Owning a home is everyone’s dream but choosing the right builder, right locality is a herculean task. Not to mention that ‘Budget’ also takes a higher priority since even if you like a particular flat, it may/may not fall into your budget. On one hand there are some builders who charge ‘Premium’ for their flat since they are well-known brands and have a massive brand recall, on the other hand there are ‘Aspiring’ companies/builders that offer the best quality homes at reasonable price so that ‘Benefits’ are passed on the customer!

Image Source – Builders

It is also a known fact that most of the construction projects get delayed due to rising cost of raw materials, approvals, etc. hence a builder that aims to deliver ‘Quality’ projects on-time would always have an upper-hand over its competitors. One such company is Kumari Builders and Developers that has successfully completed couple of residential projects in Bengaluru.

Today we have a chat with Ashok Naidu, Director, Kumari Builders and Developers about brand Kumari, his journey, learnings in scaling Kumari, Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, etc.  So let’s get started with the Q&A…

Let’s rewind the clock, can you take us through the notable experiences of your professional journey [so far with Kumari Builders].

There is a lot that I learnt from my father when I joined. I enjoyed every phase when he handed over more responsibilities to me. During the initial stages of my career, I reduced the procurement time of cement materials from 15 days to 5 days by streamlining the entire process by directly dealing with manufacturers than dealers. I received special appreciation from my father and was handed over responsibilities of purchase department too. This was an important milestone for me.

Planning and designing Kumari Amaranthine is another noteworthy experience. This project is designed to obtain platinum certification under Indian Green Building Council’s Green Homes Rating System and is environmentally responsive. Projects such as these require more initial investment and may not necessarily bring in more profits. So when my brother and I proposed this project to my father, we were worried that he may not give the go-ahead as he is a no non-sense person when it comes to finances. Not only did he agree to the proposal, but he asked my brother not to over price it like projects of similar nature.

Considering your experience [with Kumari combined with your father’s exp in same business], how has the construction business evolved over the last couple of years.

The real estate segment is getting more regularized every year. We could practically start construction and finish it with just 15~25% of initial investment up to the late 2000’s. It is not so any more. You can only sustain if you have adequate primary funds. The power is gradually shifting from developers to consumers.

You have been an integral part of the journey at Kumari Builders which was started by your father, can you please highlight key pillars of the group.

We deliver whatever we promise without any compromise, we also make sure that we deliver on time. My father places a lot of emphasis on quality irrespective of the pricing of the apartment.

Since primary foothold of Kumari Builders is in Bengaluru [which is known for its tech], what are some of the technological advancements used by your group in order to cater to this ‘tech obsessed audience’ ?

A recent technology that we have implemented in our all projects is MSDD connection. It integrates FTTH [internet], CCTV and DTH in to one single circuit. The advantages are multi-fold – we can use multi DTH’s connection without extra wiring; no separate antenna is required and you can access CCTV footage at the entrance – you can watch your kids activities in the play area through your television. It offers faster internet as well. This is going to be a mandatory element in all of our future projects. In fact, in one of our projects in Whitefield that has a day care facility, we have installed CCTV and the parents can check on the children from their offices on their mobile phones.

Ashok Naidu, Director – Kumari Builders And Developers

Can you please list some of the noted projects of Kumari Builders and some of the USP’s of these projects ?

Kumari Woods and Winds and Kumari Amaranthine. Kumari Amaranthine is designed to obtain platinum certification under Indian Green Building Council’s Green Homes Rating System and is environmentally responsive with many sustainable features. At the same time it is not overpriced like projects of similar nature.

Kumari Woods and Winds is designed as a home for all age groups. It is located in Whitefield. The project includes a day care for working parents, amenities that keep the children busy during weekends and numerous features for the elderly as well.

Most of your residential projects are close to tech parks, hospitals, etc. where land rates will be high, but Kumari Builders offers flats at the best rates, how does Kumari Builders ensure that you deliver the best quality at much lesser rate ?

We follow a philosophy of ‘higher turnover and lower profit margins’ unlike the norm which is ‘lower turnover and higher profit margins’. That’s how we are about to launch our 13th project in just about 4 years.

