It's ironic that hunting for an app in an App Store or Play Store works like a browser search engine. App discovery is possibly one of the biggest problems both consumers and publishers face. In order to make this easier WhichApp was born. It's about the apps that are there and the ones that should be there. It helps you find apps that your friends use.
WhichApp believes that the app stores aren't built with the mobile-first consumer in mind. Even for more evolved users, word of mouth from friends and family is the top way to find apps. Besides, socially recommended users for any app have the highest user quality score among all marketing and acquisition channels. WhichApp automates this word of mouth, but keeping user's experience and privacy as most important.
The team's eureka moment
Kapil Chawla and Pradeep Paijwar had begun their careers together in the research team at C-DAC. After that the duo went in different directions, but got back together when Kapil decided to startup PingOO – a rewards network for mobile games and apps with Asad Raza and Sambhrant Sahajpal. It was this team that got together to start WhichApp.
It was during PingOO days, when the team spoke to app and game publishers, everyone's challenge was being discovered. "And then suddenly we realised if I could know what my friends (and possibly friends of friends) are using that could be interesting and a graph of the usage their apps and their friends apps would be of immense value. We spoke to a few hundred users and sought their feedback. The response was very encouraging and WhichApp took shape," says Kapil.
Addressing the elephant in the room
Kapil believes that most are currently focussed on monetising their media inventory for app install ads, and very few are making attempts at solving App discovery. Kapil says that one company which is solving the App Search as a problem is Quixey.
Fundamentally, Kapil says, search and discovery are different sides of the same coin leading to a transaction. He adds that launchers and productivity apps like Hola Launcher, Apus and Aviate are another way the problem can be attempted. "We've been focussed on iterating and learning before we push for user growth," says Kapil.
The app has had close to one lakh downloads and most of them are friends of existing users. Kapil says that for a social product like theirs' it is very critical to crack the social graph and much needed virality, which they have been able to do to a good extent and hope to push the viral factor with the next release.
"And the hypothesis that users will find information about apps that their friends use has been proven. We are seeing a trend where the inherent dynamics of app stores – rich get richer while the poor get poorer are getting disrupted," adds Kapil.
Building the team
He adds that the team doesn't incentivise their users either installs apps or invite their friends. They've had a few app publishers approach them for promoting their apps, but right now the team is not looking to monetise and are focussed only on the consumer and their experience.
Kapil says they are a lean team and all of them work across the stack in their specific domain. “We hire for attitude and passion and empower people to punch way above their weight. Culture is informal yet focussed on high performance and ownership," adds Kapil.
Growth and plans
The team has raised a small seed round mostly from friends and a couple of angels. These include Vikram Chachra (Eight Capital), Ravi Srivastava (Purvi Capital), Pallav Pandey and some executives from companies like PwC, Cisco, JP Morgan, and Practo.
Kapil says they've had their learnings from the initial phase of the product rollout and are focussed on improving the user experience and fixing the gaps. India is their primary and first market but they believe this is a global opportunity and product. “Once we are comfortable, we will launch the product for other android markets as well in mid Q1 2016. We aim to cross five million users by December 2016 for India," adds Kapil.
With close to 1.4 million apps in the Play Store and 1.5 million in the App Store, app discovery is one of the biggest discussions among marketers. Many believe that standing out in a store will continue to be more challenging. It is in fact believed that close to 83 per cent of the apps are Zombie of apps that just do not appear on the top lists. While a definite problem, will another platform solve the problem?