How this former Vedantu cofounder is taking on Instagram and Snapchat to build social media for teens
Uablehad started off as an online life skill development platform for students aged 6-12 in 2020.
- In its current form, Uable is a mix of LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, but only for teens.
- Zee5 and Big FM’s former CEO Tarun Katial is also working on a similar offering that focuses on women.
AdvertisementAfter spending nearly seven years building one of India’s biggest edtech companies, Vedantu, Saurabh Saxena is now on a journey to take on
His latest venture Uable had started off as an online life skill development platform for kids aged 6-12 in 2020. The company had also raised close to $5 million from marquee investors like 3one4 Capital, Inflection Point, Pine Labs’ Amrish Rau and others.
Saxena claims that the other model was working just fine, both parents and students enjoyed their method of skill development in a creative manner. Saxena’s seven-year-old daughter was also a user of the platform. However, Uable decided to pivot its business model to focus on a much larger audience. This switch in model was one of the reasons why Chiratae Ventures had decided to back the company in the first place.
The company decided to move on to become a social media platform for teens as there were no dependencies on convincing parents to buy the product for their kids or on salespeople to sell the product. “That [the previous model] becomes a very non-scalable or very different proposition that I didn’t want to do as a founder or a team member as well,” Saxena told Business Insider.
Previously, Saxena has built two edtech ventures — chain of institutes Lakshya and edtech company
Where does the social network come into play?
Saxena explained that Uable is a mix of LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, but only for teens. The platform allows an open and free space to teens on the internet, without exposing them to harmful content that is currently available online. It also helps students explore academic, career and learning opportunities.
“Teenage is a great age to build a social product for… They spend so much time on the Instagrams of the world, Snapchats of the worlds. What they end up consuming, I mean it’s okay, I won’t say everything is crap. But at the end of the day what I believe is that social platforms need to change and become more and more valuable,” he added.
Saxena said, “The core value proposition for Uable is this is the place where a teenager comes, can explore a diverse set of interests right from gaming design, art and design, love and relationship, career, skills, exams. We have a club on exams also if you want any help, if you want to join any study group also. So you explore your interests, you make new friends… Teenagers are looking to make interest-based friends and expand their network.
There are only two kinds of crowd allowed on the platform. First, the teens themselves. Second, verified businesses that serve this segment or have opportunities for them. It is the second set of users that offers monetisation opportunities for Uable.
The company rewards teens in the form of virtual coins to use each feature on the platform — liking photographs, uploading content, interacting with others and more. These coins can then be used to avail discounts on the sellers and businesses listed on the platform.
The company wants to expand these businesses available on the platform and grow its library of e-books, audiobooks and more such digital assets for platforms.
Ensuring safety for children online
Indian media executive and business professional Tarun Katial — who has previously led Zee5 and Big FM as founder chief executive — is also working on a similar offering called Eve World, but solely focusing on women. He started working on the platform in 2020 after his wife, media veteran Monisha Singh Katial, was trolled on social media platforms.
While there is no such motivation for Saxena, he does believe that there is a need for such a platform where teens can brainstorm and grow their own social circles. The company is also ensuring safety of these teens on the platform by filtering out harmful, abusive and disturbing content on the platform. Teens can report any negative comments on the platform, the content would be taken down and users may be blocked too.
Uable will also bar the use of certain words on the platform — both publicly and in private chats. The company has however ensured that it would not be reading out any of the private chats of these teens, respecting their privacy, but will enable some alerts for certain words to prevent bullying on the platform.
AdvertisementAccording to United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than a third of young people in 30 countries are being cyber bullied and one in five children skip school because of it. Meanwhile, eight in 10 children in 25 countries report feeling in danger of sexual abuse or exploitation online.
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