Vokal for Local: Meet Koo, a Twitter-like microblogging platform for vernacular speakers of India
The recent ban of 59 Chinese apps in India has led a path for many Indian startups and entrepreneurs to build ‘Made in India.’ Focussing more on the Tier-II, III cities, and rural pockets of India, most of these startups are creating products that can be accessed in vernacular languages.
Aprameya Radhakrishna, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, too, has been working towards this theme since 2017 with. Recently, the Founder and CEO of Vokal announced a new platform called , a microblogging app focussed on non-English speakers in India.
India has close to 600 million internet users. An IAMAI-Nielsen report revealed that for the first time in 2019, rural users (277 million) outnumbered urban areas (227 million) by 10 percent, thereby eliminating the digital divide that had existed earlier.
Vokal, a P2P info-sharing startup which Aprameya launched with Mayank Bidawatka in 2017, caters to people who mostly belong to rural pockets, and are first-time internet users.
The startup’s new app Koo offers Twitter-like experience where users can express their thoughts in Indian languages with a fellow local Indian community. “You can Koo in text/audio/video or a combination of these modes,” he says.
While there is no microblogging behaviour in local languages on a large scale in India, Aprameya says, with Koo, it wants to enable people to express themselves in their vernaculars.
At present, the discussions on the app are based on news and debates on TV news channels. The app also updates users with hyper-local news, as well as the latest developments in India.
While building Vokal, the startup observed that many users were willing to share their views, and for that, Vokal already has a feature. However, the founder realised that the local language internet users do not have a platform to express themselves on the internet. This gave birth to Koo, which was silently launched a couple of months ago, and has been seeing great traction.
“Celebrities, politicians, sportspersons, journalists, and others are on the platform already, and users are following them for their thoughts on local or hyper-local news, or any development,” Aprameya tells YourStory.
Within a week of its official launch, Koo app has crossed one lakh installs on Google Play store. While it is available in Hindi, Tamil, and Kannada, the app does not support the English language.
Moving forward, the founder said that more Indian languages, including Telugu, Marathi, Odia, Malayalam, and Gujarati, among others, will be added to the app.
With Bytedance-owned TikTok banned in India, Aprameya says that the app will gain more traction in the coming days as local language users are increasingly looking for a platform to share what they feel.