Chennai-based Pepul aims to break the existing social media clutter with a community-focused platform
Suresh Kumar and his friend, George, had already bootstrapped Macappstudio, a digital company, and done a lot of experiments, research, and development as part of the process.
During this time, Suresh attended various college meets and delivered valuable messages regarding entrepreneurship to students.
“I used to ask students why all great companies, be it Google or Facebook, came from Silicon Valley, why not from India?” Suresh says. This led to the birth of, a new-age social network where people can share their life stories, interests, skills, and more.
“We are building the world's safest social platform, where security and culture are high priority. Apart from safety, anyone can share their life, interests, skills via beautiful stories. Anyone can connect with similarly interested people, nearby and distant, and create communities in real life for their interests,” Suresh says.
The focus is on creating communities with nearby people, creating greater impact in the real world as compared to the thousands online communities that stay just online.
Chennai-based Pepul enables communities in real life, going from “online to offline”.
Why start up?
On what got him to start up, Suresh says he put a question to himself. “If you guys, despite being the world's most valuable developers, don’t take any effort in building a global product company, how can a normal young student achieve this high-risk thing?"
This was his eureka moment, which kindled a fire to build a social network company from India.
Top social platforms got a major share of user base and valuations from Indian users only. With this amount of user wealth and talents, why can’t we can create a new social platform from India, he says.
“We have already broken the template formulae through our previous startup Macappstudio. Just like that, we want to break this social media stereotype also. As a father of two girls, I personally felt that current social platforms are unsafe for women and young minds.
"At present, social media platforms are open to negativity, which leads to the spread of hatred, harassment, and bullying. We wanted to build the safest social network where people can be themselves and express safely,” he says.
At Macappstudio, the team had strongly believed that everyone has already got a talent, and needs space and time to express it.
The product and differentiator
In February 2021, the team launched Pepul in closed private beta with a few users, and did the A/B product testing. Close to two lakh users were signed up to join this private beta.
“We have now opened up for a limited range of audiences and are currently releasing in incremental phases. We didn't expect this much traction while doing this limited opening among the audience,” Suresh says.
The team observed that in this private beta, the average time spent on the app is 28 minutes. Other social media depend on user data; the Pepul revenue model is based on connections.
The startup - currently in its pre-revenue stage - has raised a small round of funding.
Plans for the future
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram may be entrenched in the social media ecosystem, but the market for new social apps is growing. A 2019 report by Pew Research Center says 72 percent of adults in the US use some form of social media.
The caveat: several incidents of data and privacy breach, especially in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal.
There is also a growing base of social media apps focused on more intimate groups and audiences, examples being audio-focused social platforms such as Clubhouse and Discord that have become popular in the past year or so.
Pepul is one of the different social media platforms, and competes with similar ones such as Moments.
On the future, Suresh says, “Our vision is to create a multibillion-dollar company that can touch people's lives in a positive way. To achieve this vision, Pepul is working to reach billions of users.”