Mumbai-based Perchh brings interest-based social network

perchhIn an ever-increasing maze of information and data on the web, imagine if there was a search-engine which allows you to interact and meet with people who love the same things which you are passionate about. Human emotions and interest are fickle. For instance, one day you may want to find a person who loves solving crosswords, another day you may seek out someone to debate on Bachchan’s greatest dialogues.

Social networking giant like Facebook offers us a social utility to deepen connectivity within our existing social graphs. Interest-based social networks have a markedly different focus and approach than Facebook. The Pinterests and Foodspottings of the world enable users to organize and express their interests in a new and engaging ways. Mumbai-based Perchh also subscribes to and builds on the above philosophy – that there can be an entirely new set of dots that can lead you to engage with complete strangers.

It takes information about your interests, blends it with other information about you that you would like to share and then using its proprietary algorithm it shows you other people who have similar interests. The Perchh difference is that it makes your interest graph work harder by making it a people discovery engine.

Team behind Perchh

Founded by Shweta Sharma and Neha Sareen, Perchh is supported by Idea Wave Labs, an incubator and growth partner in the internet space. Shweta has spent over a decade with the biggest advertising agencies like Lowe Lintas, Ogilvy & Mather, Grey Worldwide and Publicis Ambience, while Neha spent a decade working with leading TV networks like Neo Sports and Sony Pix. She holds a Masters in Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University (USA) with a perfect GPA (4.0).

How the idea clicked?

shwetaThe first version of Perchh called Ditto, focused on connecting people with similar interests around the premise of dating. “Ditto saw tremendous resonance in its beta stage, which led us to realize that people really liked meeting people with similar interests, even beyond the context of dating,” says Shweta. Post which she decided to expand the idea to include all such interactions and Perchh was born.

Initial challenges and competition

Getting the product design right was the key challenge for the team. It called for an in-depth understanding of barriers and inhibitions people feel when they are interacting with strangers on a new network (as opposed to the safe and secure feeling of interacting with friends and family on social networks).

“We looked at real life, observed how people behaved when they entered a party full of strangers and then started drawing parallels between the online and offline world. For example, if you are a social drinker and enter a party where you do not know many people, you will  gravitate to the bar,” explains Shweta.

There exist a few Similar platforms in the International markets like Branch.com, iTimes.com (TIL owned), So.cl.com  (Microsoft owned).

Traction

The company has been in beta since October last year without any social media campaign and marketing activity.  “We have been focussing on getting the product right. Now two months later, we have around 400 users on Perchh. Google analytics show that by first week of this month, our repeat visitor rate was 60%. We have had over 5000 visits, 23,000 page views with an average time spent on Perchh being 10 minutes and there are 4.5 pages/visit ,” reveals Shweta.

Road ahead

“Humans are inherently social creatures and we define ourselves, both, by the people we know and our interests. Both social media and interest networks approach and enhance our lives from different angles,” states Shweta. Hence Perchh believes that in the future both interest-based networks and social networks will co-exist and bring different value to a person.

The startup plans to raise first round of funding and develop mobile apps across iOS and Android. “We will launch social media campaigns to acquire users and aim to make Perchh synonymous with interest-graph based connectivity in India and then South East Asia,” she adds.