Both Mahindra group Chairman Anand Mahindra and Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal in their tweets endorsed desi social media app 'Chingari', hailed as Indian's own TikTok. Bengaluru based start-up, Chingari's founders Sumit Ghosh and Biswatma Nayak (former colleagues at Globussoft) are riding the anti-China wave with a sudden surge in the downloads. With nearly 2.5 million downloads, interface in nine regional languages along with English and Hindi, the founders are now dreaming to turn it into a super app for 'Bharat'.
Chingari has been up on play store since November of 2018. Before launching Chingari, Sumit says both co-founders dabbled with a lot of other social media apps to understand what the 'Bharat' audience was consuming as content. Having witnessed the growth of a popular lip-sync app Musical.ly (which later got acquired by ByteDance and later rebranded as TikTok), Chingari founders wanted to build short content app and build tech around user feedback.
Interestingly, Sumit points out that their research on other apps showed that content creators on social media app were less than 2 per and the rest, just share and consume it. So to get the first one lakh downloads, the earlier version of the app was optimised to let people share videos on Whatsapp status. However, after looking at the traction on apps such as Dailyhunt and LudoKing, news and games were further integrated on the platform. Recently having seen another social app 'Mitron' go viral in matter of days on the back of boycott China sentiment (and equally fall flat), 'mobile app' nationalism was an opportunity hard to pass, says Sumit.
Since the creative tools on the app were as good as those available on TikTok, "I started hiring Instagram influencers and we spent a lot on viral marketing and when we crossed 5 lakh users in less than 72 hours, people started noticing us," he added.
With both founders hailing from non-metros, understanding the Bharat preference comes quite naturally. "We don't want to be Facebook or Insta," says Sumit. Bombarding the tier 2-3 users with too many tools would be off-putting as users prefer simple easy to use feature app. Completely bootstrapped, Chingari currently is a 20 member team, with 5-6 members each in engineering as well as content moderation team. Chingari's user base is largely the 18-24 years and 90 per cent of downloads come from India.
The app also has traction from Singapore, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, according to the founders. Like other apps, though content can't be screened at the time of getting uploaded, Sumit says that they have strong reporting tool through which action is taken in less than 24 hours of such a report. The in-built algorithm also helps screen content depending on the time spent by users, which can be applied to increase or decrease the exposure of content on the platform .The monetisation of the app is currently very limited to banner ads, which the company plans to remove once funding is secured . Even as the company is in definitive talks with investors to close its maiden funds, Sumit says,"We have a big product roadmap, that we have planned" - with chats, messaging and live video streaming integration on the anvil.