A joke in a regional language almost never passes muster when translated to English. For 90 per cent of Indians, there is no greater comfort than expression of thoughts, opinions and feelings in their mother tongue.
To address this intrinsic need of the vast majority, Mayank Bidawatka and Aprameya Radhakrishna, co-founders of Bombinate Technologies, launched Koo, a Twitter-like social media app for regional language expression.
Users can ‘Koo’ in text, audio or video or a combination of all three. However, unlike Twitter that has a 140-character limit, Koo offers 400 characters. Within four months of it going live in March, Koo has garnered over half a million users.
“We invited some of the top minds of India to Koo, to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences on various topics. Users can follow such personalities to see what they are talking about and share their comments and views on daily news updates in politics, about the Covid-19 pandemic, about how businesses have been impacted the most, recent changes in their work-life and personal lives due to the pandemic, and sharing their experiences of how they are overcoming these challenges” Bidawatka told BusinessLine.
He added: “After having previously founded transaction start-ups such as TaxiForSure and redBus, catering to 100 million users, Aprameya and I wanted to create an app for 400-500 million vernacular users. Our vision is to empower every Indian to express themselves on the internet.”
Koo started off with Kannada. The Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Anil Kumble, Jaggi Vasudev, Ashutosh Rana, Ashish Vidyarthi, Renuka Shahane, Shobha Karandlaje and Javagal Srinath are some of the well-know people seen sharing their experiences and thoughts on Koo with Kannadigasday.
Koo is currently available in Kannada and Hindi, the services for which was launched less than a month ago. The app will be available in nine more Indian languages — Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya and Assamese — the next six months.
According to a study by KPMG and Google, regional language users are expected to account for nearly 75 per cent of India’s internet user base by 2021.
“There are about 200-300 million tweets a day on Twitter worldwide; however, there are less than 70,000 tweets in Indian languages. India has 22 official languages. Koo will give a voice to a billion Indians and a way to listen to the best of India. This year, our target is to get the app live in 10 Indic languages. We plan to be live in 22 languages in two years and want to be live in every language that has more than a million speakers,” Bidawatka said.