Koo will be built in public and it will be one of the largest startup stories that will go international, believe the founders
India’s burgeoning economy is proof that the country is beyond the cusp of business transformation today. In fact, it has become a powerhouse of producing some of the biggest startups in the world, branching across domains. Plenty of startups have emerged from the ocean of opportunities to make their big mark and Koo is one name that is enjoying a serendipitous journey since that past year.
Committed to proffer an open expression platform for the Indian audience, that ensures a deeply immersive experience in Indian languages, Koo’s journey began in March 2020 in Mandya. After having worked on the initial feedback, the company won the Government of India's Aatmanirbhar App Innovation Challenge in August 2020, and as they say, the rest is history.
Thrilled with its phenomenal growth, Mayank Bidawatka, Co-Founder, Koo shares, “We have added so many languages now. Koo has been taken up by a lot of celebrities and a lot of prominent faces across various spectrums of society. We are overjoyed with everyone’s love and it's been a phenomenal journey so far.”
Mapping Its Journey
Giving us a sense of some initial hiccups, Aprameya Radhakrishna, Co-Founder & CEO, Koo explains, “Most of the challenges have been internal- getting a team together, getting them inspired enough to work, making sure we are super fast because the expectations are so much.
Also, the expectations from a 1-year old startup are tremendous, so that's really encouraging for us. The external market hasn't been a big challenge. It's a lot of pressure for us to equip ourselves right with all resources- whether its capital, its team, the users, the community, etc.”
Koo's juxtapositioning with Twitter has also raised questions on the latter's threat to this new homegrown app. However, Bidawatka and Radhakrishna only observe a common theme between them. “If you see theme-wise, then yes, it is direct competition. But if you look at who is using it and what you're looking for in the future, then it is not.
What we are doing is we are going deeper in each country that we enter. The idea is to build an app where every language speaker can voice his opinion, irrespective of the language they know. We have included the local nuances for the same.
So, what we are trying is to get people to do is similar but who we are trying to be is different,” they expound.
Catering to the audiences that speak native Indian languages, the difference in their product and how these users are using their product features is what makes them different.
The Moderation Lens
Any platform that enables people to speak their minds and invite invigorating discussions will also have content that is very diverse, whether people do it innocently or with an intention to cause harm. This often begets questionable content on a platform.
Koo, in this respect, has given tools to the community that enable flagging off any content that may come across as controversial or alarming. The reported content is further seen through a legal lens. “Everything is about the legality and if the content is flouting an existing law in the country, we don't try to be the judge of the quality of the content or put on any kind of bias. So, that's basically the future of content moderation. Every country will have its law and you need to make sure that the content produced by the citizens of that country is abiding by the law. The ultimate objective is to establish transparency so that everyone knows and has an explanation of what has just happened," they point.
On the data front, the app offers some of the best security measures to keep the users’ data secure. “We are also going to undergo certain ISO certifications to ensure that we are able to pass on that trust onto our users,” mention the founders.
Bidawatka and Radhakrishna aspire to build a team that is really passionate about building a social network for India, giving voice to everyone, irrespective of their language. “There are a lot of people who are joining us because they understand the problem that we are trying to solve and that inspires us. Our prime focus remains on is building a team that helps us solve the underlying problem,” informs Radhakrishna.
The next step for the app is to keep getting more and more localities. “Giving a nuanced expression platform for a country, as dynamic as this in local languages, is very important. And of course, because we come from India, we are very welcoming. So, we bring that natural culture into bridging the product. This means I respect your local laws and I will build a product around it. No matter which country we go to, we will go respect their local laws because we don't want any disruption. We travel around the world because we want to experience different cultures, and at Koo, you can do that too,” he adds.
Concluding with some emerging trends in the industry, they believe that the language community will be growing much faster, the world will be more accepting of the fact that the voices of India are beyond English and a lot of local talks will inspire positive social change in society.
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