Always wanted to meet your role models? This woman entrepreneur co-founded an app for just that

Mumbai-based startup TheSnugApp allows users to get to know talented people in their neighbourhood or from around the world face-to-face for a paid meeting over coffee or video call.
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With the social media sites bringing the world closer, young and aspiring writers, actors, singers, and entrepreneurs can follow their role models more closely and even seek advice through the occasional Q&A sessions they would host on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. 

However, entrepreneur Jayshree Nayak believes that this may result in an unbalance in the way we interact. “Social networks have become social media. Few people create content and 95 percent of the people follow them, cheer them or troll them. I think it is unjust to humans because we are not born to be followers and are supposed to participate on equal footing,” she tells HerStory

At the same time, one would have to rely on a wonderful stroke of luck for a chance encounter with our role models in real life. This is where The Snug App steps in where, on its platform, users can book a meeting with talented people in their neighbourhood or from around the world for a coffee or video call in a way that the app makers say is “as simple as booking a cab”. 

Jayshree Nayak, Co-founder of TheSnugApp



A new-age meeting tool

Jayshree says that meeting and sharing perspective with diverse people is important for an individual’s overall development and can help in their career development as well. 

Once a user signs up on the app, they can browse through personalities enrolled as talents, with each bio having a minute-long video, with the price also mentioned. The followers can schedule a meeting after the payment is made. 

Based in Mumbai, the startup shares that an average price for each hour-long meeting is Rs 1,500, and the startup earns a commission of 30 percent from the talent fee.

Incorporated in October 2019, people from diverse backgrounds such as AI experts, drone designers, CEOs, investors, journalists, actors, singers, models, national champion sports personalities, among many others, are enrolled as talents on TheSnugApp.

“There are many people out there who do not pursue their passion fearing it won’t pay the bills, especially in the field of creative talents including acting, music, and painting. They can pick the talented person’s brain and gain insights and perspectives during that meeting,” she says, adding that one can explore trending global talents as well. 

 

The startup began with a simple website and started onboarding talents in Mumbai in September 2019 and was quick to register 5,000 people as talents who started enquiring when they can look forward to meeting people. 

 

This led them to develop a minimum viable app on android which was made live within two months in November. In the same month, TheSnugApp secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Sanjay Mehta of 100X.VC firm. 

 

At present, the startup is targeting talents and users, aged 18 and above, from English speaking countries around the world, with regions like Singapore, London, and southern California, showing interest.

A serial entrepreneur

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Jayshree says technology never fails to create a level playing field for humanity. She earlier worked for a California-based startup as a trainer and developer, and has experience in leading tech teams to product delivery milestones and manage customer expectations. 

 

A serial entrepreneur who has co-founded three tech startups till now, Jayshree says she has not faced many challenges in building TheSnugApp with Rajesh Chokhani and Manish Deora.

 

Speaking of what each co-founder brings to the table, Jayshree explains, “Rajesh is the ‘product and numbers person’ in our team of five, and Manish has exceptional problem-solving skills and a supreme ability of learning and adapting to new technology.” 

 

In 2014, the trio had started a social shopping platform called Sweet Couch which had close to 23 million users in five years. Featured as the best shopping app on the App Store for almost a year, the trio also met with Tim Cook during his maiden visit to India in May 2016.

 

At TheSnugApp, the team is looking to hire people who are willing to challenge the status quo, and are looking beyond their university degrees.



The COVID-19 pivot

Jayshree shares that COVID-19 induced lockdown has been an eye-opener that led them to add online video meeting option and accelerated the team’s ambition for global expansion.

 

And the moment we enabled video meetings, we got more interests from venture capitalists, even people who were not too excited earlier when we were focused on one-on-one meetings.

 

While other platforms like AirBnB and Lunchclub.ai have also pivoted to experimenting with making global connections online, Jayshree says that TheSnugApp is different with their focus on an exchange of ideas based on talent.  

 

With the online global social penetration rate increasing to 49 percent in 2020 with 3.81 billion people, the team believes that TheSnugApp will become a lifestyle trend.

“Meeting people outside our known circle of friends, colleagues, and family will become the new way of getting advice, insights, and sharing opinions, and 10 percent of every Starbucks or other café meeting or video meetings that happen globally will be routed through Snug in the next five years,” she concludes.
Edited by Kanishk Singh

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