 2 weeks, the team had loved the idea and started working on the first MVP (for non startup folks that means minimum viable product)). The idea was to build a curated YouTube videos app with the possibility of creating memes and doodles to help discover the best online videos. We launched the MVP on Android and got fairly good user traction, keeping us excited about the opportunity-

Growth chart for our first MVP

Apr 2015:

Though the investors were excited about our new idea, the hitch was users were not sticking to the app (see the downward trend on graph). We knew that the video space is promising but somehow the trigger to use our app everyday was not strong enough. We had two options at that point- keep pursuing the investors and burning money in acquiring new users or go back to the whiteboard (again) and build something which users would truly love. We didn’t have much cash left and since investors were showing interest it was hard to let go & get back to the drawing board.

However after an internal discussion we decided that we would build again. It was a difficult decision given that ‘getting funded’ sounds a lot sexier than ‘let’s take a crack again’. But for us the choice was easy, because we always wanted to build something which millions of people would want to use everyday. So I went back to my mentors & they helped us quickly raise a small round from some awesome investors. That gave us enough bandwidth to focus on building the right product.

This is how a “Vid” looks like. It also plays a 10 sec voiceover.Back to the whiteboards. Back to basics. We spent lot of time discussing how can we really solve video discovery problem. I also read Nir Eyal’s “Hooked” and we built the product chapter by chapter, brainstorming on key concepts like “Trigger, Action, Reward and Investment”. By June 15th we had an iOS version ready, I felt that the trigger to open the app everyday was still kind of weak but in the process we had invented a new way to quickly discover videos, we called our invention a “Vid”. The app looked neat and concept of Vid gave the app a visually attractive & differentiated feel. With the new app I started meeting friends who could give us feedback.

Jun 2015:

I met Ashish Tulsian of Posist who had visited Valley recently and showed him the product. He loved the concept but he advised me to visit valley and try to get early adopters there. We both knew that for social products & apps, India is a “follower” market. Although there are few exceptions like Whatsapp but in a price sensitive country where SMS/MMS were not free, Whatsapp came in as a Messiah and gave unlimited messaging for free (or at least at a fraction of cost). So for us the logical thing was to try finding influencers in Valley rather than trying to ride against the tide in India.

The decision was made. I was coming to Silicon Valley. Thanks to Wipro (my only employer till date) I had a Business Visa ready & was ready to fly any day. If it was not that meeting with Ashish, I might have still been procrastinating the US trip.

San Francisco (Bay area), 20th June 2015:

When I came to valley I literally had nothing apart from my old iPhone 5 and one among many apps installed in it, named “Vidzy” (that’s our app). Two of the other important apps were “Meetup” and “Eventbrite”. My first concern was to check if people here will find the idea unique and useful. What if they say, “Oh we use this and this app for this. Why should I use Vidzy”?

But that did not happen. In fact people loved the concept and started giving me their email IDs (because the app was still in beta and not live on App store). In a month I collected about 100 email IDs. I started going to more events and started meeting lot more people, one such event was at InMobi’s office (the unicorn startup from India). Guys at InMobi loved the app and asked us to present as a potential partner in their Miip launch event.

There you go, within a month of coming to US, I was talking about Vidzy at Fort Mason center (the same place where Facebook’s F8 developer conference happened) among hundreds of industry veterans from mobile and advertising industry. I couldn’t have thought about all this exposure within a month, if I was not in Silicon Valley.

Presenting Vidzy at Fort Mason during Miip Launch event

July/Aug 2015:

We started getting interest from some investors (some of who got in touch after the InMobi event), but for us key was to find out the right product market fit. We still did not have a strong trigger remember? Our beta users loved the concept but not so much the use case- few of them got back to me saying, “when will you enable personal video sharing?”. I was not sure about personal video sharing because we still believed that YouTube video discovery is a big enough problem to solve.

One day during some event I got an opportunity to pitch to Rick Marini. I had only 2 minutes. Rick being a pioneer in social consumer startups who has invested in companies like Reditt and Snapchat, his point of view mattered a lot. His reaction- “well the app and concept is good, but building on top of YouTube means they can shut you down any day and also this to me looks like a Vitamin not a Pain killer”. Those words got stuck in my head. I knew that something has to change, but what was that? How can we make this a pain killer?

August 2015:

After my meeting with Rick, I started looking for answers and connecting dots. Is personal video sharing a bigger problem? I starting thinking about it from the perspective of someone who record lot of videos everyday. Who is that user? And suddenly it occur to me that my brother makes lot of videos (of his daughter) and sends them over Whatsapp everyday. I decided to speak to him about the new use case.

To give a little background my brother is not a heavy app user, he owns a Windows phone and keeps a low profile on Facebook. The only way for him to share his daughter’s video is Whatsapp and that too reaches a limited list of his friends and family members. When I asked him whether he would like to use an app where he could share his daughter’s video with anyone who would like to watch, he immediately said “Yes”.

This gave me a huge boost, I called up my co-founders in India and we had a good 2 hour discussion on the use-case. We all agreed that it made lot of sense. We were still not too sure whether it was “the” pain which needed a pain killer. There was only one way to find it out- ask people! I started checking out important events on Meetup that week and found a “mobile innovation” related event in Mountain View. I still did not have the app with the feature built but the concept was there with YouTube videos, I decided to test the new hypothesis.

I showed the app to the first guy I met in the event, and told him the use case. He started staring at me and stared at me for good 10 seconds, I felt as if I had stolen his idea (that’s typical valley, I thought). It turned out that indeed I had stolen his idea, but he was glad that a solution for his problem was now out there. This guy said he has tons of videos of his kid but couldn’t find a decent app which could take those videos to interested people. Suddenly I felt like I was dreaming, for me that was like being closest to see a “product market fit”. During next half hour of the event, I didn’t talk about my product, instead that gentleman did all the talking on my behalf 😀.

Past few weeks:

Once the idea sank in, we discussed the opportunity and realised that the potential was huge. One key insight that emerged from these discussions was that the people could relate to the problem of videos sitting in the gallery and later getting deleted because of low storage space. We did a simple math: 1 Billion smartphones= at least a billion videos waiting to come out, multiply that by videos which will be recorded in future! Does it sound like a billion dollar opportunity? Hell ya 😍!

We got so excited that by 3rd week of August the test app was ready (we had to add the “record+upload” feature). Now an important decision was whether to keep both YouTube and personal videos in the app or focus sorely on the personal video space. We discussed & chose to avoid ambiguity about the core objective of the app & removed YouTube video sharing.

I’m staying at an Airbnb place in Valley, so I get to meet new visitors every other day. I used the opportunity and got some of them as beta users. They immediately related to our new proposition of sharing personal videos. All of them had a couple videos sitting on their phones that they had not done anything about and they promptly uploaded & shared them via Vidzy. This was a big confidence boost. Their reaction told us that maybe we finally had the ‘Pain Killer’ we had been wanting to make.

House where I stayed during first two months in Valley- Foundersbase

Surprisingly, no one owns the “video” trigger yet. YouTube is for professionals, Facebook/Twitter focus on brand/viral videos (to make money) while Instagram and Vine videos are too short to appeal to consumers beyond professional bloggers & artists. We realised that with our app we can own that trigger- i) Record/upload and share videos instantly (main trigger).

ii) Make video sharing fun through “Vid” concept (external trigger).

iii) Capture & share a video instead of a photo because, well… now you can! (ability).

To understand above terminologies do check out Nir Eyal’s awesome Slidesharedeck.

What next?

Our app went live last week and some of my friends and our beta users have started uploading and sharing their videos. Our idea is to grow the app organically through word of mouth and see if the network effect kicks in. We are working on few ideas like launching it on Product Hunt, showing it to the tech community during Techcrunch disrupt (21st Sep) and an offline event for students at UC, Berkeley. The idea is to meet our first 100 users face to face and learn from each other during these activities. Will keep on updating the results and learnings on Medium (please follow me if you are interested).