How important is Post-Sales Support and what are Kumari’s methodologies to provide best Buying Experience to its customers ?

Most of our customers are from IT who are pressed for time. For them time is equivalent to money. Customer care is directly operated under the Director, which translates to quicker and better response.

Kumari Builders’s journey started with Anantapur district, how different is real estate business in smaller cities vis-a-vis bigger cities like Bengaluru ?

The basics are always same.  Customer trust is much easily obtained in towns and smaller cities than in metropolitan cities.

With good success ratio in residential projects, what is the next growth plan for Kumari [Villa, expansion to newer cities in South India, etc.] ?  

We will be entering the villa and plot segment, but our target audience will remain the same – young working professionals.

What are some of the marketing strategies used by Kumari Builders in order to market its projects ?

We do not believe in mere marketing strategies. We always strive to provide a great product at a competitive price. That’s what sells our projects despite not going in for a huge marketing spend.

Your thoughts on the Real Estate Regulatory Act Bill [RERA], benefits for customers and how it might have an effect on the Real Estate Projects ?

We have noticed a number of reforms and policies lately that are trying to regularize the real estate sector in India. RERA is a real game changer. Implementation of RERA offers protection and faith to home-buyers and investors. From an industry point of view, it can have some implications on completed yet unsold, ongoing and new projects.

The frequency of new project launches might lessen for a year. A decrease in supply may lead to increase in prices and also result in unsold inventory moving faster. Hence the sales of existing inventory may go up, but eventually it will reduce.

The latest regulations that call for firmer compliance and transparency may push real estate prices up. Some of the other reasons for the price rise include increase in construction costs due to the pressure to deliver projects on time irrespective of delayed material supply by vendors, contractor delays, natural disturbances, low sales or any other factors. 

It is well-known that projects in prime areas generates faster sales than projects elsewhere. In fact, sales pick up mostly during the ready-to-move-in phase. It is not uncommon for developers to divert some of the fund flows from prime location projects to non-prime ones until the sales pick up. This would not be possible now due to restriction of fund flows up to 70% through maintenance of separate accounts.

An artist’s impression of Kumari Amaranthine in Bellandur

Can you comment on the PM’s mission of Housing for All and how builders [both big, mid and small builders] can turn this dream into reality ?

Building 2 crore homes is a herculean task and hence government has preferred a public-private partnership for these massive undertakings. This is a welcome move.

Most of the real-estate companies have Celebrity Brand Ambassadors, how much does it help companies [builders] to build a vibrant brand with celebrities on board ?

It’s just one of marketing strategies. Customers are better educated now. They can go beyond fancy marketing campaigns and look at the product itself. Customers would prefer a competitively priced better product than a normal product fancily marketed.

There has been lot of advancements in real estate like Precast, etc. how according to you can builders make best use of them in order to reduce TAT and deliver quality projects [at best prices] ?

I am happy to see that many builders are using advancements such as Precast and Mivan in construction technologies in recent years to reduce delivery time and improve standards in quality.  However, not every advancement is suitable for every project. For example, precast is only affordable for bigger projects.

T. Ashok Naidu, you joined your family business at a very young age [and most of your staff is below 35 years of age], how do you keep your young team motivated and how much does having younger team members help in building a vibrant company ?

We do have a few experienced employees at higher levels. However, 90% of our team including my brother and I are below 35.  Since most of the target customers we work for are below 35, we feel that employees of the same age group can understand and communicate with our customers better.

We hire staff who hold the same kind of ethos. It’s easy to be motivated when you work for what you believe in.

With GST implementation just around the corner, what is the impact that GST would have on property rates and the overall real estate sector.

Unlike the previous tax regime, GST allows input for tax credits on construction materials which is a boon for developers.  Apart from simplifying the whole mechanism of taxation, it also brings the much-needed transparency into the sector. GST will not have a significant bearing on the pricing for property buyers.

How different is managing family business [since you are not a founder but have to think & act in an Entrepreneurial manner] and can you share some tips for entrepreneurs who are managing family businesses ?

Youngsters are fresh with new ideas and can quickly embrace changes unlike the founders or the elders in a family business. It is essential to learn from the experiences of the founders, while at the same changing with the times. It’s important to introduce changes gradually so it doesn’t upset the structure of the organisation.

