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Vernacular knowledge sharing platform Vokal launches iOS version

Devika Singh     September 28, 2018

Vokal, a Q&A platform for language users, which was only available in Android version earlier, has now launched an iOS version too. The platform, founded by Mayank Bidawatka and Aprameya Radhakrishna, is currently available in Hindi language but the company has plans to introduce other regional languages too.

The app, which the founder says is a mix of Quora and Reddit, is trying to build a language ecosystem for non-English speakers in the country. And for this, it not just uses text but also audio input and output methods. It plans to introduce videos too soon. To encourage peer-to-peer knowledge sharing on it platform, Vokal engages with influencers, who are experts in their areas and answer the questions being asked by users. The platform also has a live video-streaming feature, where experts share their knowledge with users. The start-up was also a part of Google's 'Solve For India' program, which mentors budding Indian start-ups.

"We built Vokal because today a non-English audience doesn't have a place to go and ask the audience, get opinion of other people. Most of the Internet is built in English, and not much content is available in other languages," Aprameya Radhakrishna, Co-founder & CEO of the company told Business Today.

The founders claim that the app, just in a few months since its release, has acquired half a million daily active users and the growth has been organic so far. So far, the company claims, 250,000+ questions have been asked by its users on Vokal, with 1000s of questions pouring in everyday.

"India is one of the few countries with such large language diversity. The Indian vernacular segment is poised to be almost twice the size of the United States. Their Internet experience is broken with basic translation widgets available as solutions for their information and knowledge needs. We are creating a product grounds-up that they can use every day. This is an Indian problem that needs an Indian solution. Translation of existing content is a non-solution for a country that thrives on audio-visual media as their preferred consumption mode," said Co-founder Mayank Bidawatka.

According to a report by professional service company KPMG, India had over 23 crore language Internet users at the end of 2016. The number, it estimates, would surge to about 54 crore by 2021, while the English Internet user base would be just about 20 crore. In fact, Indian language users are expected to account for nearly 75 per cent of India's Internet base by 2021, says the report. The trend has led to emergence of several start-ups such as Vokal, which are trying to tap the language audience. However, a recent Google report had also predicted that while the language segment in India has huge potential, monetising them would take a while.

The company is not monetising yet, but going ahead plans to tap the consumer base and advertising for monetisation. Vokal recently raised a $5 million Series A round lead by Shunwei Capital, new investor 500 Startups and saw participation from existing investors Accel India & Blume Ventures.

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