How Vidzy App looks (GIF)

For startups outside valley (be in US, India or elsewhere) who are contemplating their visit to valley, I would like to share a few pointers:

  1. If you have a global consumer product, don’t even think twice. Come as soon as possible. The learnings which I got here in 2 months, are worth more than my whole startup life’s experience (3 years). In addition to tech savvy consumers, the other thing which helps is extremely high living cost which pushes you out of your comfort zone 🙂 There is no option here, but to move fast or… die!
  2. Do not worry about leads or network. If you have a good product, people are more than willing to listen. DO NOT come without a prototype as people are bored of listening to ideas (every Tom, Dick and Harry here claims to be an entrepreneur). You need something to differentiate yourself, jump the queue and get noticed.
  3. Getting investors just on the basis of an idea and product is next to impossible. This is a mature market and an innovator’s market, so you can not really say that we are “Uber or Airbnb for India 😛”. To raise funds you must show a real product-market fit with real traction unless you have a well connected network (which I’m assuming you won’t have if you are reading this).

I will keep on writing more stuff as things progress, including our app experiment results, user response & off course funding status 😀.. You can ask me any specific questions on the comment section (if you have). I will try to answer them.

You can find Vidzy on AppStore. If you are interested in reaching out to me, please email rabi(at)

How SignEasy got featured in an Apple campaign (and almost screwed it up!)

SignEasy was a two person operation in 2010, the year we launched. And bootstrapping meant a lot of pressure first on gaining and then on maintaining traction; there was, and still is, no safety jacket. If we have no money to pay salaries and run operations, there is no company or product, period. But we have been lucky, and successful enough to be profitable.

Today we have grown into a 15 member team, and SignEasy is now among the most successful apps on iOS and Android.

As more and more paperwork moves to the cloud, we are extremely well placed to help individuals and SMBs use eSignatures, and in turn, save paper and a lot of time and money in the process.

What we think about a lot

Innovation and customer happiness, that’s our mantra. An app like SignEasy is passing through a quality check every time a customer uses it. Which means any and all feedback is in real time, giving us the data we need to keep innovating and to keep the customer happy.

Our almost continuous updates and fixes to leverage Apple’s iOS strengths (such as our iOS extension and Touch-ID support), and to bring more capabilities to customers is due to this ruthless focus on user experience.

The mail from Apple

These priorities are what I believe got us noticed by Apple.

Early April this year, something popped up in my inbox. It was a mail from Apple’s marketing agency about featuring SignEasy on their upcoming iPad summer campaign. Needless to say, we were overjoyed. Though branding with an Apple ad was one reason for our excitement, there was a significant business angle as well — iOS accounts for 85% of our paying users, and Apple’s early adopters, the people who appreciate a well designed product, had always been our own champions. Apple wanted secrecy, they specified that no major changes should be introduced to the UI and product screens throughout the campaign, which would have made the ad rendering dated.

We agreed, and complied within a 48 hour window. We couldn’t control our excitement. After all, this was the ecosystem we had been nurturing for some time. This recognition was the ultimate feather in our cap. It was all about that important word we kept hearing about in startup conferences and funding events all around the world — validation. Then we went back to our work mode with fingers crossed, looking forward to hear back from them in the near future.

Until it all went wrong.

It was the 4th of May. A routine update for iOS went wrong and our users were unable to sign documents. We were devastated. We apologized to our customers immediately, and by May 6, had expedited a fix that went live that very night, restoring full service back to our users. It had taken a day and a night of non-stop work, but we had fixed the issue, and we heaved a sigh of relief.


Several users were happy with the way we handled this


Little did our users know that we were running against time, as May 7 was the day the iPad campaign went live. A lot of interest would be heading in our direction and needless to say, it wouldn’t have been very impressive if the app had been down on that very day.

Behind the scenes

The point I want to make here is that this experience again underlined to us the uniqueness of the lean, nimble startup model that we follow, despite being a five year old bootstrapped company. Our users have never had a reason not to trust us, and neither did Apple. As partners and owners of the ecosystem we are part of, it was imperative not to disappoint them, and we are proud we did not. The work that we put in to get the app working for our users again, the small colors and buttons we test and change to enhance usability, the late night frustrations with pizza delivery — these are things our users will never see, and that is by design.

It makes us proud that all this behind the scenes work reflects on the little screen in our users’ hands, and that they enjoy it enough to say that they love it.

Head over to this Youtube video where SignEasy’s ease of eSignature is being showcased by Apple

and other apps listed in the small business section by

1-PIQFLWGxQ3VOu82GyIdFkQPart 2 of this post will talk about the actual gains that we had by being part of the Apple campaign. There are going to be metrics, and a lot of takeaways for app store citizens like us. So stay tuned!

Guest Post by Sunil Patro, Founder & CEO, SignEasy

“Breeze”, a Mobile App which allows to connect easily with the Customer Care of 100+ companies

Are you tired of listening to long voice (IVR) menus and repeatedly entering the same options every time you call your customer care, Breeze might be the solution you are looking for. Breeze allows you to “browse” the IVR of 100+ companies across 20+ categories without even calling and upon choosing to call an IVR option, the app will dial all the intermediate IVR options for the user.

The app also allows users to ‘bookmark’ their most frequently used IVR options for any company. It also remembers the most recently called IVR option (just like the way a mobile phone remembers phone calls) and this facility can be used to call the same IVR option in a single step.

Earlier this month, I had a telephonic chat with Manjunath Hanasi, co-founder of Breeze on the story behind Breeze, their current customers and future roadmap.

Could you give our readers some background about Breeze and how you started the venture.

People say “necessity is the mother of all inventions”. So is the story about Breeze.

My washing machine, IFB Senorita Plus, that was working flawlessly for almost 6 years broke down suddenly as if it had a major heart attack. I wanted to call IFB service center immediately, however I didn’t have their number handy. I searched the Internet for their number and called them up. My call went to IVR as usual and I listened patiently and intently to the their options and chose the correct one. Finally after choosing 2 IVR options, I got connected to the operator. I spoke to the person who was very courteous and I thought my washing machine will be repaired quickly. However, due to some communication problem between IFB and local service center, I had to call IFB service center for almost 10 times within a span of 2 weeks. Every time, I called them up I was getting irritated by the IVR interaction.

At the same time, my Sony Bravia TV, started showing aging issues. Again I didn’t have their number handy, searched again and called them up. However, this time the IVR was even more horrible. I had to listen to IVR for eternity before I arrived at the right option i.e. Bravia TV related issues. I had to call Sony 3 to 4 times before my TV got repaired. I was hating IVR interaction by that time.

After the above incidents, I started thinking there must be a better way to connect with companies. I discussed this among my friends and colleagues. Out of these discussions, came out “Breeze”, a mobile App to easily connect to companies

Please tell us a bit about what your product does and the response that you have got from your users.

Our product “Breeze” presents the IVR in a visual, browsable fashion. People can traverse the IVR menu visually rather than listening to and dialing an option. In this way, you don’t have to listen intently to the IVR menus. This saves 60-70% of time and money while you connect to your desired option.

Breeze allows users to bookmark their frequently used IVR options and gives quick access to the recent IVR options they called (just like phone contacts). In this way, people can reach their desired options in “one touch”. This is a huge time and frustration saver.

Breeze also displays whether the number is toll-free or charged. Additionally, it also shows the working times of the IVR.

In addition to connecting to IVR, Breeze also supports SMS, web and API connectivity to the companies.

Few screenshots of the product. Breeze has companies across 20+ Categories


User response has been tremendous to say the least. We have got some really wonderful users and they love the App. Here are some of the comments from the Google play store.


Are you also partnering with these companies or do you intend to them in the future? Do you provide any analytics to the companies?

We intend to partner with companies in the future. With partnership and deep integration with the companies, we can take user experience to a grand new level.

By partnering with us, companies can greatly benefit in areas like customer experience, call costs per customer, customer feedback and revenue generation through offers.

Analytics is one of major offerings for the companies. Since we provide last-mile connectivity for the customer care experience, we are able to provide feedback that can’t be acquired by any other means.

We provide analytics about the user experience and feedback, location based analytics and anonymous competitive analytics.

Breeze also supports companies to show non-intrusive offers in their company menu. We provide analytics about the view and clicks.

Can you tell us your user acquisition strategy?

