A startup that grew with political movement: VoiceTree Technologies
It all started in 2011, when the mostly middle-class organizers of India Against Corruption (IAC) launched a campaign to mobilize the masses in support of a demand that they hoped would help bring about a corruption-free India. In its early stage then, VoiceTree partnered with IAC to provide voice solutions to the movement. It provided a number which people could call to understand the ideology behind Jan Lokpal Bill and India Against Corruption Movement.
“The campaign was an instant hit with an impact which aimed to jolt the youth of India to discuss government policies and question the authority. This was also the movement which lead to the birth of another political party, AAP,” says Ankit Jain, CEO and Co-founder, VoiceTree Technologies.
As a logical next step in the endeavor to spread awareness among Indians, VoiceTree backed the AAP’s helpline. They also provided missed call campaigns so that the people of India could register their support or dissent to the movement. “The main driver of success in all these campaigns was the mobile penetration in India. To get an opportunity to handle such high volumes of calls and responses and maintaining that infrastructure gave them the confidence to target the market with their innovation,” adds Ankit.
After the success of AAP Delhi, attributed to their call campaign, among the many steps they took to garner support, VoiceTree drew a lot of attention in the political landscape. “Convinced by AAP’s victory, and the role of call campaign in crowdsourcing the success, a number of other parties approached us for varied voice based solutions,” says Ankit. Consequently the startup started mass calling, SMS and missed call campaigns for parties, including BJP, RSS, and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
Due to the high volume requirements of political campaigns, it helped VoiceTree to develop its core infrastructure and rigorously tested competencies. “We also keep our emphasis on providing constituency-wise helplines which can be created directly on our flagship product, MyOperator,” points out Ankit.
General election 2014 and role of technology
This election season, in the tussle between social media and mobile campaigns, mobile won the bigger pie. As mobile phones connect to a much broader and deeper voter base -- mass calling and SMS campaigns are being used to promote the agenda of the political parties to the voters. Meanwhile, missed calls are being used so that voters can register their support for the parties.
VoiceTree sucessfully enabled the largest call campaign in India for the AAP's Delhi election. “In these call campaigns, a caller can call a toll-free number to be connected to a citizen of his constituency. Below is the snapshot (with data points) of how VoiceTree powered AAP’s IVR calling:
- AAP is using the call campaign for it's major constituencies.
- It is using over 300 parallel channels in two major constituencies (Amethi and Benaras).
- Over 11 lakh calls have already been made till date by 28,000 volunteers.
- It handles 20,000 calls/day for a single constituency, as the campaign intensifies.
With these campaigns, AAP is targeting to reach over 2 lakh people in each constituency which have over 10,000 volunteers each. “As compared to the Delhi campaign, the number of simultaneous lines being accessed at any time has significantly increased,” reveals Ankit.
Also, VoiceTree has provided separate helplines to AAP in many constituencies through it’s call management solution, MyOperator, to enable new volunteer enrollments and to address their region specific requirements. Besides this campaign for AAP, VoiceTree is providing call blasts, SMS campaigns and missed call engagement service to various other political parties.
How election matters to the startup
If there is enough work for a startup they know they are doing it right. While taking up political projects was never the intent of VoiceTree, they developed a sound technological edge by getting an opportunity to handle huge traffic and providing 24 hour support. It also helped strengthen the customer confidence.