Thiruvananthapuram-based Swapp allows business to build an app at the cost of a taxi rideRekha Balakrishnan
Swapp is a B2B2C platform from Thiruvananthapuram that helps businesses and organisations build an app, and connect with their customers and members directly without relying on chat platforms.
Small towns are great test pads for startups. But one may wonder why. Bavani Srinu, Co-founder of Swapp, gives a plausible reason. Launching in a city like Thiruvananthapuram gave Bavani’s startup the need and market acceptance at a much lower cost than what she would have had to spend in a tier-I city.
She explains, “When we launched Swapp as a minimum viable product a year ago in Thiruvananthapuram, our thoughts were to see how the market accepts an innovative concept, take cues from the responses and develop a more robust platform.”
What is Swapp?
Swapp is an easy-to-use app for consumers to interact with businesses, organisations or people that are a part of their daily lives. The premise is basic and simple - why spend thousands of dollars when you can have your own app for less. As less as the cost of a taxi ride.
For example, if you are looking for blood donors in Thiruvananthapuram, you can find them through the Trivandrum Indian Blood Bank app, which was released on Swapp. This is one among the many services available on the platform. Similarly, you can order food from a restaurant or book an appointment at a salon.
Why does Swapp make sense? Bavani reveals research to support her concept.
“Eighty percent of standalone apps are deleted within three months after download, small businesses lose customer loyalty to big brands and moreover, it is expensive to develop and maintain mobile apps.”
Bavani calls herself a “global citizen”, having lived in different places with illustrious careers in construction, fashion and events, specifically in marketing.
While she was working in Dubai in 2012, she met Ashwin Panicker, the founder of Swapp. By 2015, the idea of Swapp firmed up and the duo ran a pilot in Kochi in 2013 by getting 13 schools on board. The startup was finally launched in Thiruvananthapuram in November 2017.
“Swapp is a B2B2C platform that helps an end user do many things, relevant for her in daily life. It is also a platform that helps businesses/organisations connect with their customers/members directly without having to rely on chat platforms like WhatsApp or develop and maintain a customised standalone mobile app. We e-enable small businesses to go digital so they do not lose their market share,” says Bavani.
“Swapp is a B2B2C platform that e-enables SMEs to get a mobile app for their business in a few minutes via templates at the cost of a taxi ride. It also functions like an e-wallet, saving time and space in users’ mobile phones, helping them to connect with things that are important for their daily lives. Schools, churches, clinics, restaurants, fishmongers, B2B supplies, pet shops are some of the examples of businesses who can host their app on Swapp instantly,” she adds.
The process is simple - sign up, upload details, share your Swapp id with customers and do business online. Yes, it’s as simple as that! A one-time registration will give you access to the Swapp Store where you can connect with other services that will not take up much memory space. You can get the basic version for as low as Rs 499.
So, you don't really need to download individual apps. Swapp becomes a single app on your phone that would open multiple apps from one place.
Working in a small city like Thiruvanathapuram has had its pros and cons for Swapp. “Small towns have a community feel, where entrepreneurs are able to get a little closer to the ground. We are also able to keep our cost low in terms of rental, salaries and overall living costs. The cons, however, is in finding good tech resources here to work for startups,” says Bavani.
Swapp is currently bootstrapped, but claims to have a healthy cash flow. “The product has to be improved now and relaunched as a global product in different markets. We are talking about organising an unorganised segment that is huge. We aim to launch Swapp in new markets by start of 2019. Having seen market acceptance for couple of business verticals in Swapp, we are all set to develop Swapp Ver 2.0,” she adds.
Bavani points out that Thiruvananthapuram is a laid back city and unlike metros, any new introduction is not readily accepted here. “We thought that if we are able to crack this market, then we should be able to enter other markets with more confidence.”