Initially, we were acquiring users in an organic manner with word-of-mouth. We used Facebook to spread the word among our friends. Later, we have used channels like public-relations, speaking and demonstrating in conferences, online startup websites, app bloggers and customer service forums.

Going ahead, we want to tap content marketing and social media channels even more.

What kind of business model you have in mind?

Breeze is “free for users and freemium for companies”.

We list companies on Breeze without any charges. We charge companies based on premium features like showing offers, notifications to users, analytics and customization/white labelling.

What kind of results are your customers able to see after using your product?

Users are enjoying the product. They are able to cut down on time and money while connecting to companies. One behaviour I saw from the users surprised me “lot ot people are browsing the companies to see what’s there in the IVR”. Would you ever do this by calling up companies IVR? Never.

Customers (Companies) are able to see feedback for all the customer care interactions, cost optimization and improvement in customer experience.

How does the roadmap for Breeze look like in the next few months?

We are adding many more companies to the platform in categories like telecom, banking and insurance. Additionally we are working on an integration platform to simplify integration with companies.

We have launched Breeze Android App for few months now. Our iOS version is getting ready.

We are building self-service portal for companies. Using this portal, companies would be able to push offers, and see feedback and analytics in real time.

We are also working with cloud IVR providers to integrate their IVR platform with Breeze.

What are some of your biggest challenges?

Keeping up with IVR changes and ensuring that the IVR is up-to-date has been the biggest challenge. This would be minimized to great extent once we start having deep integration with the companies.

Apart from that, since Breeze platform is essentially an enterprise product, sales process on the customer side (companies) usually takes long time. Meeting the appropriate person, keeping in touch and following up during this time is a big challenge.

Screeny — Delete space consuming screenshots easily!

So that you can make more space for your photos and memories.

Being a designer, one is always looking for inspirations, working on ideas, trying and testing various versions of designs, giving feedback to the team, and all of this results in an unattended collection of… screenshots!

Using a 16GB iPhone a year and a half back, I asked a question on twitter “Is there an easy way to delete all my screenshots?” All answers led to a long process of connecting to iPhoto and filtering the photos and screenshots, primarily because iOS did not allow delete access to the core camera roll. That however changed with iOS8 and thats when we built our own app called Screeny. (that too in Swift!)

Screeny’s sole purpose is to find screenshots and give the user an ability to delete them easily. Why do I delete screenshots? Because it was taken at one point of time — to share, review or point out something and then forgotten over time.

Version 1

From a design standpoint we wanted to keep it super simple. The value addition to someone using Screeny, is not about how many screenshots have we found out, but how much space we can save for you. Which means more space for your photos (of cats) and memories with friends and family.

Version 2.0
Version 2.0

The next part is reviewing the screenshots themselves. You can select and delete them all! That said, there are times when you are working on a project and need them as references or for reviews/feedback. So we added in filter criterias which allow you to select all screenshots, except for the last 15 or 30 days. Shake to unselect all? YES!


Could we have given the ability to delete all photos and not just screenshots? Yes. But I did not want that. Somehow photos are more precious to me. We know photos consume space and the space in your phone is limited. So we subtly indicate, that there are photos which are older than 3 months and are consuming xxx(GBs?) space. So you can take a backup and delete those photos if you wish.


Screeny is available in the AppStore and we would love you to check it out and give us your feedback. If you think some of your friends need this app do share it with them as well ☺

Guest Post by Sonaal Bangera, EffectWorks.

CultureAlley: Simplifying Language Learning

CultureAlley combines the 2 most addictive online habits – Social Media and Gamification, to help people learn foreign languages. It attacks boring, generic, and old school pedagogy in education and turns it on its head. It turns the ridiculous number of hours spent on social media, and the web, into a language lesson. CultureAlley was founded by Nishant Patni and Pranshu Bhandari in 2012. 


When I joined Microsoft in Shanghai, the company helpfully offered me 60 hours of 1-1 tutoring so I could learn Mandarin. I was excited to be able to learn the language. My tutor was decent, her English was better than average, and she had good structured lessons she followed through. However, it didn’t prove very useful for me – even after spending 2 years in Shanghai, I couldn’t manage anything more than being able to give driving directions to the taxi driver, and of course the usual greetings.

One of the biggest challenges was that even though the words and phrases that I was being taught were commonplace and important, I didn’t have to use most of them at my workplace or during other interactions with Chinese people. So I kept forgetting those words, and since I didn’t have a way to learn the words my program managers and developers used at workplace, my language skills never went beyond the survival level. And finally, I gave up even trying.

This has been the experience of many language learners, language teaching is not personalized, and it doesn’t take your context and interest into consideration. This means high dropout rate and diminished utility of such teaching.

Nishant Patni, founder of CultureAlley, narrates a similar experience when he had to spend time in China, which prompted him to look for better ways of language learning. He started CultureAlley, along with his co-founder, Pranshu Bhandari, in 2012 to offer a better way of language learning.

CultureAlley makes language learning simple, by personalizing and contextualizing the learning.
The way it does it is by taking the learners’ social media feeds (Facebook, Twitter etc.) and replacing parts of it into the language that the user is trying to learn. E.g. If your friends are saying “Hi” on Facebook it gets replaced with “ni hao” and you get to listen, learn, and collect these new words by tapping on them. Everything is progressive to the learner’s level. Every new word you learn, you get rewarded (think Candy Crush) and you keep competing with your Facebook friends on how many words you learn! The same experience is extended across the web using their Chrome browser plugins.
Learning is supplemented with bite-sized interactive lessons and fun games.

So you may be learning Chinese while browsing Facebook, Wikipedia, and TechCrunch, following your regular lifestyle, and learning words that are relevant for you.



The Product

In addition to having regular features of any language learning (audio-visual language lessons, interactive practice games, dictionaries, Q&A forums, online tutoring), CultureAlley is the only major player to utilize web browsing, Social media and gamification techniques to teach languages. This way, they are much more immersive and personalized.

They have Facebook based web offerings for Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, and English for Latin American Speakers. And they have recently launched an Android App that teaches English to Japanese speakers. Another Android App to teach English to Indians (Hindi speakers) is slated to be out very soon. .


They make the learning process:

  1. Personalized to the learner’s interests – users learn the words and phrases that they are interested in talking about
  2. Highly contextual – You discover new words in a conversation – knowing exactly when to use them
  3. Absolutely real-time – Every time you go to the app you have fresh content to learn with!
  4. Gamified and fun – Everything you do you are rewarded for and you keep competing with your Facebook friends on your learning goals!


CultureAlley uses a combination of Social media APIs and an intersection of Machine Translation algorithms and human curated data-sets to personalize the learning experience of all the learners. These are used in the Facebook apps, the web-apps, the Browser Plugins and the mobile apps.

They use their own text-to-speech engine to provide speech recognition features to provide feedback on accents and user pronunciation on their mobile apps. There are several games that users play in a candy-crush sort of a journey including a cool Karaoke-like tool that allows learners to learn a language while watching movies, and YouTube videos. The mobile app also has a cool live chat functionality – which allows CultureAlley to push interesting content (including interactive video quizzes) to learners everyday and allows learners to in-turn ask questions to English tutors on a live chat.


Product Development

The product team consists of young engineers from NITs and IIT-B, focusing on technology stack and features.

Maintaining a high level of quality on the content that they create as they scale, is a key challenge for them. They rely on quality control processes in house and work with a bunch of language professionals who do both the content creation and testing – they have a community of ~500 vetted language professionals who teach at CultureAlley as well.

CultureAlley has a very interesting talent strategy for their software development which helps them execute well, even while based out of a tier-2 city like Jaipur:

  • They are located next door to NIT Jaipur so they get good talent access
  • Founder is a hands-on technologist, so technology leadership has not been a challenge for them
  • Finding UX/Design talent is hard, but the founding team has a designer/artist in it
  • Founders spend part of the year in San Francisco where they have created their eco-system to access local design talent, get quick prototyping, and user testing

Being distributed for part of the year doesn’t create problem for them, Skype and Google Docs are used for collaboration all the time, with DropBox for document sharing.


The global market for digital English language learning products reached $1.8 billion in 2013, which is less than 3% of total English language learning market. Global learning (all languages) is around $115B. 1 in 5 in the world are learning English right now. So we are talking of some extremely large market sizes here.

