Croak.it! ; IIT Kharagpur grads bring ‘voice’ to an online platform, literally!

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So if you have watched the Oscar nominated movie King’s Speech, you’d know how the whole movie came down to this one scene when King George VI screams “Because I have a voice!” and realizing that in his heat and anger he has forgotten his stammer, the proud teacher Lionel Logue pauses, smiles and says softly “Yes, you do.”Yes, we do. We all have a voice. We all have a say. We all have our two cents to give, but what we don’t have is a platform to voice it on. So just like Lionel Logue does in the movie, two young IIT Kharagpur graduates, Srinivasa Teja and Protik Roychowdhury, decided to give us our voice. They decided to make communication online much more personal. Creating a platform for bathroom singers of their campus kicked it off. This platform allowed students to put up their songs and others would rate it, all anonymously. That’s where the idea found its seed and from there it snowballed into Croak.it (which they have recently launched). It is an online platform where one can express oneself using their voice instead of text, which is quite boring. Every unique voice stamp is called a croak on the platform.

So why croak? You may ask. Because croaks have a wide variety of uses, depending on the user! From personal messages to picture tagging to holiday wishes, a croak can allow you to make it that much more personal than a text box and 26 alphabets. The most awesome feature being you can croak anywhere on the internet!

“When you give something to people over the internet, you can’t imagine what all awesome things they do with it. It’s like they’ve gone all the way to show you the capacity of your product”, croaks Srinivasa himself. In just the three day testing that they did with a “Try it here” croak feature on the website, they got more than 10000 unique pageviews, and more than 1000 croaks tried and many thousands through their extensions. The feedback that they got was quite encouraging in the sense that people liked the fact that they could use their voice to berate, say hello to, and comment at friends, among others. One of the users had this to say, “Something much better than email!” The best reaction was “You’re doing something that is actually useful” Aah! Satisfaction! But what made their day was when they actually received a croak from a very elderly person wishing someone a happy birthday in Hindi!When you factor in that there was no publicity and advertising involved, but just the two of them croaking on websites like Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc. the numbers exceeded everyone’s expectations, including theirs. A two member team at present working full time, looking after the technical and business issues, both Protik and Srinivasa are still working towards making the product as smooth and easy to use as possible. Monetization is the next logical step after they have the perfect product. They have concrete plans for the monetization stage; however, right now they are focused on building a great product. It’s been 4 months since they became operational, though they’ve been working on it for about 6 months and are to launch a few novel and innovative features after www.Croak.it/ is public.

The market size is huge when you consider what Croak.it! has to offer. Obviously the major users will be in the range of 15-35 years, but considering that croaking allows you to express yourself in your own language (which is what text CANNOT do), the potential is huge. You can croak in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi et cetera. Also, the product aims at making online communication much easier for people who don’t know English well, handicapped individuals and kids as well! Croaking is easier than typing, that you won’t deny!But obviously, to make thing easy for the others, one has to make things difficult for oneself. Needless to say, Srinivasa and Protik too had their share of challenges in this entrepreneurial space. For starters, they bootstrapped and put in all the savings that they had to get this kick-started, although now they’re being incubated at iAccelerator, in IIM Ahmedabad.

They are now looking at funding opportunities as they feel they are at a stage where funding could help them reach the next level. However, one of the main challenges that they face now is finding good investment deals. Deals have to be good for both parties concerned, for them and the investors!

The investment scene in Technology startups is a bit different inIndiaas compared to US. The market is still nascent and developing. But then that is to be expected in a country such as ours.

“However, a shout out to iAccelerator for providing the platform and wherewithal to tech startups such as us!” croaks Protik. “iA is definitely the best available inIndia(in our opinion). More important than the incubation money are the things that you learn here & your experiences here. We can’t stress this enough. You often don’t realize it, but it is the people you have the opportunity to meet and interact with and the environment where you are working that is most valuable.”

So let’s add to the croaks and all be heard!

- Abhilasha Dafria