Startup Bharat: This Dehradun-based video conferencing platform is taking on Zoom, Google Meet
As the coronavirus pandemic started affecting India, a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24, which forced companies and businesses to ask their staff to work from home. With this, meetings and social interactions shifted to the online space, resulting in the demand for video calling platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Team, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Google Meet, and JioMeet, etc.
Last month, Zoom.us, which has become one of the most-popular video conferencing tool post the coronavirus outbreak, faced backlash over privacy and security issues. Closer home, the Union Home Ministry also raised alarm bells, flagging video conferencing software Zoom as unsafe and vulnerable to cybercrimes.
Amid the clutch of international communication platforms is the month-old, a video conferencing platform developed by Dehradun-based startup ileads Auxiliary Services Pvt Ltd.
Ankur Sinha and Anubha Sinha
The startup was founded in 2018 by Ankur Sinha and Anubha Sinha. Ankur says that the Bharat.live platform is focussed on providing security, besides working on low internet bandwidth, and is easy to use. According to the startup, the key element the team has kept in mind while developing the platform is simplicity and privacy.
“Bharat.live aims to offer good video conferencing services with data security at a cost that is suitable for every Indian,” says Ankur Sinha, Co-founder, ileads Auxiliary Services.
Backstory and Rs 1 crore money
The startup is the brainchild of Dehradun couple Ankur Sinha and Anubha Sinha. Ankur and Anubha were working in a call centre together in Gurugram in 2003. After a few months, they decided to go back to their hometown.
The duo decided to start their own business to make a living. They started with just one computer operating from a single room, and one client in the US.
In March 2018, the duo converted their small proprietorship to a private limited company and started ileads Auxiliary. It initially started offering services like non-voice and voice projects like client on-boarding, telesales and support, data entry, recruitment, customer satisfaction surveys, etc. Some of its prominent clients include companies like IndiaMart and Bajaj Finance.
To scale it further, the self-funded startup set its eye on Rs 1 crore award money announced by the Indian government. The government is exhorting Indian tech companies to develop an indigenous and secure substitute for Zoom, and Bharat.live is one of the competitors.
The company has a team of 200 people and is now working on rolling out phase two of Bharat.live with better offering.
Bharat.live is a free application and does not require participants to download the app or enter a code to join video meetings. It is a browser-based application, and the website does not ask for details such as email id, and no chats are recorded or stored on servers.
Ankur says that Bharat.live is a suitable offering for businesses or individuals who fear getting their data leaked out of Indian borders. All its servers are located in India, he adds.
“The platform is HIPPA compliant for secure user authentication, information storage, and reports generation with access control, audit controls, integrity controls, and transmission security. Moreover, its URL is visible only to the host. The host can further share it with others. Bharat.live is experimenting with it to make it even more secure. The application caters to simple use cases as of now. Bharat.live supports calls with about 50 participants, and plans to make it 100 soon,” says Ankur.
Bharat.live has two variants - meet and conference. While meet.bharat.live is a totally free product, anyone can visit the website and start a meeting in just two clicks.
The platform has been focussing on small companies and startups during coronavirus lockdown, and has been an Indian alternative to other foreign brands.
Business and mission
Bharat.live's premium pricing starts for as low as Rs 900 for 10 hours of meeting, and can include up to 20 participants, says the founder.
The platform claims to have already crossed five lakh users, with approximately one lakh users per day. It has been witnessing about 1,500-2,000 meetings per day on meet, and 600-700 meetings a day on conference.
Not only corporates, but the startup is looking to offer its service to doctors, lawyers, CAs, teachers, etc., who can be contacted through secure video meets, thereby minimising physical interaction and reducing the time and cost of going to meet them.
“This will also help to get in touch with experts across the country using e-meets,” says Ankur.