CultureAlley has about 340K users, using its web, facebook, and mobile products, growing at a rapid pace of 25% month on month. They target 3 segments (#1 being their primary target):

  1. Working professionals learning new language (job prospects) – 60% of the market
  2. Students to get better grades
  3. Biz travelers, travel enthusiasts

Their web offering is free, while the mobile app is freemium where the users have to pay to unlock advanced levels (pricing varies based on different language pairs) . They also offer Skype based tuitions and doubt-clearing sessions through a large selection of online tutors.

There are some worthy competitors in this arena – DuoLingo (good mobile interface and gamified learning approach), Rosetta Stone (focused on the US market, old school approach to language learning), OpenEnglish (Latin America based English teaching player, focused on Video Conferencing based group lessons). However, CultureAlley feels its contextual and social media based approach to language learning is highly complementary to most of the content focused players in the industry, providing ample partnership opportunities.


They are focused on the following for the next 12-18 months:

  • 10 different language pairs (language you want to learn, and the language that you know)
  • 4 different channels – Facebook, Browser-plugin, devices (iOS, android, wearable), Twitter based product
  • 1.5M users
  • Continued focus on design and usability of product

Their vision is to provide highly contextual learning, using video content (YouTube) as learning tool (similar to what they do to Facebook feeds), and create compelling content for wearable apps.

The Road Ahead

The language learning space is huge, and is ripe for disruption because of the old school teaching methodology of current products, and CultureAlley has a compelling solution. This seems to be a great opportunity for them to grow very big very fast and capture a large market segment. However, they need to be careful about the moves large publishers (entrenched, largely offline players in English language learning space like Pearson) are making to co-opt the space – busuu (an online language learning company with 40M users) recently tied up with Pearson English to offer a standardized English assessment to its users, for example. This is also a space buzzing with startup activities and ample funding ($3.3M average valuation of 232 language learning startups according to AngelList).

CultureAlley products are compelling to use and their roadmap is rich and headed in the right direction. As they scale to more languages pairs, channels, and engagement techniques, future is very bright for them.


Need 9 months to get baby out

One of the pressures and challenges of working on products is to get it out soon – the release. But I often recollect one of the leaders that I have worked with saying “need 9 months to get baby out”.


What’s the right time for a product release – Some Considerations?

Build for market, not a customer


Remember products are not built for one customer, its built for several of them, for a market. I highlight this as especially in India, we have abundant  services companies and people with great experience driving innovations and solutions for one customer, and often the release time for such delivery can be done in a shorter duration as we are working towards a specific requirement set.  Its different to build it for a market or many customers in mind.

Enough research time to iterate


The other key aspect of building a product is to spend good time on researching the market, understanding user problems and figuring out what to build, before start building it. In certain cases it could also be some initial prototypes to get the thinking process going. Often this time is ignored when building products.

9 moms cannot make 9 babies in 1 month


By getting more people assigned is not the solution to get the products out faster, actually it could be counter productive as there may not be enough components that can be built parallel and also could result in confusion on co-ordination.

It’s not just about development

Many software products fail primarily because they put all the time and effort only in engineering and developing the product and do not plan for an effective early adoption and go to market (including pricing) launch time planning. They consider this as lesser important task and often consider this as a post product release activity. But the market readiness and go to market should be planned well ahead, and enough time to be allocated to early adoption and launch cycle.  The other aspect that gets ignored many a times is user empathy and design for user interaction and interface.

Focus on quality, differentiators


Bugs are fine in software, can be fixed is the typical attitude in software industry. But depending on the mission critical nature of the products, quality is going to be key criteria. Thorough testing and quality is an important part and while dates can be compromised, quality should not be compromised as the word spreads if its buggy. Get it out with good quality.


Many products compromise on features and differentiators, to deliver a product in time. This again can be dangerous in the current extremely competitive world.

So usually the right time of the release should have key focus on quality and differentiators.

Alpha, Beta….

We come across examples of products that get released to market without alpha, beta cycles – without being taken to first few customers or users to try out. This can be dangerous, inspite of the time pressures or the brutal confidence that you may have about your products and self testing, there should be time allocated for alpha and beta trials.

Rapid release cycles


The other side consideration here is that while products have to be planned, it can’t take too long as well. Many of the established players get into this syndrome where they spend too much time planning and laying it out but by the time the product comes out, the market is lost or captured by some one else. This is where agile methodology comes in handy. Products should be planned in such a way that there is minimum viable scope covered coming in from the research and there is agility built into cover a rapid release cycle post the first launch, where more enhancements can be planned, based on customer adoption.

So if you started reading the blog hoping to get the answer on the right time for a product release, sorry for disappointing you. But from my experience where I have been involved with enterprise software products that were built in 3 months, 6 months, 1.5 years, 3 years etc. , some of the above points were the learnings for the success or failure of the product. Plan time for the ideation/research, design, development, thorough testing, beta and GTM launch planning before getting your baby out…

Share your experience or other considerations that I may have missed here…

A Story of Mobile App. AutoCop, App That Will Make Your Auto Rickshaw Ride Pleasant

AutoCop Android App by ShimBi Labs. AutoCop is social awareness app that allows users to share their experiences of Auto Rickshaw ride with others. It helps a rider to channelize his frustration or good experience of Auto Rickshaw ride and share it on various social media platforms. We aim to facilitate people in India (including Auto Rickshaw drivers) to be more aware of the benefit achieved by accumulating the day­to­day service quality.

We interviewed Siddharth Deshmukh, Founder and CEO of ShimBi Labs. In this conversation, Siddharth explains about the idea behind the AutoCop App, how it can help to solve many of the problem today Auto Rickshaw riders as well as service providers face, his vision and much more…

How did the idea of AutoCop into being?

Early in life I use to use a lot of Auto Rickshaw, later once I bought my car naturally I stopped using them, but in recent for business, I was travelling across the country and sometimes I decided to use Auto Rickshaw. Whenever I am looking for Auto Rickshaw two things I experienced most prominently, it is likely that I will face either of these situations, refuses to go to destination or charges excess money. Earlier also it was the same experience, but this time, I decided to get to the root cause of it and decided to talk to stakeholders. Listen to what they say:

“There is no way that the situation is going to change unless the traffic police department take strict measures. An auto rickshaw wala (Auto­rickshaw operator) going to charge excess or refuse to go.”

Auto Rickshaw Wala
“For some destinations, I found it difficult to get passengers. On many occasions, I had to return without any passenger.”

“We are taking action against the errant drivers. But unless there is an active public participation the issue will remain the same”page1image18496page1image18656

I think there is an element of truth in each side, and every point of view needs to be answered after comprehensive study. Moreover, such study is only possible, if we have structured data, if not for all but the majority of such incidents.

So what is solution that you thought?

I think the solution lies in Big Data. We need to collect huge data if possible from users of Auto Rickshaw every time they use it. Once we have uniformly structured data from small Towns to Major Cities and Metropolitan Areas of India. Based on such structured data, It is possible to learn trends, generate heat maps and pinpoint some facts that need to investigate in great details.

For example in Pune at Magarpatta City many Auto Rickshaw Drivers are charging extra. In Navi Mumbai Auto, Rickshaw Drivers are refusing to go to Mumbai. Why because they have their own reasons, sometimes they are valid reason but not always. To take proper action and to find a sustainable solution needs large data, which can through insight and tell us many trends and facts.

How will you collect such data?

We at ShimBi Labs thought of addressing this problem. First step was to create one simple to use Mobile App. to capture user experiences and save them in uniform and structured format.

Then make it available to related Authorities, Auto Rickshaw Unions, NGOs, Data Scientist and Policy Makers. So that it can help making proper decisions and policies.

However, before we create this app. we were very clear on certain points.

1. This app is not for registering complaints.
2. This app is not for abusing anyone.
3. This app is to share your experience of auto rickshaw ride.
4. This app will gather user experience and help setting trends and heat maps.

So what should this App do?

