Location, businesses, friends and family and safety- you name it, and there’s an app for it! Apps have made accessibility easier. Estimates made in April 2014 show that by 2016, the app market is set to grow at least four times to over INR 3800 crores, with paid apps contributing Rs. 2065 crores. Now with biggies like Flipkart discontinuing their mobile sites and making them app only, we can safely say that apps in India are growing at a break-neck speed.
It's not just the big players in the foray, there are smaller startups too venturing into the space of mobile apps. Of these, apps that help you find local businesses are fast growing. This is no surprise with reports that claim, 95 percent of smartphone users in India, search for local businesses on their phones.
One of the most recent to enter the fray is Toost by Phone Warrior. This app helps you search and find local businesses that are used and recommended by your friends. As the need to utilise different kinds of services with varying levels of complexity increases, more businesses feel the need to enter the virtual world. While players like Justdial has been able to create online directories, they aren't able to do the trust factor in. This is where Toost comes to play.
"There is no better way to bring in the element of trust other than your friends’ network," says Rohit Raghav, co-founder, Phone Warriors.
What does the app do?
Once the app is installed in your phone, and you are, let's say, looking for a doctor, the app shows all the doctors that friends in your network go to and recommend. The premise of the app is that, we generally know our friends well, and we also know who has a similar mindset as ours. So if such a friend uses a service, it gives you the assurance that you can try it out.
"We aim to bring the trust of word-of-mouth into the search of local businesses," says Rohit. Unlike a Frilp, the search and discovery of local businesses on Toost is through your phone network. People usually have only close friends and family in their phone network, and these are people they truly trust.
Toost supplements the directory services with offerings like caller ID and call blocking. This ensures that businesses that spam you with multiple calls and offerings can be blocked. Most of the data is driven by the people in your network. "Today, there isn't any platform where you can look for a trusted service provider, at least not in our scale. We are very technology-oriented, to top it we have a real-time presence on the phone graph," adds Chandan.
Currently there isn't a monetisation plan for the app, however, the team is planning a merchant side of the solution. "There can be contextual advertising. If a user is looking for a doctor and a hospital is nearby, the hospital can display an ad for the user. It could also be used to rate businesses especially services that are large. You can give feedback within a few minutes," says Rohit.
The team believes that the scalability of this app is open to a global audience. Toost essentially offers its users services, recommendations on those services and a post service feedback. However, the product is in its beta version so all the services may not be present. "We will be adding innovations with a more formal launch of the product," adds Rohit.
Toost, already has over 750 million people and business data in their systems, and are live in top five cities of the country. Early this month, Toost was among the top trending apps on Google Play in the communications category. There are over 5 million businesses on the system and over 1.2 million downloads.