Educability is a common trait among youngsters. Patience is an important value that the young generation needs to practice to manage a business successfully.

Family businesses need to embrace change (especially when baton is handed over to the next gen), how do you inculcate such values in Kumari and at the same time ensure to learn from the experience of your father [who founded the company] ?

Any business needs to embrace change and keep up with times to stay relevant. Embracing change is easier in family businesses. We make sure the change is gradual and streamlined rather than abrupt and radical and also in conjunction to the values of the founder.

Some books that you read and recommend for aspiring entrepreneurs ?

I have a lot of favourites but the one that I would really recommend is Purple Cow. It is an eye-opener on how to create something noticeable in everything you do.

We thank T. Ashok Naidu for sharing his valuable insights with our readers. If you have any questions for him or the Kumari Builders team or you are an existing customer of Kumari Builders, please leave your feedback/question in the comments section or share them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com

Cre8comm -India’s first online community driven marketplace launches their services for consumers across the country. It is a marketplace where one can find the most authentic and indigenous products from the varied and diverse communities of India. It is one of the most advanced, convenient, hygienic, and easily available marketplaces in the country. It provides every community with almost every product – apparel, food from their hometown irrespective of where you live.

The company will begin delivering authentic community products and services which are usually difficult to find. From authentic fresh foods, such as meats and fish, and ready-made meals, apparel, items for ‘puja samagri’ for any occasion, such as a marriage or a Griha Pravesh. They also have many more products which are available in a certain state and community, and nowhere else in the world. At a click of a button, your authentic, freshly made, sumptuous Bengali mithai reaches you fresh and ready to eat.

The company aims to reduce cumbersome visits to the local market especially while searching for authentic products in a different city. Sometimes, that, which is rarely found in any other part of the country, leaving you with one option, call a relative, and has it couriered. Now with Cre8comm‘s latest online services, your most loved Bengali mithai, fresh from the store, sweet, delicious and sumptuous is now immediately available to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Delighted to bring an authentic experience, Promita Sengupta, Director, Cre8comm shared

This project is very close to our hearts and it gives me immense pleasure to be introducing this revolutionary service to the communities of India with a plethora of indigenous products.  We are focusing on few communities to begin with. Soon we will be covering the rest of India. As demand grows, to make authentic, community products easily available and accessible for the Indians who are living in all corners of India, Cre8comm aims to provide solutions to many of these problems.

Initial focus will be the Bengali community followed by Oriya, Malayali and Bihari and more will be added in the future.

About Cre8comm

Cre8comm is the first community driven hyperlocal e-commerce marketplace which home-delivers traditional essentials and products to all the diverse communities of India. Today’s modern lifestyles and hectic work-life schedules; makes traditional necessities difficult to find. Hence the founders introduced this innovative concept on to the e-commerce platform, creating a new whole experience.

The company’s vision is to deliver authentic and special foods, especially those that you are craving for, and they go an extra step by bringing sumptuous traditional dishes from their own ‘Culture Kitchen’, an innovative dining concept where their chefs are locals of same the community. For more information, please visit Cre8comm

Gaming has been a crucial part of the mobile industry since the launch of the App Store in 2008. For seven years in a row, gaming apps have been used more than apps from any other category. Consequently, mobile gaming has truly shaped how we engage on our smartphones today. However, since 2015, gaming sessions have been on the decline. Does that indicate the end of the mobile gaming era ?

Flurry Analytics reviewed the gaming industry based on app usage [Flurry Analytics tracks over 940,000 apps across all app categories which provides insights into 2.1 Billion devices]. To investigate current mobile gaming trends, they examined gaming categories combining iOS and Android data and bundled related gaming categories together.

Who are the heavy gamers ?

The top 5 mobile gaming countries [United States, India, China, Brazil and Russia] are driving 50% of all global gaming sessions. While the United States, India, and China take the top positions for gaming sessions, other countries are also showing a growing percentage of gaming addicts. For example, the United States accounts for 20% of all gaming sessions globally, but only 13% of all U.S. app sessions are games.