1. Provide an easy way to capture the required data.
2. Data such as Auto Rickshaw number, time and location of the incident.
3. and exactly what happened such as Fare denied, Charge Extra, Meter Tempered and or everything was fine.
4. Provide some useful utilities such as virtual meter, route map etc.
5. Share your Auto Rickshaw ride experience with friends on Facebook and twitter So that is how AutoCop Android App took birth. Learn more about AutoCop App

Any examples of data and trend capture through AutoCop?

App is in very early stage so we are waiting for enough data. But following are few examples how it can through some insight information.

*These are just indicative figures

Example 1

In Pune we collect data:
Start Point: Laxmi Road Day: Wednesday Time: 7 pm Destination: Koregaon Park, Kalyani Nagar, Viman Nagar

Data was collected from 15 March to 18th March 2014

Above data clearly shows that it seems most of the time Auto Rickshaw on Lakshmi Road are reluctant to go to Koregaon Park, Kalyani Nagar, Viman Nagar or they over charge the passenger.

So find the solution to it, all stakeholders must find out real cause and proper solution to it.


Example 2

Start Point: Bangalore Railway Station
Day: All Days Time: 9 pm Destination: Any destination beyond 10 Km.


Data was collected from 10 February to 20th February 2014

Above data is indicating that most of the time Auto Rickshaw at Railways Station are overcharging passengers. Great number of such Passengers may be a tourist or temporary visitor.

In both examples reasons can be many but such systematic data (Geo tagged and time stamped) is very useful to start an investigation.

Any further decision based on such solid data will be of more effective.

Example 3

Here is another example of Profiling Auto Rickshaw Number.


These data will easily alert authorities to keep a regular check on these Auto Rickshaw Numbers. More details on what offends they are doing also can be obtained from data, including Geo location and Time.

What are the key execution challenges you have faced?

This complex task and unless active participation of people it is impossible to solve the problem. We request all stakeholders to help us. Spread awareness.

Auto Rickshaw transportation is going to stay here for long, and there is huge scope we can work together. If you share same thoughts and believe in this idea that it will work, some funding is welcome. Your suggestions are welcome, if anyone of you have some good idea, you are welcome to join our team.

Appiterate: Instant publishing & A/B testing on mobile apps using visual editor for iOS and Android apps

Product management and development teams have been using A/B Testing on the web to optimize the experience for users. However, doing A/B testing on mobile has been a challenge especially because the way native apps are deployed currently:

– Native apps are deployed via the marketplaces, making MVP and beta releases very difficult.

– The app stores, especially iTunes, has a review cycle which means apps are available download only after a period of time.

Therefore companies aren’t able to experiment as quickly or thoroughly as they are on the Web. Every app release is a gamble that relies on the assumption that every aspect of the release will appeal to the app’s audience. If it doesn’t, or if there’s a problem, filing an updated version of the app and having it reach the marketplace can take days or weeks.

Developers and product managers need to see how small changes affect engagement, retention, lifetimes value and, of course, monetization of their apps. AppIterate intends to solve this problem with their WYSIWYG A/B testing platform for native mobile apps. It allows app publishers to A/B test and iteratively optimize their designs/UX and functionality of their mobile apps to improve in app purchases, user engagement and conversion metrics. It also allows app publishers to run tests and deploy based on user segments and see real time conversion metrics.

Some of the main features of the app include Real Time A/B testing on native apps, using which developers can test new designs, copy, call-to-action buttons in real-time and push the winning version to all the users without pushing a new update to the app store. Feature Testing and Roll-back is another feature using which developers can test new Features, UX-flows etc during an app update process on a sample population. If the feature does well, deploy it to all of the users, otherwise roll-it back, all without pushing another update through the app store.


Many a times, small changes to the app are required, like a change in copy, change in phone number, increase/change in size/position of a button. The service also gives app-publishers, the ability to make these changes and push them to the users live without re-submitting the app to the app store. Segmentation lets you target a subset of your users based on the criteria defined by you. You can target users based on their OS version, activity, location or any other custom criteria defined by you. Thanks to WYSIWYG editor, even Marketers and Product Managers can create A/B tests easily without any knowledge of coding at all.

Mobile A/B Testing has seen a flurry of activities in the last few months. This includes startups with venture backing such as Apptimize, Swrve and Leanplum. Most of these allow publishers to do A/B testing on native apps using a web interface and get interesting analytics. Other rivals include Pathmapp and Bees & Pollen.  There also players such as BetaGlide which can also measure CPU and memory consumption of an app while it is running and can track it against an event.

Appiterate: Instant publishing & A/B testing on mobile apps using visual editor for iOS and Android apps

AppIterate is a WYSIWYG A/B testing platform for native mobile apps. It allows app publishers to A/B test and iteratively optimize their designs/UX and functionality of their mobile apps to improve in app purchases, user engagement and conversion metrics. It also allows app publishers to run tests and deploy based on user segments and see real time conversion metrics.

On April 21st, Avinash and I had a telephonic chat with Tanuj Mendiratta on the story behind Appiterate, their current traction and future roadmap.

Q. Could you give our readers some background about Airwoot and how you started the venture.

[Appiterate]: Appiterate was founded by 3 cofounders who were each pursing different paths. Anuj and I started working on DSYN while I was still studying at IIM Calcultta. Anuj was my batchmate from DCE. We figured out the in the mobile space a lot of tech was happening but nothing much on design. DSYN was trying to fill this gap. By December 2010, we had signed up a few clients including the likes of Vodafone. We both, then decided to skip the placements. We soon got in touch with Mayank, an IITD grad, who was working on tech offerings in the similar field. Given our complimentary offerings, we decided to partner together. We grew the services company to 35 people, with more than INR 2 Cr annual revenue and signed up clients such as Zomato, Ixigo, Sears, P&G etc.

Q. How and when did you decide to pivot from a services company to a product company?

[Appiterate]: Our services business was growing pretty well. But we wanted to scale quickly and build a big company. A lot of interesting things were happening on mobile, and with age at our side, we wanted to experiment with something that could grow big quite fast. We also felt that running product and services together was impossible as it meant compromising on the services delivery.

We started working on a product in January 2013. By middle of last year, we raised funding from SAIF and by October we closed down the services business completely.

Q. What happened once you decided to close down your services business?

[Appiterate]: Once we decided to pivot, we felt the need to hire a completely new team as working on a product meant different skill sets and approach. However, we worked with every employee to ensure that they were able to transition to positions at other companies. This included working with our clients to absorb some of engineers as well as conducting interviews at our office for our employees.

Q. Was the decision to close down services business completely triggered by having investors on board?

[Appiterate]: No, it was a completely internal decision. We wanted to purely focus on product.

Q. Was the decision to close down services business completely triggered by having investors on board?

[Appiterate]: No, it was a completely internal decision. We wanted to purely focus on product.

Q. How did you identify the product that you wanted to focus on?

[Appiterate]: During our services business, we interacted with a lot of clients to figure out what they were looking and whether we could productize any of these. We figured out that there was no platform in the market that allowed companies to interact and manage relationships with their users for their mobile apps. Hence we narrowed down to Appiterate.

Q. In terms of your approach and mindset, what did it mean to pivot to a product company?

[Appiterate]: There is a mindset challenge that you need to overcome when pivot to a complete product based company. With services, revenue was coming in steadily and we were a decently established profitable company. From this we moved to a company with no customers and start building out a new product from scratch.

Q. There are a couple of other A/B testing platforms that have come up, so of the backed by accelerators such as YC and TechStars. How do you see them?

[Appiterate]: There are a couple of startups that have come up in the silicon valley offering an A/B testing platform for mobile. This is a good validation for us about the market opportunity. However in terms of product, we believe we are more refined than the other players.

Q. Which is your current focused market?

[Appiterate]: We are focused on the global market. At the same, the Indian ecosystem has also matured, and we are seeing traction here as well.

Q. Given that you do not have presence elsewhere, how are you tapping the global market?

[Appiterate]: In today’s globalized world, location does not matter. We travel to meet our potential customers, organize webinars etc. to get in touch with and explain our offerings.

Q. Tell us something about your current team

[Appiterate]: Our current team strength is 10 and that includes some brilliant folks.

Q. What is Appiterate’s business model?

[Appiterate]: We are offering our platform on a SaaS model.

Q. What does Appiterate’s roadmap look like?

[Appiterate]: A/B Testing is just the start for us. We want to help app publishers better monetize post download. We want to be a CRM for mobile apps wherein a product manager can manage all communication with the users.

