How Jiny’s assistive UI platform is cracking the success code for enterprises wanting to reach out to the next billion
Onboarding Reliance Jio as its first enterprise client proved to be a huge validation for Jiny. “It helped to answer the questions regarding our ability to answer scale in the enterprise market,” says Kushagra, CEO & Co-founder, Jiny.
With the rise in smartphone and internet penetration and the opportunity it presents, app localisation has been THE buzz word in the app market in India, where businesses are going after ‘Bharat’ - beyond India’s metros and big cities. And, a lot of strides in app localisation have happened , particularly in language localisation.
A gateway for the next billion
“Yet, out of 500 million smartphone users in India, only 20 percent, i.e about 100 million transact online. Which means that the rest are using their smartphones to simply watch videos, message, or call,” explains Kushagra Sinha, CEO & Co-founder, Jiny, a Bengaluru based startup that has built the world’s first Assistive UI Platform that makes mobile apps Bharat-friendly.
This is why he believes app localisation which limits itself to language localisation falls short. “At the core, it fails to address the design challenge. It fails to break down the complexity of the interface, making app navigation an intimidating experience for users.” Explaining further, he says, “Even to carry out a simple task such as booking a train or bus ticket online, paying bills, it involves seven or eight steps and multiple screens. This can quickly become a challenge for Bharat users. This is why, while language localisation is important, by itself it will not solve the problem. Even when people will understand the language, they will fail to comprehend the interface.”
This is where Jiny comes into play. Jiny is the world’s first Assistive UI Platform, recognising what’s on the user’s screen and guiding them, hyper-contextually. This makes mobile apps a lot more Bharat-friendly and easy to use. The guidance is human-like - an experience similar to having someone sit beside the user and guide them. Jiny speaks the users’ native language and handholds them at every step in their journey. This works across all app pages, including third-party payment gateways and bank’s OTP authentication pages. “With Jiny, users know exactly what to do next, where to click and why” With a vernacular audio layer on top, Jiny speaks all major Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali & Tamil. “So even if an app is in English, it can assist users in their local language.”
Creating a unique digital hand-holding solution
A UX researcher at Flipkart, Kushagra met Sahil Sachdeva, then a software developer and systems architect, at an internal hackathon at Flipkart. The two then started Jiny to build an Assistive UI platform, which would be a platform for product teams to drive success with Bharat/ Next Billion users through assisted interactions.
“The idea evolved from a simple thought - what if there was someone sitting beside you who could tell you how to use an app which you struggle to use otherwise. What if someone handholds a Bharat user in the same way so that they can access, discover and transact on the digital applications?” says Sahil.
The first year of the startup journey was dedicated to building the assistive UI platform. “It was a complex thing to build, specifically because it had to seamlessly run on a third-party app and also because it resided on the top layer of the app UI. It took time to build the content context detection technology, and the functionalities to the SDK to ensure that the user experience for the end-user was non-intrusive and engaging, in addition to various other components of the assistive UI platform. “A lot of effort and thought went into designing how Jiny detects any context on a user’s screen and guides a user using assisted interactions,” says Sahil. In essentially a few months, Kushagra and Sahil, supported by a single developer, built Jiny as a B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. “Once we reached the Beta stage, in early 2019, we began looking to make inroads into the enterprise system.
It was during this time, they applied to the JioGenNext programme. “Getting into the JioGenNext accelerator was one of our strategies to get access to the ecosystem, mentors and even raise capital.”
A game-changing experience
Getting to be part of the JioGenNext accelerator helped to strengthen their competencies and business understanding and make inroads into the ecosystem. In fact, soon after getting into the accelerator, Jiny raised a seed round of $720,000 from 3one4 Capital, Ankur Capital, and angels, including Rajesh Sawhney, Phaninder Sama, Ambiga Subramanian, among others.
But, what turned out to be a game-changer was that the accelerator helped Jiny bag its first enterprise client -- Reliance Jio. “It was while at JioGenNext , we got introduced to the management team at Jio and pitched to them soon after. Jio was able to see the value that we were able to bring. They were focused on the next billion users that would come online. And more importantly, they knew where they needed to drive usage of the app among their users. For us, it was an opportunity to showcase scale. Additionally, it was also an opportunity to address the diversity of use-cases. So, it was a milestone which was significant for more reasons than one.”
It took about four months for the integration and Jiny went live in three Indian languages on MyJio App.
“Jiny was applied to the recharge flow on the app. And, we started seeing results month on month.”
The engagement also helped Jiny to closely gauge how enterprises operate at scale. “Jiny now completes integrations in less than a week. That’s how far we’ve come.” says Sahil.
The engagement with Jio proved to be a huge validation for Jiny in the enterprise market. “As a startup that is solving a problem differently, your validity is often questioned. At the same time, enterprises are often unsure if the startup can manage the scale at which they operate. The Jio engagement helped to reduce that friction for us.” says Kushagra.
Today, they are working with over 10 enterprise customers and several other growth-stage companies across e-commerce, fintech and social commerce. Experiments are also live with leading players across travel and other segments.
While onboarding Jio has helped to showcase impact, the startup is driving further growth by strategically driving pilots. “ What we realised was that we needed to show how Jiny is relevant to every business vertical that exists today. So one strategy that worked for us is to do pilots with enterprises across sectors. On one hand, it helps to showcase impact, iron out their doubts. On the other hand, we are able to get further insights about the segment. And, leveraging the industry insights helps to make our pitches more relevant to other clients in the vertical.”
Today, Jiny serves more than 1 million users across all their integrations. And, given the pace at which they are aiming to grow, the startup says that the number is likely to shoot up to 100 million by the end of 2022.
Why driving digital adoption is the key, not just digital access
The startup believes that currently, Jiny is unique and has no direct competitors in the space. “But, a lot of them are solving the problem that we too are by leveraging voice tech. While we believe it solves the problem differently, there are additional challenges for voice-based solutions considering India has a large number of dialects and languages and getting to train the voice solutions in these various languages and dialects can get challenging. Also, the technology is just evolving. That said, we see voice-based solutions as a competition, though they are indirect competition.”
Given the absence of direct competition and a need to empower the next billion users, the startup believes Jiny can play a key role in driving digital adoption among the vernacular Bharat at pace. “Digital impact can’t happen only through digital access, we need to drive digital adoption to see the impact. And, Jiny’s assistive UI platform can make it happen.”
Jiny is looking to expand its 11-member team and is actively looking for talent to join them as they continue to drive growth. While the primary focus will be on the Indian enterprise market, the team is parallely working to venture out to other developing markets like Africa, Brazil and South East Asia. In fact, they are already running market research as well as experiments in the African market. ” Jiny does not have any roadblocks when it comes to scaling up in other geographies or languages,” Kushagra. “That said, while the immediate focus is on driving adoption amongst the next billion users in India, we also want to explore how Jiny can be relevant for the digitally empowered as well. At the core, we want to make the digital hand-holding experience more human,” sums up Kushagra.