Social camera app for groups, Vebbler raises $500K angel fundingHarshith Mallya
Social camera app for groups Vebbler on Wednesday announced that it had raised an angel round of $0.5 million from a syndicate of 16 investors from different countries including India, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US, using LetsVenture's platform. The lead investors include Anupam Mittal, Founder and CEO of People Group; Sharad Sharma, Co-Founder of iSpirt; Venkat Raju, CEO of Kyron Accelerator; Pranav Pai and Siddarth Pai, Founding Partners of 3one4 Capital, and others.
Story so far, 2013-Present
Vebbler was founded in June 2013 by Sahil Bhagat and was initially positioned as a social network for meaningful conversations. At that time, Vebbler was based out of Mumbai and consisted of a team of seven. The idea for Vebbler struck Sahil, CEO of Vebbler, when he was in college. He adds,
Vebbler was always built as a platform for people to share moments with private groups, or as we call it - Clubs.
Based on feedback from their users, the team realised that social networks were shifting from textual to more visual content. Sahil also found that visual content was more spontaneous and also removed language barriers in most cases.
So Vebbler, which has now relocated to Bengaluru, tweaked its offering to a camera-first app designed to make sharing photos between groups at night outs, vacations and celebrations easier. Vebbler presently consists of a 16-member team, with 10 focussing on technology and the rest focussing on sales, marketing and other non-tech roles.
Sahil noted that most of us take hundreds of photos on our smartphones during a get-together with friends or family and then have the painstaking task of sharing and collating them afterwards. Sahil said,
As a result, we’d be left with an incomplete picture of the story most of the times. It is then that I realised that there had to be a better way for people to stitch together photos and videos of everyday moments of their lives.
Vebbler aims to eliminate the need and hassle of sharing photos through instant messaging apps, USB drives or cloud folders and provide a more seamless experience through their app.
How Vebbler works
On downloading Vebbler, users are prompted to create private 'clubs' and invite their friends or family to join the group. Currently, Vebbler allows users to create up to 50 groups and add 256 users per group.
Then as club members begin capturing and sharing photos, a real-time feed gets instantaneously created, syncing the experiences from everyone’s camera. Vebbler then stitches together the photos from different smartphones into one single timeline.
As a private-community focussed social network, Vebbler believes that users will be able to share moments that they would probably not share on other public platforms, allowing users to be more candid and real.
The team also envisions a variety of use cases from one-time events like road trips and music concerts to recurring moments and events with college friends or family. By default all the images shot remain on Vebbler's cloud, but users can hard press the photos they wish to back up on their phones.
Marketing and revenue model
Vebbler has so far relied mainly on social media and word of mouth to market their product. While the new app was recently launched on Android and iOS, Vebbler claims that it had gathered over 50,000 early sign-ups, mainly from college students, before the launch.
Vebbler is currently free to download and use and the team is not looking to monetise the platform immediately till they gain sufficient traction. But the long-term goal is to monetise through in-app purchases for features such as stickers and filters, which would provide enhanced functionality. On the B2B side, Vebbler also aims to launch 'public groups' to help users track live events by partnering with event organisers.
One of Vebbler’s lead investors, Anupam Mittal, Founder and CEO of People Group, said: “The investment in Vebbler is a part of, perhaps, the most ambitious initiative by an Indian startup to build a global consumer Tech Company. They are addressing a unique unarticulated need faced by most digital natives in the world.”
“As early-stage investors, we enjoy working with founders of product companies because they prove, by personal example that the intersection of passion, capability, perseverance, and lateral thinking leads to impressive results. This is a young team that will try everything possible to work with their core users to arrive at the best solution, and that is a fantastic process to be a part of,” added Pranav of 3one4 Capital.
Sector overview and future plans
Globally, social networks like Facebook has been giving preference to more visual content like videos in the newsfeed. Even social networks like Snapchat and Instagram, which rely heavily on the smartphone's camera, are leveraging photos and video as the primary means to communicate, pushing text messaging into a secondary role.
Vebbler's ultimate goal is to become the default camera app on smartphones. The team is working on further enhancing the product and aims to introduce more interactive features like GIFs to make interactions and reactions more seamless. They also aim to add video support to compliment their photo sharing features. Vebbler is currently focussing heavily on the Indian market and considers India to be an ideal launchpad to go global.