Q. What is your marketing strategy?

[Appiterate]: We intend to use both inbound and outbound marketing and position ourselves as a complete relationship management platform for mobile apps.

The day Zest.Md picked on smartest brain for inputs at #PNMeetup

I met Avinash a few weeks back to share details about, and to discuss some of the challenges which we are facing. Avinash, helped me to understand a lot of issues better, and invited me to be a part of the #PNMeetup to discuss it with a larger group. To be honest, I was apprehensive initially, but seeing the conviction with which Avinash said that it would help us, I agreed and I am so glad that we did go and share our challenges at the #PNMeetup! 

Zest.Md is a SaaS platform which provides with medical practitioners with a solution to get started with online consultation process, using their own website. One of the key challenges which we shared with the group was on how to drive initial engagement with the medical practitioners who sign up. Another aspect which we discussed was around pricing. Currently we have a single price solution, and we were in the process of considering Freemium model – what should we keep in mind while designing Freemium so that we don’t end up losing paying clients. 

#PNMeetup was a great experience it was very refreshing to be amongst people who have been involved with various stages of product development, themselves. It was a very different space than the other entrepreneurship events that I have been in, almost everybody here was currently running an online product company, and they understood dilemma and the criticality of the decision around such questions. 

I had attended along with two other members of my team, and the one of the greatest reaffirmation was that, there is no single answer or a single point of view when it comes to even simple questions pertaining to a product. Many a times we, as young start-ups, tend to get bogged down or keep changing paths based on feedback from a single person. Being at #PNMeetup gave a reassurance that it is justified that we were so concerned about our decisions on these questions as they are not so straightforward, and at the same time the forum was a great place for us to take feedback from a group as a whole, and it helped us to identify the range of possible solutions from which we could chart out our own solution. 🙂

Thanks Amit, Devendra & Avinash for helping me in the presentation and briefing you provided and for the opportunity.  I really liked the venue and seating arrangement, and I feel that the ambience was instrumental in creating an informal atmosphere where people could exchange frank and honest opinions.  

P.S.: The highlight of the day was meeting up with Amit Ranjan, co-founder Slideshare and to see him share his thoughts candidly! 🙂

My name is Vinayak and I’m the Founder & CEO at 

Wingify – optimizing your website, simply!

Wingify’s vision is to develop world’s best tools for optimizing a website. Wingify launched ‘Visual Website Optimiser’ – an A/B testing software. Their products help in increasing website sales, conversions, signups and, at the same time, decreasing advertising budget. All this done by products which are really simple to use. Having hit 1900 customers in about 3 years, they sure have made internet a better place to be in, in their own way.

Aakriti Bhargava from Boring Brands, spoke with Paras Chopra, Founder & CEO Wingify on his interesting journey so far.

What was the vision, which led you to start Wingify?

Wingify started in May 2010, to make products in the marketing optimizing domain. That was the time when Google offered a very expensive and technical tool for A/B testing – we spotted the opportunity to create a powerful product at a reasonable price. Our ambition from day 1 was to simplify the testing of website for anyone and build in time – efficiency to ensure someone with no knowledge of coding could do it with ease. Having catered to over 1900 customers around the world, we hope, we are in line in fulfilling the intent of starting up.

What has worked out really well for Wingify in such a short time?

Having focussed in the simplicity of the offering seems to have helped us a lot in scaling our operations so far. Relying on self-service model, we have insisted on simple processes to create website versions in a visual designer and specify what goals are desired to optimize the website for. That’s all! No need to do complex JavaScript page tagging. No need to repeatedly fiddle with HTML code. We believe in our product so much that we also encourage our potential customers for a free 30 day trial to play around with the tool. This helps us in getting valuable feedback from the customers and further improvement.

Did you reach out for funding at any stage of your start-up?

We have not had a need so far and have been cash positive right from day 1 of our existence. We are primarily a B2B company, and have scaled in a humble and sustainable manner and will continue to do so.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Assembling the right team and hiring the best talent has been the biggest challenge so far.

Today, what are your priorities at Wingify?

I strive everyday to improve the product and build a happy team!

Who have been your customers?

Our customers include Microsoft, Groupon, FourSquare, MakeMyTrip, Rackspace, etc.

What is your Success Mantra?

We strive to provide the best customer support possible. We believe that even if competition is able to copy the product they may not be able to copy the passion that you have towards the product.

Changing user behavior – Cardback

This time, we feature Cardback a Delhi based startup, focused on helping today’s retail consumers discover the best deals and offers available on their credit, debit, loyalty and prepaid cards across merchant establishments. Its first product, also by the same name, is a location-aware mobile app that is currently in public beta for Android and in an invite-only phase for the iPhone.

What inspired you to build such a product?
We ourselves have always been sensitive to saving as much as we can while spending. While faced with a peculiar challenge of figuring out which one of our cards is best suited to use at a particular place, we identified it as a business opportunity that could be addressed using modern day computational techniques and the power and ubiquity of smart phones. That was, essentially, the genesis of Cardback.

Who all make up the core team at Cardback?
Nikhil Wason and Nidhi Gurnani started Cardback in July 2012 after months of brainstorming on the fundamental challenge faced by today’s credit and debit cardholders. Engineers by profession as well as by passion, both Nikhil and Nidhi are technologists, but with a business sense. While Nikhil, a graduate of Columbia University, was previously working with Adobe, Nidhi contributed her bit to the Aricent Group for a while. The core team got expanded with Ankita Garg joining a couple of months later to handle marketing. Ankita, a social media expert, has in the past helped several start-ups acquire a considerable user base during their initial days.

Can you tell us a bit about your product roadmap?
We currently have an Android app, while the iPhone app is in private alpha testing. We made a conscious decision to focus our initial energies on Android, as India’s mobile user base is more Android-oriented. Since its beta launch in Nov 2012, we have analyzed enough user behavior on the Android app to make fundamental decisions on its user experience on other platforms. We plan to ship a public beta of our iPhone app in January 2013. Cardback for Windows Phone and Blackberry are currently under development.

One very important aspect of our future roadmap is to build a partnership with banks and other card issuers. Using our platform, they will be able to push their special deals and incentives to cardholders at the right place and at the right time. Meanwhile, they will be able to gather valuable analytics, which will help increase the repeat usage of cards issued by them.

What challenges have you faced in your journey so far?
The biggest challenge that we have to address is changing user behavior.  While many people today claim to be tech savvy and gadget comfortable, they’re still very averse to making changes to their credit and debit card usage habits. Even though they would be interested in discounts, they rarely remember they have several excellent entitlements by virtue of holding certain cards. With these cards, many discounts become their “birth right” or so to speak. Cardback provides them the tools, but those tools won’t help unless people make use of them.

As a mobile application, another major challenge that we have to face is discoverability. With millions of products out there on every mobile platform, it becomes very difficult to make users notice your app, even if it solves a genuine pain point.

Are you collaborating with other startups?
At Cardback, we do not believe in re-inventing the wheel. We realize that the challenge we are trying to address is so specialized and requires such clinical execution, that if there are specialists in the periphery zone who have proven solutions, we will happily bring them on-board.

We have recently partnered with dineout, which is India’s premiere restaurant booking service, to allow our users to make table reservations at their favorite restaurants through our application itself. Our application already helps users save money, now with this feature, they save time too. And they even get discounts with every table booking they make.

How would you rate yourself in terms of achieving the targets you set out to achieve so far and what are your targets for future?
Being engineers ourselves, we are very data driven in our approach towards everything. Setting targets and evaluating our performance is no different. We have defined metrics that we’re tracking ourselves against and so far we are very satisfied with our performance.

Qualitatively, we set out to achieve two things by the end of the year. First, technological proof of concept, and second, basic customer validation. We’re proud to say we’ve done very well on both those fronts and we will be starting 2013 with a brand new level of excitement due to these accomplishments.

For the near future, our target is rapid expansion of our user base and scaling our platform to support that rapid expansion. We will also be adding new and innovative features as we get our apps synced across all operating systems.

As a long term goal, we would be partnering with card issuers such as banks, as mentioned previously.

