[Tech50] How this gaming platform merges fantasy with knowledge

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Here’s how TENTO, one of YourStory’s Tech50 2021 startups, is driving user engagement through interactive gaming and looking ahead to mine the big opportunity in mobile games
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With a background in media and entertainment, especially in the space of non-fiction content in television spanning game shows and reality shows, Rajesh Namburu launched knowledge-based gaming platform TENTO on September 2, 2021.

Last year, Rajesh launched its prototype Quiz ABCD in order to test the market. After the venture garnered some good traction, Rajesh thought the time was right for TENTO. “I renamed the platform as TENTO and launched this app in 2021,” Rajesh shares. 

Hyderabad-based edtech and education services venture TENTO is a YourStory Tech50 2021 startup. Run under parent company Sritha IT Services Pvt Ltd, the multi-platform application rewards new-age users for “answering correctly and also contributing questions'. The app, which is available on android and iOS, has a pan-India presence in terms of users.

The fantasy gaming genre

When asked about what prompted him to venture into the online gaming space, Rajesh, the Founder of TENTO, says, “Gaming is one of the biggest phenomena that has taken over the world. India is likely to be a gaming powerhouse in the future.”

While there were already games like CandyCrush and the much-hyped PUBG cult following, Rajesh, whose earlier venture was the rummy portal RummyBazaar, wanted to launch something in the arena of knowledge-based gaming. 

“I clubbed the fantasy sports platform Dream11 with knowledge to come up with TENTO, a first-of-its-kind fantasy-knowledge gaming platform, a first not only for India but across the world,” shares Rajesh. “It could be termed as a multiplex of gaming as it clubs skill-based, non-skill-based, real money, non money, all genres and categories under one platform,” adds Rajesh.  

Word of mouth publicity and ‘happy’ questionnaires

TENTO has been mainly concentrating on social media campaigns, and looking at collaborating with social media influencers as part of its promotional strategy. Rajesh says that word of mouth publicity has helped the platform gain its first milestone of 16,500 users, who are not only gaining knowledge but also earning money and above all, are happy with the questions and the app structure. Out of its current user base, on an average, around 170 are active daily users and a player spends almost 18 and a half minutes on the app. The age profile spans 18+ up to 60-70 years because as Rajesh points out, “knowledge is unending, anybody can come and play.” 

Customer reviews and insights 

If questionnaires have played a big role in attracting users, the easy UI (user interface) has also played its part. “We also have four multiple-choice options with four lifelines, so most users use lifelines, which are complementary as of now. At a later point, we would charge for the lifelines,” says Rajesh.  

While the smooth user interface ensures users find it easy to navigate the platform,  the lifelines ensure that users don’t quit easily.

TENTO offers three gaming models in phase 1: ABCD, True/False and SpellFun. Out of these three games, Rajesh says most users find it fascinating to play SpellFun followed by True or False. 

Every quarter, the startup plans to add four to five games into the kitty. “Our main agenda is to entertain not only with knowledge but with multiple skill-based gaming models where users can win real money,” shares Rajesh. 

A streamlined approach

TENTO currently covers almost 25 topics but the present format is built on random quizzes. Later, the platform would enable topic-wise games as well covering a wide gamut of subjects. “Even though the ‘play with friend’ is already an in-app functionality, we haven’t yet enabled it. From 1st of January, 2022, we plan to launch the ‘one versus one’ option as well,” shares Rajesh. The gaming platform is on a drive to be a more focussed and streamlined space based on user interest and subject knowledge. 

“We are coming up with picture games. We will just blur the pictures, and users would have to guess what/who is there in the picture, and there is no need for any knowledge,” reveals Rajesh. 

TENTO will also come up with live or interactive gaming where up to 1,00,000 users can participate. Once someone joins the time-bound game consisting of 10 questions, whoever gets an answer wrong first will have to quit the game. To give an example, out of 10,000 users, if 5,000 have answered all the questions correctly, they will all be winners. “Additionally, we will also add the ‘one question - 1 lakh’ contest — most probably in the month of January 2022 — where there will be only one question and whoever answers in the least amount of time will straightaway get Rs 1 lakh. 10,000 people can participate in this contest at a time,” shares Rajesh.  

The best part is that even if a user loses the question and the game, there’s an option for the user to win in the form of a chatbot option. It essentially means the score will be eligible for a jackpot lucky draw round. The idea is to build audience engagement through multiple options and opportunities. They just have to come and play the game. 

The pandemic opportunity and the future of gaming

The pandemic with its work-from-home scenario has proved to be a blessing in disguise for various startups, fuelling a surge of interest in user consumption of content and entertainment. 

Agrees Rajesh, who says that right now, there are 20 million gamers spending an average of 42 minutes per day on mobile games. “The pandemic has indeed proved to be a big advantage,” he adds.  

But maybe the challenge lies in retaining, sustaining the surge in user interest? “Yes, and that’s why we keep using a lot of games on TENTO. We have to engage them with a lot of offers, referral bonus, and basically a host of unique features,” shares Rajesh. 

In the next 15 months, TENTO aims to reach a 50-lakh user base with a traction of not less than Rs 50 crores. The founder has plans to make TENTO a unicorn by 2025.

“We are still bootstrapped, but we recently got two angel investors — Anil Sunkara,

entrepreneur and film producer amount undisclosed and Venkata Subramanyam, Ex. Guntur District Central Cooperative Bank CEO investing Rs 10 lakhs,” reveals Rajesh. 

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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