New start-up aims to break India’s software jinx

by Abhinna Shreshtha    Nov 10, 2010

Adepto aims to break Indias software jinx with Trol.lyWith its social media application – Trol.ly, Mumbai-based start-up – Adepto, has become one of the precious few Indian companies to have created an original software product.

Adepto was incepted in February this year, by Kiran Kumar and Prem Pillai, who had earlier worked together at Google earlier. A privately funded company, it currently has only 5 employees including Kumar, the self confessed business guy, and Pillai, who handles the technology part. The company is looking to hire more people in the coming days.

Asked about the motivation behind Adepto, Kumar said, “We wanted to create a global product that leverages social media. In India, the approach towards social media marketing is more tactical than proactive. For example, if a company finds it is getting a lot of negative comments, what does it do? It hires a social media consultant or a search engine optimizer (SEO) who then ensures the negative comments do not show up too often on search engines. We believed a different approach was possible.”

But it was only after leaving Google that the two actually came up with the idea of an application that would harness social networking sites to promote e-commerce. The first product from the Adepto stable is Trol.ly. “The challenge before retailers is how to connect a social networking user to their products. How do you ensure that your products are getting publicity on social networking sites but at the same time this is not getting intrusive for the users? This is what Tro.ly accomplishes,” explained Kumar.

Word of mouth publicity (WOM) is the Holy Grail for social media marketers these days and this is what Trol.ly attempts to create. Simply put, Trol.ly creates ‘conversations’ between a customer and his or her friends whenever a purchase is made. How id does this is interesting. Rather than simply sending alerts to the buyer’s friends, it makes use of a quiz like format to generate curiosity. So, if a person has bought a book. Trol.ly will generate a question like “‘X’ has a book authored by ‘Y’. Can you name another book by this author?” Right answers will give the person discount coupons or gift vouchers, further increasing chances that they will make purchases with the store.

“The value for the merchant is how often and how many customers keep coming back to his site. By providing incentives to uses and by using WOM publicity through social media, there are high chances that merchants will derive more sales,” said Kumar.

Current clients of the company include Homeshop18, Buytheprice.com, and Snapdeal. Adepto works on a CPE (cost per engagement) model, where it gets a certain amount everytime a user comes and looks at what his or her friend has brought.

Trol.ly is currently available only for Facebook, though Kumar said that they would consider something similar for Twitter and other social networking sites in the future. Currently, the team at Adepto is working on similar products for verticals like travel, entertainment and media industries. “The top verticals online are e-commerce, travel, and media & entertainment. Social media has turned the whole concept of marketing upside down. Everything we do will have a social media angle,” informed Kumar.

The product is currently available only in India. But Kumar, Pillai and their team are not content to stay only in one country. Even though India was the launch market, the target market for Adepto is the US. The company has already initiated the process to get a patent for Trol.ly in the US and is looking for a launch there in the second quarter of 2011. Other plans for Trol.ly include tapping group buying websites, which, according to Kumar, hold a huge opportunity for a product like Trol.ly.