In this age of social networking it is easy to lose ourselves. While Facebook and Google+ connect us to long lost friends and new people, there is the risk of feeling disconnected with real life. I played soccer in college but once I moved to Gurgaon, I could not find people to play the game with. Facebook groups and Meetup do try to fill this lacuna but both fall short. While Meetup charges group owners which hinders its growth, Facebook groups, one too many for the same purpose, are not focussed and diluted.
Three IIT Bombay alumni — Aseem Khare, Amit Chahalia and Saurav Swaroop and a St. Stephens alumnus – Akanksha have launched Shaukk, which helps you to create hyper-local communities and connects you to like-minded people in your locality. It enables you to discover events and venues near you. You can make a plan, create a buzz, inspire others, and share information. At present it is only operational in Mumbai.
Birth of an idea
“I could never find enough people to jam with. The idea of travelling across the city everyday to jam was not feasible. I realised there were many others facing similar problems,” says Aseem. This set him off on a mission to make lives easier for those who are passionate about pursuing their hobbies or doing something meaningful.
The most striking feature of Shaukk is Local Interest Communities which brings all like-minded people in a particular locality together. Shaukk also provides accomplished individuals a platform to showcase their talent. Shaukk has entered into a partnership with stalwarts across different genres like lyricist and national award winner Swanand Kirkire, music director Shantanu Moitra, cricket analyst Vikram Sathaye and cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle among others.
The company launched a contest called ‘Tu Bawraa hai toh Chal’ (if you are as crazy and passionate as I am then come along) in July this year and it has been drawing significant interest. The startup claims to have over thousand active users without spending anything on marketing.
Importance of a team
The idea to develop something like Shaukk came to Aseem in 2011. Aseem was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers and then Nomura after graduating from IIT Bombay
“I started working on the idea with support from my colleagues and friends. Finally, I decided to live my passion full time and took charge as the CEO of Shaukk,” says Aseem.
Initially, things lacked pace but nevertheless he learnt a new lesson each day. “Finally, as the biggest lesson of my entrepreneurship journey, I realised the importance of a motivated team,” reveals Aseem. He thus decided to re-pick his team and interviewed two talented and youngest partners of Shaukk, Amit Chahalia and Saurav Swaroop, both IIT-B alumni. While Amit heads creatives, Saurav is CTO. Later, Akanksha came on board as marketing advisor. She has been working in a lead position at a top investment bank after graduating from St. Stephens College in 2007.
“As far as technology is concerned, a social network can’t be imagined without an intuitive design and features,” says Aseem. To build such a coherent website with little resources at first was a challenge. “We have a chicken and egg problem now. Users want events, and event management partners/brands want users,” says Aseem.
Shaukk plans to focus on a location at a time and start with a few interests, eventually becoming the one stop interest website in that locality. At the same time, the startup will scale up horizontally to other major cities in India. “After initial traction and good response, we are now looking for funding,” adds Aseem.