How do you cover the operational costs?
Cardback is currently being bootstrapped. Several investors have expressed a keen interest in what we’re doing and we are evaluating the right time (and the right investor) to infuse additional funds into Cardback’s mission.

Wishing GoodLuck to the Team!!

Build product teams based on established capabilities and chemistry

Jay Pullur is the founder and CEO of Pramati Technologies, software and services company based out of Hyderabad. The company recently announced that it’s enterprise social collaboration software platform — Qontext — had been acquired by Autodesk, the maker of design, engineering and entertainment software.  Jay’s career in the software industry spans 25 years, and his primary interest lies in building products for new markets. This has led to Pramati Technologies incubating and spinning-off multiple startups. In an interview with, Jay talks about the importance of a product development team, switching from a services mindset to a product mindset and importance of giving customers not just a product but also an experience.

When you’re conceptualizing a product do you ultimately have the end goal in place or does that fall into place somewhere long the journey? 

Well, the end goal is to make the product successful. Normal entrepreneurial expectations are to build the business big enough to pursue the acquisition path, or an IPO. However at Pramati, even before we think about that end goal we practice what we call ‘careful entrepreneurship’ — we don’t venture into something just because we’re passionate about doing something in a certain area or because we want to jump on the bandwagon. Working with an end goal in mind is like playing the game with the sight set on the scoreboard; we might loose track of the ball.

Instead, we start an idea in a small fashion, watch it gather momentum and then form a core team. The spectrum of opportunities is wide and how else would one choose? We build a core team around the project with people from within the company who have established capabilities and chemistry. We then have to craft the product pitch and try it out in the market before committing funds to sales and other activities. Based on the product-market fit, we formally make it an independent entity and float it out like a typical startup. This approach as worked better for us.

So on an average, how long does this preparatory phase take? And what’s the profile of this team – do they come from multidisciplinary backgrounds?

Idea development stage can take anywhere up to a year, most often 6 months.  During this period, we have a really small team — like for Qontext, we had a three-person team. And they are usually people who’ve been with the company for sometime, so we know they are right for exploring certain aspects. There are many aspects to explore because a product is a confluence of market opportunity and certain technology changes. The company has built strong capabilities to address this confluence in a few chosen areas, and we play around our strengths. The team might include people from technology, user experience, business development, consumer marketing or enterprise sales, and the composition entirely depends on what aspects have to be explored before we dive deep.

So given your background in Wipro, where you were employee #36,  getting into the product mindset would have required a different mentality. In Wipro it was about the client doing the spec and asking for something, and the services organization providing the people and delivering the project. How did you resolve yourself to a new business model where the waiting period itself to kick of a project was anywhere between 9-12 months?

When I started at Wipro, it was early days of the IT industry in the country. We did have to innovate on the services side of the business model in some fashion, however the services industry enjoyed many natural advantages. Understanding the services part of the business gave me good insights as to what is possible in India and the expectations of global clients. But, now we had to innovate on the business model further and we were ready for that.

I left Wipro with the intention of experimenting and bringing a new level of innovation in the country using the same IT professionals but creating higher value offerings. Those were the days when the Internet was just beginning to boom, so our first product was an infrastructure for web applications. The company vision has been to find the right model for building globally successful products or services and go beyond what the traditional IT industry in India has done.

Talking of teams, you have different very distinct product lines doing some very focused work. How do ensure that the best practices that come out of the product development exercise are replicable across the organization?

Product development no doubt needs very high-levels of skills, capabilities, teamwork and commitment to excellence. And when we are able to that well, we need to ensure that it spreads through the organization and remains as part of our DNA even as we grow.

This actually is a very critical element of our business model and you will notice that we are organized as multiple independent businesses with a core, underlying infrastructure, technical expertise, work culture and purpose. The independent business gives them the freedom of smallness (read startup) structurally and the core brings the power of the big.

In some ways Pramati is not only a software company but also as an incubator and an angel investor with a portfolio of businesses. The strength lies in bringing this synergy between them, and building the infrastructure that is common for all these companies — and this is beyond just providing facilities and finances. It is about building the core capabilities of creating teams, spotting talent and integrating them. The Pramati corporate base provides a common infrastructure such as access to a strong legal and M&A specialists needed for deals like our recent one with Autodesk. Such Corporate development capability is hard to build in a startup, although very essential. Also, our model gives us the opportunity to bring talent in to the company even earlier than we’d actually need. We are always looking to bring the right people in the system and be part of our culture; opportunities may get worked out subsequently.

So in the product development game, if you had to put your finger on three vital resources without which you wouldn’t even contemplate beginning, what would those be?

  1. Deep understanding of technology. The organizational knowledge in key technology areas plays a big role. It gives us the confidence to deal with changing market needs and customer preferences.
  2. The ability to think globally. Over the last 14 years we have built complementary operations in both India and the US. So this gives us access to both markets – customers and talent, enabling us to build products and market them.
  3. Our brand. Customers don’t want to deal with small brands and unknown products. Having been in business for a long time and served thousands of customers across different categories, we understand the kind of expectations customers have. We constantly strive to understand customers better and enhance the experience we deliver.

Typically, Indians have been accused of being great from a technology perspective but are sometimes very poor at packaging and brand building. How have you tackled this? 

I think being good at technology alone is not enough. Customers today are expecting more than just a product or a solution — they’re expecting an experience. We always design and build the whole product, not just the software part. Few important things here are – the experience of dealing with company, the first impression with the product, the usability, the interaction with our support team. Nothing less than world-class sells today and no customers are captive; there are hundreds of other players in every market who are ready to service them.

So obviously we had to build a team that’s global in nature finding the right resources in the right place. Fortunately, we found right talent in India who could design user interface and experience that works well for our global customers. However, as a company, we have placed heavy emphasis on packaging, user experience and brand development which has paid off well.

Best products are built, keeping its user experience in mind says Shalin Jain from Tenmiles…

Hypothetically speaking, if one was offered a job and the decision to accept or reject was based on how far one had to travel, would “Tenmiles” be a round enough estimate, to base a rejection on? The answer is locked away somewhere in this piece. Read on to find out…

Education, bunking and creation

Shalin Jain’s enchantment towards Internet started way back, when he was in high school and the thought dawned on him how powerful a tool it was for connecting people. Blog, as a platform for communicating ideas caught on early and he used WordPress as effortlessly and seamlessly as one uses notebooks to make personal notes. Doing B.Sc in Statistics from Loyola college, proved beneficial in many ways. It helped develop an analytical mind and the flexibility to work during those years. At the company that he worked for, Indchem Software Technology, Shalin learnt the ropes in design through ASP & JSP Applications. Submerged in work, college attendance  was to take a nosedive. At the behest of the Principal and some paternal advice, Shalin almost took the brow-beaten path of doing an MBA. While still mulling over his future, one day he got a job offer from his old organisation. Though a seasoned hand by now, yet some parts of the student in him remained alive. The distance to workplace and back was approximately 10 Miles. He decided to chuck it. Tenmiles Tenmiles Tenmiles, the words reverberated – what could have been and what he chose.

The Brand Tenmiles

Instantaneously, his creative mind went on an overdrive. What if he started a company with a name like “Tenmiles” and live his dreams.  A “no” to something is really about saying “yes” to something else. Thus was born the idea. Initially it was a garage-level operation and the focus of business was on Web Design & Flash programming. Functioning out of the domestic market is very challenging for a startup. The constant “back and forth” approach can be unnerving and puts additional pressure on time and deadline. It also did not help that there were many companies claiming to develop products.

Screenswift, creates installable Flash screensavers from any Flash movie, took only 16 days to develop. There were two versions: Personal edition & the Premium edition later in 2001. This product would gain huge popularity amongst design agencies. The desktop screensaver market was big towards the end of 90’s and early 00’s. Not off late.  In 2005, Helpdesk Pilot, another very successful product was launched. In the first month itself, the product got in 11 customers and umpteen sales enquiries. It’s a platform built to help you provide excellent customer support effortlessly. HappyFox was another cloud based customer support software which got launched soon and now happens to be the flagship product. In the words of Shalin, the design element in this product was very good. In 2010, launch of DoAttend  established the company’s reputation on strong customer driven focus.

