Technology has changed the way we communicate and made it easier and faster to pass on important information. But, sometimes, the large volume of conversations happening across different platforms makes it difficult for people to keep up and retain context.
OriginApp aims to solve these pain points and help users connect and communicate with their contacts in a more seamless and intuitive manner. Aimed at boosting productivity for both parties involved in a conversation, the app allows users to create custom profiles, figure out the best time to call people based on their availability, and also add context to calls.
How it works
Currently available for users in India, the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore and the UK, users need to sign up and verify their contact number. They can then create their own customer profile with the help of predesigned templates in the app. The user profile doubles as a smart caller ID for calls made to users who are on the OriginApp platform.
Users also have the option to make changes and update their profile in case there is a change in their circumstances such as a job or location. On the other hand, users get updates whenever their contacts modify their profiles. The app helps users manage contacts from the default (Google) app or other contact apps.
Some interesting features include
Callnote: Users can type a short 60-character note that pops up along with the username while calling a person. However, for this to work, both users need to have the app installed. Otherwise, the ‘callnote’ is sent as an SMS to a recipient who doesn’t have the app.
Active Status: Users can pick one of three status options- Available, Urgent calls only or Do Not Disturb (DND) as their status message to let potential callers know about their availability and the best time to communicate.
Deeper search: Based on the profile details entered, users can also search their contact list based on profession, company name, and other variations apart from the regular search feature based on contacts’ names.
‘HIYA’: Comparable to Facebook’s poke, or the popular ‘Yo’ app, users can greet each other with a ‘HIYA’ to get the recipients’ attention.
Story so far
OriginApp was cofounded by Pramod Ghorpade (39) and Dinesh Kumar (37) and the startup currently has a 17-member team. Pramod and Dinesh have close to 36 years of work experience between them. The idea for the venture came to them over coffee when they started discussing how communication is evolving and what the next era of communication would be like.
To translate their thoughts to reality, they went ahead and studied the sector across multiple countries and found that more than 85 per cent of people across all generations still prefer to use voice calls, texts and e-mails as primary forms of communication instead of the more popular social media channels where people spend a lot of time.
So they decided to work on a way to make communicating with contacts more seamless. They believe that the next wave of social communication will directly originate and rely on phonebook contacts. Talking about current issues and the need for a dynamic phonebook and other features, Dinesh said,
The current scenario is such that most of our contacts are outdated, and lack details and context on who is calling and whom I am calling. We also seem to get to know about the actual scenario only after calling someone. Thus, there is a lot of inefficiency.
So, OriginApp aims to help users manage their contacts better and also connect with people at the right time. Dinesh’s goal is to make their platform the single point for everything related to contacts including and integrating communication, calendar, organiser and social tools. OriginApp currently includes WhatsApp integration; it soon plans to include Skype, Wechat, Viber, and other platforms as well.
Talking about the safety of user data and custom profiles created on the platform, Dinesh added that they do not store any contact information directly on their cloud servers and consider users’ privacy to be a top priority.
OriginApp is free for users and the team is currently working on an advertising platform based on localisation, personalisation and context to help them monetise the platform in the future. Bootstrapped so far, the startup feels there is potential for such a solution in India and abroad. Currently available only for Android users, the team is developing an iOS app.
With smartphones gaining prominence worldwide, startups and enterprises are looking to interact with consumers in a more personal manner and active mobile numbers are the best data points for businesses to leverage.
Truecaller is the biggest player in this space and claims to have access to over two billion mobile numbers, globally. They recently launched their SDK and gave 12 Indian startups early access to connect with customers. Rapportive, which was acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, is an interesting solution that helps users leverage information about their e-mail and LinkedIn contacts.
OriginApp is trying to solve the tough problem of making contacts more useful and relevant. Some interesting startups and solutions in this space include Colorado-based Fullcontact, which provides person-based insights for professionals, enterprises, and developers; CallTag, which sends a text message with custom tags to provide context before a call; Status, which automatically updates contacts when a person is free. So, there is sufficient market validation for OriginApp about the need for their platform and the complexity of the problem.
What we liked
OriginApp is a well-thought-out and executed app that aims to ‘kills two birds with one stone’. The ability to add Callnotes and set statuses based on availability makes communication with business contacts more seamless.
Custom profiles that can be updated at any time and features like ‘HIYA’ add to the app’s functionality and usefulness. The search functionality, which goes beyond just names and allows users to search based on other data points, is also a useful feature.
What could be improved
While OriginApp lives up to its promise, there is room for improvement and minor tweaks that could make the app more useful. Currently, there are no restrictions on the HIYA feature and users could annoy their contacts with endless pings. Dinesh confirmed that they plan to restrict this feature, based on user feedback, to prevent misuse.
Dinesh also confirmed that they will allow users to associate certain tags for themselves and other users in the next update of the app, to further enhance their search tool.
With smartphones becoming the centre of the Internet universe and mobile numbers being part of our digital identities, OriginApp wants to help users build their ‘mobile identity’ and leverage their personal and professional contacts in a more hassle-free manner. With a lean team that has bootstrapped their way so far, it will be interesting to see how the developers of OriginApp further improve their product and how they crack their business model.
What do you think about this app, do let us know in the comments below. Also do check out other apps under our App Fridays series.