According to Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, users who are spending more than 5 hours per week in mobile games in North America are 52% female, 38.6 years old, and use both a smartphone and a tablet for gaming in 60% of all cases. While the real gaming addicts are in Europe [users in Netherlands and Sweden spend both 31% of all their app sessions in games], these countries don’t have a significant attribution to the overall global gaming sessions. In fact, Netherlands only accounts for 2% and Sweden for about 1% of all global gaming sessions.

Key Gaming Categories in Decline

For the second year in a row, gaming sessions are declining year-over-year. Three years ago, arcade, casual and brain games were driving 55% of all gaming sessions. Since then, there has been substantial declines in two of those categories – Arcade and Casual games. Arcade games, which accounted for 24% of all gaming sessions in 2014, decreased by 34%, and casual games by 50%. The declines of those two very large gaming categories were a key factor for the overall game session downturn within the last two years. A lot of those sessions simply dropped and were not spent in other gaming categories.

Are there any winners in a time of decline ?

While mobile gaming sessions have declined by 10% year-over-year, some categories continue to gain traction in usage. This year, card & casino apps reached a spot in the top three gaming categories. Sessions grew by 22% since 2014, and the category now accounts for 15% of all gaming sessions. Separately, the growth of smaller app categories is driving diversification for the industry. For example, board and strategy games grew 29% year-over-year from 2016 to 2017 and sessions are up 80% since 2014. This rise increased the category’s session share of all gaming apps from 1.6% to 4.0%.

They also identified similar trends in other smaller categories such as racing. Racing grew by 26% year-over-year and increased its game app session share from 1.6% in 2014 to 2.1% in 2017.

Fewer but longer gaming sessions

Flurry data shows that time spent in gaming apps has remained steady over the last year [+1%]. The average US consumer spends 33 minutes per day in mobile games, and our data showed that the average session length grew from 6 minutes and 22 seconds in 2016 to 7 minutes and 6 seconds in 2017. This is a significant advance, considering that the average session length never exceeded 6 minutes in 2014 or 2015. Additionally, the latest year-over-year session length growth equals an increase of 44 seconds (+12%) per session, which indicates higher in-game user engagement than in previous years. These statistics reveal that while more gamers open gaming apps less often, they often spend more time playing games during each session.

Size does Matter

In the gaming industry, one thing remains true : the bigger the screen, the greater the engagement.

When users play on-the-go, they take their medium-sized phone or phablet. However, if they are purposely dedicating time out of their day to mobile gaming, they are more likely to pick up their full-size tablet device, which explains average session lengths of over 10 minutes on full-size tablets.

With regard to the hours of the day that are most popular for on-the-go versus on-the-couch gaming, tablet gaming showed a steady peak in the morning. Most users carry their phone with them during the day, especially in the morning as they commute to school or work, so this is when many gamers play on-the-go. On the other hand, the use of tablets for couch gaming peaks in the evening, as more users log in from the comfort of their couch or bed. While gaming time on the phone still peaks in the evening, it’s important to consider that overall phone usage peaks at that time as well.

New users reflect increased revenue opportunities

As noted above, the reported shift in time spent on apps leads to more engaged attention spans at a time, which creates new monetization opportunities. Recently, SensorTower disclosed that the combined mobile gaming app store revenue on iOS and Android increased from $7.8 Bn in Q1 2016 to $11.9 Bn in Q1 2017. This equals a 53% year-over-year revenue growth. Besides different gameplay periods, users are becoming more comfortable spending money in apps, which is positively impacting mobile game revenue. SensorTower also found that download to revenue conversion on iOS has increased by 38% from January 2016 to January 2017. All of these observations lead to the conclusion that the mobile gaming industry still has high potential to drive revenue.

Mobile gaming beyond 2017 and tips for app developers

The gaming industry remains a very attractive category for app developers, especially as revenue conversions are growing. We’re seeing that longer session lengths are opening up new opportunities for innovative engagement and monetization tactics. For example, the peak usage hours on mobile devices are between 6 and 9 pm, which app developers can leverage to target specific users with acquisition or engagement campaigns.

