This 19-year-old decided to start a digital media platform to leverage the power of opinions
Nakshatra Sanjai, 19, believed in the power of social media, but wondered how to utilise it “to its fullest potential”.
“If used correctly, the digital space can be greatly impactful in a positive way. Opinions seem to be the key drivers of change in today’s world, and noo-gah!, the first gamified, opinion-aggregator platform, aims at galvanising opinions of the common folk,” says Nakshatra.
The platform aims to be a unified podium where everyone can come and voice their opinion, ushering in change — opinion by opinion.
“We were lucky to have walked into a world populated by many social media platforms. But, mostly they accept and broadcast general content. Noo-gah! predominantly focuses on the power of opinions - that is our USP. We also plan to redefine the social media experience by using two-minute micro-videos as our currency, along with social badges as powerful motivating factors,” Nakshatra says.
Inspiration and idea
The idea was the outcome of a 22-year of loyalty programme run by Nakshatra’s father’s, Sanjai Velayudhan, with global brands. That mostly included global airlines, premium hotel brands, retail behemoths etc. He has always been a proponent of a dialogue between brands and end-consumers.
“He is also a pioneer in infusing gamification into marketing programmes. As the contours started becoming clear, I realised the potential impact it could have in shaping the collective dynamics of social psyche. We did a lot of informal and formal research, surveys etc before finalising the functionalities of noo-gah! The app only launched a few months, so measuring the impact at this point would be premature,” Nakshatra says.
The core team includes Sanjai, Nakshatra, and her mother Latha Sanjai.
How does it work?
The opinion aggregator allows seamless sharing of opinions, thoughts, and ideas, helping to start a discourse with a global audience. Available to both Android and iOS users, the app includes elements of gamification and innovative loyalty rewards.
One has to register for membership (earn 25 GEMs upon registering), and based on the languages and categories chosen, opinion-driven content will populate the trending page. People can participate in existing polls and earn GEMs (results are displayed post-participation).
Videos can be recorded in-app or uploaded from the gallery and you can accrue GEMs for that as well. Based on the engagement levels on each post, one can move up tiers (1-5). You can also invite friends to join the app, which will earn you bonus GEMs.
“There is a table of business rules that gives members additional GEMs for certain pre-defined activities. Eventually we will be introducing a redemption catalogue, where you can redeem your accrued GEMs noo-gah! relies on member engagement, gamification, and loyalty,” Nakshatra says.
Noo-Gah! is able to plan and execute crowdsourced videos and digital marketing collaterals, which includes posters, videos etc. “We have estimated (based on quotes and actual expenses) that our overall digital marketing assets (including physical and thought leadership) exceed Rs 1.5 crore,” Nakshatra says.
“A product like this, with complex integration, definitely takes 8-10 months including UAT. Depending upon the premium-ness, it can definitely cost anywhere between Rs 30-40 lakh. This does not include running costs, like server management et al. This will also include legal and other compliance costs. The marketing and branding, to be effective, can cost you anywhere between Rs 75 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore per annum,” she says.
Currently, in the pre-revenue stages, the team is looking at different revenue models. Noo-gah! competes with the likes of Moments and other digital agencies.
Market and future plans
Even as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are entrenched in the social media ecosystem, 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 include audio-focused social platforms such as Clubhouse and Discord that have become popular in the past year or so. The opportunity for noo-gah! is large.
“We are looking forward to growing steadily. Noo-gah! is available in India and the Middle East. After six months, we’re planning to enter other Asia PAC countries, then Europe, the US etc. We are also looking forward to having development centres in Bengaluru, Cochin, and Trivandrum. We look forward to having regional offices in major cities globally,” Nakshatra says.
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