Mayank Kumar, @Offline, Communication System to Keep in Touch

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Mayank, please tell us what @Offline is all about.

@Offline is basically a web service provider which enables you to ask your friends out for a coffee or make plans to go to your favorite places with them.

How is @Offline different from other players in this field?

We are uniquely positioned in this domain because no other service enables you to make fluid plans with your friends, backed by a robust system of communication. There are websites on which one can create ‘events’ and ‘meet-ups’, but people do not use them for personal get-togethers because they are not tailored for such use. When you create a plan @offline, it remains among your closed network of friends. You can also block or unblock people in your network individually to protect the privacy of your plans. Once you create a plan that is visible, @offline discovers your friends who are doing similar things and gives a way to join them.

How did the idea for @Offline come about? How much capital was required to implement this idea? The concept behind @offline emerged from the need to ease the effort needed to go out with friends and grab a coffee. However, calling friends and checking who is free every time we go out is painful. That's when I thought how about building a system where friends could just put in their plans to go out and then get connected automatically! Next day, I discussed this idea to Aman and Nirmit and we never looked back after that. The entire software infrastructure was created using open source technologies and thus, no capital investment has been made in creating @offline till now.

Tell us about your background.

I have completed my B.Tech and M.tech from IIT Delhi and have worked with software corporations like Samsung and Adobe. I am currently working as director of engineering for a start-up and also am the founder of @offline. I am presently looking after all the software and hardware engineering efforts @offline.

What is @Offline’s revenue model?

We are working on a revenue model that we believe would result in immediate value to restaurants, entertainment and local travel businesses across the globe.How big is the team behind @Offline?

Aman Sagar who is a Post Graduate in Information and Digital Design from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and is presently looking after the UX design and product management @offline along with Nirmit Bothra who is a business student from Pune University and I are the co founders of @Offline. Currently we are a team of 3 people.

What are the challenges you faced while developing your concept?

The most interesting problem that we face every day is about whether the product will fit with users’ expectations. We receive a lot of feedback everyday, which is often contradicting. We map it with our road map and priorities to decide what would make for an interesting experiment. We keep rolling out new stuff every three days and the cycle of improvements goes on.

How has the journey been so far? Let us know about your expansion plans.So far it has been a smooth ride for us. The acceptance of @offline has grown a lot since its launch. People who earlier told us that they do not go out are now avid @offliners and their evenings are much more joyful. @offline has so far been promoted only through word of mouth in personal networks. Since we are based in New Delhi, most of our users are coming from here only. We are currently talking to various coffee chains across India for potential tie-ups and a leading one has shown special interest in @offline. They believe that it is the right platform for them to attract new customers because it primarily uses the metaphor of a coffee to call friends out. We are still in the middle of the talks and should be finalizing a deal with them very soon.

As of now most of @offline users are based in India and we are aiming to market it in USA and Europe once we launch the mobile apps. We are targeting iOS and Android in the first phase and will roll out Blackberry app in the second phase. After that we would work towards expanding the scope to accommodate pre-planning activities and post-planning actions to turn @offline into a platform.

We at YourStory.in wish Mayank and @Offline much success. To know more about this venture, check out http://www.atoffline.com/. Also, let us know your views on this story by writing to us at feedback@yourstory.in