Looking ahead, Flurry anticipates new technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality to open a new chapter of mobile gaming and to enhance the in-app experience as a whole. And gamers are ready – they are already having longer game-plays on their favorite gaming apps than ever.

The complete report can be downloaded from here

Ather Energy, the smart electric two-wheeler start-up, have announced the new addition of Dr.Venkatesh Padmanabhan as the Chief Operating Officer and Thiruppathy Srinivasan (Thiru) as Vice-President of Vehicle Development. Fondly known as Venki, he will head supply chain, quality, manufacturing, and service delivery at Ather.

Dr.Venkatesh Padmanabhan said

For my 10 years in India, I have been wrestling with this singular question : Can we, will we create world beating consumer hardware products and brands from scratch?  We are great in value engineering, local sourcing manufacturing and even at detail engineering of designs of others. But what about solving hairy consumer problems with our own design, and our own brand? When I met Tarun, Swapnil and their team at Ather, it was like a lightning bolt hit me. They surely have great brand, design and engineering mojo and are in early stages of building detail engineering and manufacturing capability. I thought I had value to add to this exciting quest and I signed up.

Thiruppathy Srinivasan (Thiru) said

Having worked around the world and in India, I am convinced of the great capability here to engineer innovative product concepts. Especially our young engineers with guidance from seniors from industry and academia have been developing exceptional product concepts, as seen with many IIT Madras incubated companies recently.  Ather Energy is among the best of them and have assembled a great team producing a product design with no compromises.

Guiding the team in taking the design through development, along with supplier partners, into production and successfully into the market is an opportunity I am truly delighted to take up. In the past few months I have been with them, I have enjoyed the great level of openness, diligence, enthusiasm, and high sense of purpose of the team.

Tarun Mehta, CEO, Ather Energy said

Venki’s career has taken him to multiple countries and multiple automotive companies. He has a strong knowledge base of the operational requirements for an automotive company, specially two wheelers. His network and his experience in the industry is a valuable asset for a young company. Ather is a young company, building on a new platform with a nascent to often non-existent vendor ecosystem. Venki’s exposure to vendors and manufacturing processes in India will prove a strategic advantage as we close in on the production of the S340.

Thiru joins Ather with over 25 years of experience in product organisations and with a number of product launches under his belt. His knowledge of new product development and introduction will be a tremendous advantage for a startup like Ather. His exposure to the product vendor ecosystems in India, China as well as in countries like Singapore and the United States, gives us a strategic advantage in the prototyping cycle of the S340 and in our future products.

After 15 years at General Motors, in 2004 Dr. Padmanabhan joined Daimler Chrysler’s (DCX) Chrysler Division to support the integration of Lean Manufacturing in its diverse operations and later also worked at Mercedes Car Division. He was brought to India in 2007 as Managing Director of Chrysler’s first South East Asia Global Sourcing Centre in Chennai from where the company today sources close to USD 1 Billion every year in automotive parts.

About Dr.Venkatesh Padmanabhan

He joined Royal Enfield as Chief Operating Officer in 2008 and rose to the position of Chief Executive Officer in 2011. During this period, with two successful launches of the Classic and Thunderbird single cylinder UCE based motorcycles, the company saw a threefold increase in sales and twenty fold increase in profits. Royal Enfield now is a brand reborn and thriving in India and 45 other countries.

In 2013, DrPadmanabhan served as the MD & CEO of EICL [English Indian Clays Limited] to help recast a 75 year old $80M Kaolin Clay and Starch Producer into a modern innovation driven specialty chemicals company. He moved to Cyient in October 2015 to integrate its acquisition of Rangsons Electronics into extending the detail engineering offerings of its aerospace, defense, rail, medical and consumer business units into complete life cycle offerings.

About Thiruppathy Srinivasan

Thiru also serves as a Senior Advisor of Industry Relations at the Center for Industrial Consultancy & Sponsored Research, IIT Madras.  In this role he advises Industry and IITM faculty on Technology and Capability development in Manufacturing towards global leadership.

Thiru started his career in 3M after completing his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University, USA. Eventually, he moved to Iomega (now Lenovo) supporting their worldwide design centers and factories in sourcing components from Asia. In 2002, he joined Rexnord as its Director of Global Quality in the Bearing Products Division.

