Mayank Bidawatka, Co-founder of Koo gets candid with us about his vision for the micro-blogging platform
- Desi micro-blogging platform
Koohas been in news for the past few weeks, ever since many politicians and celebrities announced they are joining the platform.
- The result has been massive downloads for the app in India. Currently the app has seen over 4.3 million downloads.
- We talk to
Mayank Bidawatka, Co-founder, Koo, who takes us behind the scenes and tells us how they have been managing this massive spurt in downloads. He also shares his vision for the platform with us.
The platform has tried to solve a problem that many Indians faced on global platforms like Twitter, not being able to express themselves in their regional languages. Koo has tried to bridge this language divide. Currently, users can ‘Koo’ in 7 Indian languages, a number the founders want to take up to 25 within the year.
Meanwhile, the plan is also to make the most of the tailwind the platform has received, thanks to its validation from the Indian government, and grow its user base to a massive 100 million by the end of the year, and Mayank Bidawatka, Co-founder, Koo, is pretty confident they will reach that magic number in 2021.
Koo was co-founded by
The idea for founding Koo came from another platform that they were running called Vokal. This was a Q&A platform where people could ask questions to experts, through voice or videos. “However, a lot of these experts also wanted a platform where they could express their free thought. While Twitter is already there, we realized these people were not using the platform because they couldn’t post in their vernacular languages. That was the inception of Koo,” shared Bidawatka.
The platform that was launched with Kannada has already expanded its offering to 7 languages. “We aim at launching 25 languages by the end of this year,” he added.
However, while they are marketing the product, a lot of the growth has happened organically, only boosted by the government endorsing it. “The government, for the larger population, is a great stamp of trust. India has always had talent, we have tech experts, entrepreneurs who can dream big and we also have enough people willing to fund those dreams. The government’s focus on aatmanirbharta and self reliance is a clear intent statement from them that they are willing to put their weight behind such ideas. They want India to be self-reliant and Koo is a part of that program. We are embodiment of the spirit that Indians can make products that can be used by a wider India as well as global audiences,” said Bidawatka.
With the huge spurt in download numbers, the platform has been working relentlessly on scaling up its tech side. “We have a very sound tech team. At the same time, we are scaling up and hiring. And we are fixing bugs whenever we are coming across them. It’s a continuous process of realizing what is missing and fixing that. The speed at which we have created our product and innovated is pretty fast. To build the kind of product that we have today would have taken someone else a decade. We’ve been pretty fast and will continue this culture of building rapidly,” he added.
While its offering of vernacular languages is its biggest differentiator, it is also working on smaller features to make it a less-toxic platform. It is working on a strong verification system. It has also added a small text beside its create comment box which says, ‘Be respectful’, in an attempt to dissuade people from being aggressive and toxic on the platform.
“I can’t stop anyone from using the platform. But we will try to use technology to tackle these problems. We are also working on creating tools to help people address content that they find objectionable or questionable. People can report posts or comments. People who troll in the social media world are usually faceless. So we are trying to create a sound verification process,” he explained.
So what is their revenue model? “We want to give users the flexibility to choose. If someone wants a premium model, that will give them access to a part of the app and the ones who don’t want the premium model will get access to ads and messages from brands. However, we haven’t started doing it already. It’s a part of our future plan, once we grow to a certain scale,” he explained.
When asked about his vision for the platform, Bidawatka explained that his endeavor would be to be able to give a voice to every Indian. “Our objective is to be extremely inclusive as a product and as a philosophy, so that every Indian is comfortable voicing their opinions. We want to get to 250 million users a month. We want to reach a 100 million users by the end of the year, and I am as confident as an entrepreneur can be that we will reach there,” added Bidawatka before signing off.