SWOT Analysis              

Self admittedly, the company did not have a structured approach to Marketing and only started investing in it, after the launch of DoAttend. Shalin gave the example of a painter, who paints not with “awards” in mind but what the painting is going to look like. Best products are built, keeping its user experience in mind.  DoAttend was a very successful product and word-of-mouth marketing, worked to its advantage. The focus was the “customer” and never the media. This approach worked well and brought customers in droves.

The organisation also believes in lean staffing which in a way has resulted in optimising productivity. Shalin is of the firm belief that in case of a multi-product approach, each product must be self sustainable. A half-baked approach never works.

The company has been bootstrapped to generate funds.


In college, Shalin had a neighbour – another youngster who was only older by a few years. This was in the year 1998 – 99. Shalin was in a stage in life where he wasn’t easily distracted and thus had the opportunity to study his neighbour’s methods, his drive, passion. This was perhaps the single-most important trigger.

Building Successful Products

A product can be very good, but with average business scope, whereas it can also be average but with a huge business potential. Every product developer needs to figure out which market they would like to operate in. Here are some tips offered by Shalin for startups:

  • Have the end consumer in mind and build accordingly
  • Be clear on what is the exact problem you’d like to address by building this product
  • Trying to build too much. Too many functionalities might not be the right way
  • All great products have a solid focus on design and make sure you have one!

On Product Ecosystem

When he started in 2000, there was nothing of the kind. Developers at that stage, including Shalin were used to experimenting and working without much support. Having said that, it was important to get the right advice, inspiration and a direction. There should be a system in place to do a reality-check. Mentoring sessions usually turn out to be hype. The need of the hour was to get away from jargon-throwing and hand-hold some of the young boys and girls who are only equipped with a brilliant idea. And, there are many.

The country has huge potential and an opportunity to come up with top-notch products which can be world beaters.

Product LaunchPAD: Putting the spotlight on 9 quality tech products

On day two of the NASSCOM Product Conclave, nine ‘Product LaunchPAD’ companies were announced. These companies were recognized for their high-quality, emerging products.  The gathering, which took place in the ‘Agenda’ hall at the Vivanta by Taj, comprised representatives of the selected companies, industry veterans, the co-hosts of the event (Sharad Sharma and MR Rangaswami) as well as members of the online and offline media communities.

In a time when the product ecosystem in the country is gaining momentum, it’s important to recognize the efforts of companies like these who are focussed on delivering high-quality technology products and putting India on the product map of the world. As Sharad Sharma pointed out while addressing media at the Product LaunchPAD event, the considerable phase of acceleration in the Indian product space demarcates the ‘tigers in the ecosystem’ — but why is it so important for the product ecosystem to grow?

Let’s get some context.

There are two paths that lie in front of India today: either it can go the way the UK went — where globalization hollowed out the the SMB sector — or it can go the way Germany went — where it’s vibrant and thriving SMB industry shaped the development of the country. So what role does the Indian product story have in this situation? Well, the answer to how the Indian SMB story shapes up depends largely on what’s happening in the Indian SMB ecosystem today. And this means that Indian product companies have to embrace new trends like non-traditional business models and cloud-based technology which enable the availability of software at every available price point. Sharad Sharma highlighted the importance of this last point — he drew a parallel to the revolutionary Nokia phone that was priced Rs.2000, which completely changed the way the aam Indian communicated. This is exactly whats happening in the software world today. More often than not, software is the carrier of best practices in new environments, and this is what makes India uniquely poised to start a new journey of transformation.  And this transformation depends largely on the ability of Indian SMBs to re-invent themselves around these new technologies.

Luckily for India, it’s economic structure is quite similar to the German economy. The data tells a strong story : 26% of India’s GDP comes from the SMB sector, which is growing at a much faster pace than the large businesses sector. For the overall Indian economy to treble, this Indian SMB sector has to not just double but treble — because the burden of the growth of the Indian economic sector is dependent on the growth of the SMB sector, which needs technology to help re-invent itself.

The Product LaunchPAD initiative provides a platform for these companies to showcase their products, which have been in the market for at east a few months.

This year, the judges received 54 entries and shortlisted nine companies after much deliberation. Reflecting the current trends in the industry, many of these companies showcased products and concepts revolving around the cloud, localization and location services, mobility, web applications, social media and script-less test automation.

The nine Product LaunchPAD companies selected for 2012 are:

Qualitia Software Pvt. Ltd (Pune): Qualitia is an easy-to-use yet powerful test automation B2B platform which supports leading test automation tools like HP-QTP and IBM- RFT, including open source solutions like Selenium / Webdriver. This is a script-less test automation platform that transforms the way existing QA teams work in organizations. It empower existing QA teams and automated testing teams.

InSync Tech-Fin Solutions Limited (Kolkata): InSync’s product SBOeConnect is a simple, integrated and flexible solution aimed at Magento (an eBay e-commerce platform)  merchants. The product enables fully automatic and bi-directional data synchronization between the SAP Business One ERP system and the Magento e-commerce platform.

The product is already being used by 80+ Magento merchants, as it fulfills a need that e-commerce businesses have which is a need for an integrated ERP system. The company recently launched a Windows 8 application.

Magnasoft Consulting India Pvt. Ltd (Bangalore): Magnasoft focuses on the geospatial industry, specifically on three segments: content (maps), enterprise (large software for corps) and consumer (child safety). Their product NorthStar caters to the third segment, as the company identified a sweet-spot in the area of child-safety in the K-12 ages. The product used Amazon’s cloud platform to offer a subscription based model to parents who pay Rs.50 a month to receive SMSs that tell them when exactly the school bus their child is on will reach the designated bus-stop. The system works with an accuracy of two minutes and focuses on improving the safety and accountability of school bus systems using the RFID system.

Ciafo (Bangalore): Ciafo’s product Frrole sees itself going beyond mainstream media to revolutionize the news industry. It relies on people enabling news to move faster, and champions the thought of news not being controlled by one single entity. With increased direct sharing and historically low trust levels in mainstream media, Frrole presents a revolutionary new alternative for users to discover news about and around them. By promoting citizen journalism, it also hopes to create a society with more symmetrical distribution of news and opinions.

Silver Stripe Software Pvt. Ltd (Chennai): Tour My App is Silver Stripe Software’s new product which aims to increase user engagement and trial conversion in self-serve web apps. When people sign up with web apps online, its important that they know how to use the app by themselves otherwise they lose interest. The product solves the “what should I do next?” pain point. It lets web application developers create guided tours inside their application on the Tour My App site.

Greytip Software Pvt. Ltd. (Bangalore): GreyTip’s product Greytip Online is a cloud based HR and payroll software (SaaS) that is suitable for SME companies who have between ten and 250 employees. It simplifies and automates most payroll and employee data management activities, including statutory calculation and reporting. With this product, the company takes automation to smaller companies in order to make them competitive, but uses Indian prices. It currently has a user base of 95,000 employees.

Pipal Tech Ventures (Bangalore): Pipal Tech’s application is B2C free application that  aims at bringing Google like search capabilities for offline retailers. DelightCircle is the company’s customer engagement and location based marketing platform. The DelightCircle Smartphone app allows consumers to discover places to shop and eat based on their location and interests, and get rewarded for this. There’s also a DelightCircle SMS based app and a DelightCircle website that offer the same capabilities.

SignEasy: SignEasy is an iPhone, iPad and Android application that offers a a simple and quick way to sign and return documents securely from a device. It allows for multiple signers to accelerate professional transactions and close deals from virtually anywhere. The app also allows for text and image insertions and it can be linked to Box, Dropbox and Evernote for retrieval and archiving of documents. It supports several document and image formats and also offers the ability to set a personal passcode to prevent unauthorized access to signatures and files.

 Selasdia (sales aid spelt backwards) is Aiaioo Labs’ product  which is an intelligent sales assistant for brands. It is essentially a CRM system that has access to customer information, which it uses to listen to all that customers are saying on blogs and  other areas online, and capture this information. It tracks blogs, understands the posts and lets brands know when it is relevant to them and the products they are selling. It tells brands what their customers’ interests are, helps them build relationships and helps them find people they should be talking to.