He moved back to India in 2003 to serve as the Director of Sourcing for Tyco Healthcare (now Medtronic) managing their Bangalore and Shanghai offices. After a stint at IMI International, he joined AO Smith as Director of Operations, India in 2008. Thiru played a key role in establishing their Green Field Manufacturing Operations in Bangalore. In 2012, he joined  Ariv Technologies as their Managing Director and currently serves on their Board of Directors.

About Ather Energy

Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd. is an automobile design and manufacturing company founded in the year 2013 by IIT Madras graduates – Tarun Mehta and Swapnil Jain. Ather is committed to building smart, connected, uncompromising vehicles and seeks to re-imagine urban commute with the help of technology. The company has so far received funding from Hero MotoCorp, Tiger Global and Flipkart founders Sachin & Binny Bansal. The team of about 200+ employees is currently developing an electric two-wheeler, which will be completely designed and made In India. Ather is also setting up a charging network with its own smart charging pods. These fast charging pods will be set up initially across its three market cities – Bangalore, Chennai & Pune. For more information, please visit Ather Energy

Quikr has released an interesting & insightful report titled ‘Used mobile phone market in India’.

Some of the key highlights from the report are below:

  • Quikr offers two services for used mobile phone transactions : a) Quikr Doorstep: Service to ensure secure transactions between two consumers with delivery handled by Quikr  b) Quikr certified: Quikr Certified phones go through 35+ points rigorous quality checks and come with replacement guarantee.
  • Mobile Post Ad grew by 216% from 2016 vs 2014 indicating an increase in online supply of second hand phones
  • As newer technologies come, consumers are changing their habits and looking to upgrade phones sooner resulting in shorter replacement cycles

The report throws light on the most preferred brands and the cities that are most active in used phone market. It also spots trends such as – 4G becoming popular, selfie phones not going out of fashion and increase in demand for high end phones.

Quikr Used Mobile Report

 

There is a constant debate between traditional offline marketing and digital marketing. The battle between the two has been going on for many years and it is here to stay! Though each has its own set of advantages & disadvantages, the major USP of online marketing is that the ROI is highly measurable via analytics. One similarity between both these channels is that the first impression creates a long lasting impression on the consumer’s minds and it is created via your company’s website.

Image Source – Web Development

Website: Give a face-lift to your business

How many times have you been in a situation where a company representative has handed his/her business card and you were disappointed with their company’s website design. Studies show that 75 percent of people judge the credibility of a business based on the design of its website and credibility has a direct relation to how likely people are to make a purchase [Source]. Hence it becomes extremely important to have a website that has a great design since it results in customer delight. Let us look into some of the aspects that are important while developing a website.

When it comes to website design, ensure that the logo is well designed, is of high quality and conveys the core offerings of your business. It is extremely important to have an eye-catching logo since it would help you gain new customers and at the same time retain existing customers. With the increasing penetration of mobile internet, many users now access the web via mobile. Apart from having an exceptionally well-designed responsive website, the website should have cross-platform compatibility. It should have a design that is tailor-made for desktop, mobile, tablet, etc. so that customers can seamlessly browse through your website across different platforms.

The images used on the website should be properly resized for the medium from where the site is getting accessed. The layout should be simple so that visitors are able to find relevant information in the least amount of time. Make it easy for visitors to contact you, ideal location would be top right of the website since it is a more prominent position. Last but definitely not the least, ensure that your company’s website, as well as the blog is updated on a timely basis.

Techmagnate: Website Design and Development Services

Though there are CMS like WordPress, Joomla, etc. that can expedite the development process and shorten the delivery time, in many cases you might require website designing & development services from pioneers like Techmagnate. Techmagnate is India’s top digital marketing and SEO services company based out of New Delhi. They offer a plethora of services like Web Design, SEO, Social Media Marketing, Pay-Per-Click Advertising as well as Application Development and have clients ranging from big companies to SMB’s.

Apart from website design and development, Techmagnate also caters to this segment by providing Digital Marketing services so that you can focus on your core business and depend on them for these aspects since they have a proven track record and expertise in this field. In a nutshell, effective Digital Marketing can make or break the brand that you wish to create and brand building & management is a long-term game…so invest in it!

