How two IITians created Zumbl - an online platform to connect likeminded people, when they got bored of college

By Shreyansh Singhal|24th Jun 2013
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Facebook started the trend of people adding conversations to their lives in spite of unfamiliarity and now the new product on the block is Zumbl, a chat platform that connect you with strangers who have common interests like you so that you can connect to engage in meaningful yet full-of-fun conversations.

Zumbl
Abhishek (left) and Saurabh (middle)

Since starting operations in 2012, Zumbl has grown to adding a new user in every 40 seconds and a chat session starting in every 10 seconds! Co-founder Abhishek Gupta says they continue to be an extremely agile startup and introduce new product upgrades every second week. Founders Abhishek Gupta (21) and Saurabh Kumar (19) have studied computer science, but dropped out from IIT Delhi to join incubation at Digital Media Zone, Toronto from August to November, 2012 and now they are back again to resume their studies at IIT Delhi. They currently have a team size of 8 members, comprising students from IIT Delhi and BITS Goa. They operate from a rented office cum flat at Malviya Nagar, New Delhi.

Their introductions this week include real time chats within the groups like entrepreneurs (which has 4,640 members), music lovers etc. This figure clearly shows that Zumbl has been successful in attracting many entrepreneurs from different sectors. “YourStory and Quora have been instrumental in getting this niche of users to Zumbl,” says Abhishek.


avtar_zumbl

On Zumbl, avatars not only increase the visual appeal of the user profile but they also have a utility value. The avatar of a user describes the personality of the user based on how other users on the site perceive him to be. In the upgraded version which released on 21 June, users were given avatars reflective of the tags they have received by other users which they had chat with so far. These black n’ white avatars would be upgradable to coloured ones, soon says Chaitali Pandit, handling Marketing and Communications at Zumbl.

Also, working on the feedbacks, they realized the need for preferential filters. And they then came up with the idea of Groups so that they can ‘Chose who you want to talk to’. Moreover getting a step closer to the making Zumbl customized they are also introducing the feature of ‘Chose what you want to talk about’ in a way that has never been explored by any other social networking platform before!

He exclaims their idea of groups is different than Yahoo! chat rooms, as the focus is on one-to-one interactions, and on top of that they have a “moderation” layer like Quora or Wikipedia to ensure that reports are dealt manually with care by the top users, thereby making users responsible for maintaining decorum on the site.

Chats are moderated by top users and whenever a report is raised against someone and this can be done anytime during the chat for a discriminatory behaviour or profane language etc. Once a report has been raised the moderation is done by the top users who check for the report by also going through the snapshot of the chat that has take place and then strict actions are taken against the defaulters. Following is a typical window that a moderator can see and one that users can see:


moderation_zumbl

Abhishek answers on why moderation is required for Zumbl which they realised soon after the launch as it has always been to promote meaningful conversations is a safe environment. Upon receiving 100-200 reports everyday made by user they came up with a moderation layer where the top users who have been actively using Zumbl do it for free carefully go through each report and make decisions based on their best judgement.

Abhishek says that every new feature they add gets them closer to their vision – that of helping users search other users based on interests, and other filters, and engage with each other in meaningful conversations. The student startup is currently focussing on growth and scalability. According to Abhishek there are three T’s important for the success of venture - Team, Technology and Targeted growth and it is these three indices that he says they will always be focused on in the journey.

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