TiE Mobile Product Showcase: 9 new startups, and a question bank for app developers


Two of Bangalore’s favourite products – startups and beer – came together at the Arbor Brewing House for the TiE Mobile Product Showcase this week.

The Showcase is a monthly event organised by TiE Bangalore to help entrepreneurs showcase their products and get feedback from an expert panel of investors and business leaders. The elevator pitches and demos at the two-hour event were from nine startups who met the entry requirements: launch within the last two months, and not having pitched the product at any other event! They were shortlisted from a pool of over 70 applicants, and presented an eclectic collection of apps that kept the audience thoroughly engaged even after the pitches, during networking over beer.

SnapShopr is a visual search app for fashion shopping which lets consumers find desired products by using a photograph of the item instead of describing it through text. Other apps in this space are Slyce and Superfish. Founder Navneet Sharma, previously an AI researcher at VIT University, claims one of the advantages of his app is that users can buy dresses they see on Instagram and Pinterest, and also see similar patterns of different colours and sizes.

Hungry Bells is a hyperlocal, food and e-commerce app which matches user taste profiles and food dishes from popular kitchen brands. Founder Yuvaraj Thanikachalam says that 40 brands, 100 outlets and 5,000 users have signed up for it within the two months of the launch.

Safe Yatra provides safety alerts from passengers to their loved ones by using analytics to predict potential safety risks during travel. These include wide detours, unscheduled stops and the phone going out of range. People who are tracking their loved ones can also see them real time on a map. Other apps in this space are bSafe and Himmat. Co-founders Susheela, Snigdha, Pramod Kumar and Maneesh say that a fee of Rs. 2 per trip per user will be levied, and can eventually generate large enough revenue streams. Payment will be via mobile operator, and the app can be used for taxi, bus, rickshaws and other rides.

Yellow Messenger (‘beyond yellow pages’) lets consumers exchange free messages with businesses to get information, place orders, and get customer support. Businesses can engage with customers and send promotional messages. Founder Raghu Kumar says that over 10,000 messages have been exchanged so far. Out of the 4,000 users who have signed up, 200 are very active in extended conversations.

Beat Station is designed for fans of dance music, and gives users access to multiple artists playing genres like psy trance, deep house and drums and bass. Users can follow their favourite DJs and get included on guest lists for parties by the event organisers. The app has over 3,000 downloads and has signed up with independent labels to get streamed music from 365 artistes. Founder Ayush Agarwal says that the app has better features than SoundCloud, such as links to venues.

TBOX is a smart SMS TextBox that makes SMS communication a better experience for consumers and businesses. Users can create a clean and organised SMS inbox, with features like spam blocker, auto archive and smart labels. Founder Mihir Mohan says that plain SMS is too limited and email is too broad. Smart SMS has huge potential despite other solutions like WhatsApp; there are 977 million mobile users in India with SMS access and 3.4 billion users worldwide. In comparison, there are 100 million Facebook users in India and 110 million WhatsApp users. TBox SMS is good for enterprise and government use cases.

Briibe.me is a flash sale platform that connects users with businesses in real time. It allows restaurants and the offline brick-and-mortar stores to have flash sales just like the e-commerce sites. The current MVP has restaurants, cafes and pubs from Koramangala, and more neighbourhoods and cities are planned, says Founder Viraal Chhajer.

SwimIndia is an app targeted at learners of swimming, their parents and coaches, and the broader ecosystem of nutritionists, championships and clubs. It is a social networking platform and portal that helps swimmers track their performance and exchange tips. The app’s philosophy is “interact, inspire, achieve,” says Founder Venkata Rachur, who sees a big opportunity in India particularly since there is a dearth of information on swimming activities.

Freehit from Mocept offers quizzes, trivia and obscure statistics from the world of cricket across match formats and content formats (text, picture, video). It tests fans’ knowledge of cricket trivia and shares scores across users. There are over 3,000 questions which were circulated during 11 live quiz tournaments in 2015. Rs 18,000 has been distributed in cash prizes to the winners in the tournaments. The app has 70,000 downloads and 3.4 million pageviews. An updated app is being planned for the IPL season next, says Founder Pranay Jha. Mocept’s earlier offering, an educational video dictionary app, won it a place in YourStory’s Tech30 winners in 2014.

The audience at the event included other mobile startups and aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as investors, accelerators and larger IT firms. Founders’ pitches were followed by questions from an expert panel comprising: Karthee Madasamy, Managing Director, Qualcomm Ventures; Suresh Narasimha, CEO, TeliBrahma; Parag Dhol, Managing Director, Inventus Capital; and Deena Pinto, Program Lead, Kyron Accelerator.

Here are 20 questions asked during the discussion, which will be useful for other mobile startups as well (see also my earlier compilations, Startup Question Bank and Tips for Startups from Mobile India 2015).

  1. Where are the business metrics, not just the traffic metrics?
  2. What is so unique about your analytics algorithm?
  3. How many users do you have and what is the growth rate?
  4. How much traction are you getting per user?
  5. What percentage of consumers is using the app more than 5 times? 10 times? 100 times?
  6. How will you get support from potential partners like mobile operators?
  7. What is the use case for each target segment?
  8. What is the most significant use case?
  9. Are you location aware?
  10. How are you different from what Facebook, WhatsApp or Groupon offer?
  11. What is the size of your app?
  12. How does your app co-exist with existing and related apps?
  13. What is so special about your app as compared to your competitors?
  14. What criteria are the most important for users when they make app comparisons?
  15. How are you doing outreach to such a diverse and scattered audience?
  16. Can you think of a better name for your product?
  17. Does the local market need a new app, instead of a local version of an international app?
  18. How will you effectively collect revenues if the price of the app or service is so low?
  19. What is your revenue model other than ads? Can you do better than banner ads?
  20. Do you offer multi-player or group versions of your app?

We look forward to the next TiE Product Showcases already! See also YourStory’s pick of startup winners and expert quotes from the MobileSparks startup showcase.