If you want to contact Techmagnate for their services or have some feedback for them, please leave them in the comments section.

The mobile phone has become an indispensable part of our lives but most of the smartphone owners face common problems. The problems are shortage of storage space due to the installation of the innumerable number of apps, power/battery management, app hopping (jumping from one app to another), etc. This is the problem that startups are trying to address so that the there is more stickiness to the app since it provides more services under one roof.

Yagerbomb Media plans to address this problem with its app FloChat. FloChat is a hybrid chat platform that lets you connect with your friends, colleagues, etc. via its instant messenger and also gives you the freedom to browse and share content from across apps from its own context. Today we review FloChat on Android that can be downloaded from here, so let’s get going…

FloChat: Hybrid Messenger + Multiple services via micro-app integrations

FloChat is India’s first hybrid messenger which is simple, private and comes up with a personalized experience. The major USP of FloChat is that it brings context to conversations, thanks to its partner ecosystem [Zomato, Uber, Ola, BookMyShow, DineOut, Goibibo, Jugnoo, CouponDunia, Bing, YouTube, and Tenor].

The size of the FloChat App is only 27MB which means you can save 100’s of MB that would otherwise have been occupied by its partner apps!

FloChat: Express yourself with Reaction and EmoGIF

With FloChat, you can discover, browse, chat and transact and that too without leaving your chat window!! Users can express themselves using Reaction [#facepalm, #oops, #thankyou, etc.] or via EmoGIFThe company has partnered with Tenor that brings personality to your conversations.

Some of the salient features of FloChat are below:

  • Group Chat: Create groups and add any number of people you like, no limit on the number of people who can be added to a group.
  • Multimedia Messaging: Send video, image, text, gifs, memes and voice messages.
  • Secret Chats: With this feature, chats would disappear or self-destruct in a *poof*
  • GIF Gallery: Hundreds of free GIF’s to express your feelings available from some of your favorite shows and movies.
  • Better Privacy: It gives you the highest level of control over your privacy. You would need to add people before they can message you.
  • Edit messages after you have sent them: Have you ever misspelled your messages or auto corrects have caused more mistakes than corrections? Now you can edit messages after you have sent them.
  • Free Voice & Video Calls (Coming Soon): High-quality free calls anywhere in India including group audio and video calls.
  • Real-time Location (Coming Soon): Instead of having to tell others where you are, just use real-time location sharing.
  • Payments (Coming soon): This is one of the most anticipated feature which is expected to release in the future versions of the app since it would bring Payments integrated into chat.

Some of the screenshots from the FloChat app are below

FloChat: Floda – Chat meets AI

FloChat also comes integrated with Floda which is an AI based chatbot. Floda can help you out with booking tickets, getting your generic queries answered or even suggesting you the best place for a romantic lunch/dinner 🙂 We asked some generic questions to Floda like temperature in Mumbai, to book movie tickets, etc, and results were accurate. The overall experience was breezy since Floda could decode our requests within a few seconds.

FloChat: Closing thoughts

FloChat is a feature packed hybrid instant messenger app that helps you stay connected with your loved ones. The power of FloChat lies in the premise on how you can get things done all within the chat! With integration of Floda, it brings more meaningful context to conversations. If you are searching for an app that is not demanding on storage space but helps you stay connected with friends, then you should download FloChat.

[FloChat App Download link]

If you are an existing user of FloChat, please share your feedback in the comments section…

Fintech startup MoneyTap [Earlier coverage – MoneyTap review, Q&A with Bala Parthasarthy] has raised a total of USD 12.3 million in funding to drive the continued expansion of its app-based consumer credit line in India. The investment was led by Sequoia India and supported by existing investors, NEA and Prime Venture Partners.

As a testament to its continued popularity among its users, MoneyTap is on target to issue credit lines worth INR 300 crores by the end of the current fiscal year. With this fresh funding, MoneyTap plans to solidify its leadership position by improving credit accessibility for other segments of customers, partnering with 6 other Banks and NBFCs and expanding to 50 cities in India by the end of 2017.

