The creator of SMSBlocker, Optinno Mobile Tech, is back with another app, called SmartBro, which the company believes can empower prepaid mobile customers to know their balance on every transaction. The company hopes to clear the confusion over the operator‘s plan validity and provide bills for customers, which is unheard of in a prepaid data plan. The app was built with an intention to save money for consumers by empowering them with information on their spending patterns within a data pack. Also, the app will allow the user to handle multiple accounts. For example it allows a person to recharge a prepaid account of a family member or a friend in a peer group.
The app was built in 18 months by the two-man engineering team of Optinno, Sagar Bedmutha and Amol Benare. The company is confident that SmartBro could replicate ten times the success of SMSBlocker, which has 2.4 million downloads and was also its first venture into app stardom.
Sagar says, “We want this app to wipe out the uncertainty that exists in the prepaid market.” He adds that the app can automatically recommend plans that suit consumers the best.
The app was built after studying the opportunity which exists on Android phones in developing markets. Ninety-five percent of India is on prepaid plans and there are over 100 million prepaid users using low-end smartphones. Optinno expects that there will be 400 million Android users in the country by 2020.
Raising money and the business model
The company, which is currently a four-member team, will raise money to increase its current team size and also increase visibility of Optinno’s future iterations of the product. There will be data scientists and user interface engineers as part of the team by the end of the year. The company wants to use the data generated from the app to work with brands for their mobile advertising strategy. However, the SmartBro' app itself will not be open to advertising as a revenue model. The company also hopes to integrate with payment gateways and leading recharge commerce companies to increase stickiness. Sagar says that the app is only 2.3 MB in size, which also makes it one of lightest apps to use up space in the smartphone.
“There are several startups that are trying to build similar businesses. But opportunities to understand data generated from this segment can be monetised in the long run,” says V. Balakrishnan, Founder, StartupXseed.
The competition for SmartBro will be from Mubble Networks, which was the first to launch a prepaid pack bill tracker. Mubble has had a million downloads. Others in this space are BillBachao and SmartApp. Optinno believes it can crack one of the largest Android markets of the world because there are only six companies competing in such a large user base of prepaid customers. In the end, the company needs to scale up first and build data services, which can make mobile operators take advantage of the expertise such startups bring in, increasing the stickiness of a consumer to a particular mobile network. All Optinno has to do is be optimistic and crack a business model after user acquisition.