Indian apps need to be given time to establish themselves: Varun Saxena, CEO and founder, Bolo Indya – Times of India
The ban on Chinese apps in 2020 gave boost to many a Indian apps. Over the past year, many of these app have created a loyal base for themselves, which includes both users as well as content creators. One such app is Bolo Indya. The app offers features like BoloMeets that allows content creators to leverage their social capital as well as followers do micropayments to avail one-to-one or one-to-many live video sessions with them around their area of expertise. Top Bolo Meets categories, according to the company, include Astrology, Lifestyle, Fitness, Language Learning, Singing, Dancing, Standup Comedy and Instrument Learning. In an interview, Varun Saxena, CEO and founder, Bolo Indya talks about the Indian app ecosystem and more.
What is the biggest feature offered by Bolo Indya?
The biggest proposition for users to be on Bolo Indya is the ability to monetise their content through micro transactions on the platform. Live Streaming, gifting and paid online services and shows are the primary drivers which creators use to engage and monetise leveraging their fan base.
Most features offered by home-grown social platforms are similar to those offered by banned Chinese apps? Like your Bolo Live feature is similar to what Bigo Live offered. Is it not time that Indian app makers create a niche of their own?
Yes, definitely. However, product development is never a differentiator. Fast product adoption is. It is important to first fill the existing void and then work on innovation to deliver new features. We at Bolo Indya are working on exciting touchpoints and creator-fan loops on the product side and you’d see many interesting rollouts over the next quarter. Also, Bolo Live is different from Bigo Live when it comes to content quality. We do not promote any kind of soft porn at all and also bar users who try to do. We believe in nurturing a healthy creator-fan relationship basis good content.
While Indian app makers have largely succeeded in filling the vacuum created with the ban on Chinese apps in 2020, they still don’t have a following anywhere near to the likes of TikTok? What do you think is the reason?
Tiktok or its following wasn’t built in a day. Everyone should give time to Indian apps to establish themselves and start playing around retention and engagement. There is too much scrutiny before time. Am sure over the next three quarters, Indian homegrown apps market will start consolidating and it will be more about retention and engagement. That’s when an exponential increase in engaged follower base will happen for the apps who are able to grow.
Many of your competitors have been able to raise more funding, as well as boasts of higher numbers of users. What is your strategy to counter this?
We are not competing with social media apps like Moj, Josh, Takatak etc. We are building a creator-first platform with a full-stack proposition for creators through their journey from early stage to the stage where they become stars with millions of followers; unlike the peer apps which are consumer first. Having said this, I don’t see any entirely new Indian app raising any big funding. Big funding only happened for those apps which were the offshoots of earlier existing companies which already had a lot of capital for some of the other businesses in their umbrella.