Since its launch in September 2016, India’s first app-based consumer credit line has attracted over three hundred thousand [300k] users. The majority of users have a monthly income of INR 30,000~40,000 and are aged between 28~32 years.

The Indian consumer finance market is estimated to grow at a compounded growth rate of 18 percent to become a USD 1.2 trillion opportunity by 2020. Reports also suggest that it is also one of the most underpenetrated markets for lending, with close to 70% of the population being underserved by institutional lenders. Penetration of unsecured personal loans has been extremely poor in India with the organized credit presence at around 1% in the country.

According to RBI data of August 2016, in a country of 1.2 billion Indians, only 26.4 million have credit cards. Comparatively, there are about 600 million active mobile phones in India and mobile banking transactions rose from Rs 4,185 billion in 2012 to Rs 5,243 billion in October 2016. All this data points out to the fact that consumer-lending startups such as MoneyTap, supported by financial institutions, can serve a huge creditworthy but financially excluded customer base previously overlooked by the lending businesses.

MoneyTap is available on Android Playstore and is targeted at salaried individuals and self-employed professionals earning more than INR 20,000 per month. MoneyTap evaluates the user’s eligibility in less than 4 minutes after which it provides an instant, real-time decision on the application along with the amount they are eligible for. Using the credit line, consumers can choose to borrow as little as INR 3000 or as much as INR 5 lakhs or up to their maximum eligibility limit. Customers can decide their own EMI plans with flexible payback periods ranging from 2 months to 3 years. Interest is paid only on the amount borrowed and rates can be as low as 1.25% per month. If the user does not borrow any amount, then no interest needs to be paid. The credit limit also gets topped up once EMIs are paid back.

MoneyTap along with RBL Bank is able to provide its customers, instant decisions and instant access to money, 24/7. All financial transactions such as billing and repayment are directly dealt with the bank but through the MoneyTap App using secure APIs, thus ensuring 100% secure transactions.

Bala Parthasarathy, Co-founder, MoneyTap said

These are exciting times at MoneyTap. We deeply believe that the rapidly growing middle-income group in India is largely underserved by financial institutions. They are app-savvy and very demanding. We have been fortunate to partner with Sequoia, NEA & Prime – all of whom are top tier investors with deep fintech and operational expertise to take us to the next level.

Abheek Anand, Principal, Sequoia Capital India Advisors said

Consumer credit in India is highly under-penetrated and is a complex problem to solve. MoneyTap combines an experienced team with a thoughtfully designed product – and their strong early traction is a testament to the efficacy of their approach to address this massive market opportunity.

Ruchir Lahoty, Managing Director, NEA India said

MoneyTap is using the power of technology to provide a seamless lending experience to what currently is a largely broken discovery process with long execution timelines for consumers. Also, MoneyTap works with banks & NBFCs instead of competing with them therefore getting access to large amount of lending capital while managing the consumer journey throughout the lending lifecycle.

Shripati Acharya, Managing Partner, Prime Venture Partners said

MoneyTap’s strong growth since its inception is testament to both the innovative nature as well as rapid consumer adoption of their solution which addresses a monster opportunity – providing effortless credit to worthy consumers entirely through an app. We are privileged to be associated with this stellar team from the start of their journey and be part of their vision to reinvent the unsecured consumer lending landscape.

About MoneyTap

MoneyTap is a Bengaluru-based fintech startup, founded by serial entrepreneurs Bala Parthasarathy, Anuj Kacker & Kunal Varma, who are IIT/ISB alumni. Bala has co-founded multiple startups in Silicon Valley including Snapfish (sold to Hewlett Packard), which he helped grow to 100M users and $300M in revenue. After moving to India in 2007, he volunteered for UIDAI under Mr. Nandan Nilekani before starting AngelPrime in 2011 (now Prime Venture Partners) where he helped create companies like ZipDial (sold to Twitter), EZETap, Happay, etc. Kunal (ex Texas Instruments) & Anuj (ex Airtel & JWT) co-founded Tapstart that grew to 300K users and turned profitable in 2 years. MoneyTap works in very close partnerships with various banks and other financial institutions to make the process painless and on-app. For more details, please visit MoneyTap