Journey of Koo: futuristic trends in the startup industry
Koo, an inclusive, multi-lingual, micro-blogging platform was launched in March 2020. The objective was to enable users across the World to express themselves online in their mother tongue. An innovator of language-based micro-blogging, currently Koo is available in 10 languages – Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Assamese, Bengali, and English. The platform’s unique features include a translation feature that enables real-time translation of a post across a slew of languages while retaining the sentiment and context of the original text. This enhances the reach and garners greater traction for a user. The app has over 45 million downloads and is actively leveraged by 7,000 people of eminence across politics, sports, media, entertainment, spirituality, and art & culture to connect with their followers in multiple languages. Mr. Phaneesh Gururaj, Chief Technology Officer, Koo shares more insights on the same.
Q1: What are the USPs of KOO and what are they doing to establish themselves in the Indian market?
Ans: Founded by Aparameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka in 2020, Koo is India’s first homegrown multi-social media platform for microblogging, which aims to empower expression and connect users who prefer to speak in their mother tongue. We have created a solution that not only provides equal opportunity for expression to aspirational Indians but also solves the language problem for billions around the world.
Koo has earned a lot of love from India. It caters to a unique Indian problem of enabling expression for over a billion Indians in their mother tongue. For most global players, catering to Indians and India’s language diversity is an afterthought. Whereas for us, we’ve kept this as the dominant inspiration while building Koo. We started Koo because 90% of the country speaks and interacts in a language other than English. They feel lost in English-dominant communities.
We wanted to give their voices a stage and include them and their voices on the internet. Since we launched, we have had a great response. We started in Kannada, are now available in 10 Indian languages, and will expand to many more.
Q2: Why is KOO so reliable, convenient, and efficient?
Ans. India has almost 500-600 million internet users and that number is predicted to rise to 900 million in the next few years. This only shows the kind of potential that exists for Koo, as the platform is an innovation in the world of language-based microblogging. Never before has there been a platform that enabled so many Indians to share thoughts in a language of their choice.
At Koo, we aim to empower our users and provide them the freedom to connect and engage in the languages they are comfortable in. Our unique and distinctive features such as Talk-to-type, MLK or Multi-Lingual Koo – among others ensure that our users can rely on us while communicating with the audience on our platform. Our recently launched feature – Topics helps our users remain updated about the top trends and issues in any particular language, thereby making the knowledge increase even more efficient.
We continue to build and introduce features that can help us move towards digital independence by building digital products which can empower users in a unique way.
Koo is built on a robust technology stack that uses state-of-the-art infrastructure. We are on the cloud and use a suite of platforms to power all the use cases. Our continued investment in NLP, ML, search, video engineering, UX, security, data stores, etc .. have made our App a robust platform offering millisecond latency and intelligence. The efforts in ML have made our app very personalized and we are able to recommend and classify content very accurately thereby improving our engagement metrics.
Q3: What is the technological advancement behind KOO’s special feature, i.e. MLK? (Multi-Lingual Kooing)
Ans: Koo is the first homegrown, social media site in the world to provide its users a special capability to ‘Koo’ in their own language. It allows users to publish their ideas in the language of their choice and learn about the trends and topics of their own language. MLK or Multi-Lingual Koo helps in translating any statement into nine Indian languages, allowing creators and users to create and consume content in their respective languages. What’s more is that MLK enables the real-time translation of a message across multiple languages, while retaining the core sentiment attached to the original message, which not only enhances the reach but also ensures an immersive browsing experience for users.
We have embedded MLK seamlessly in our product flow both from a creator and user lens. We translate and transliterate millions of characters every day; to achieve this scale, our architecture uses a mixture of open-source models, 3rd party providers, and in-house language models. We store this analytics data for further improving our translation models so that no language is left behind. For every Koo that is created in a language L1, with our tech we can easily provide translations with good accuracy across the major languages in India.
Q4: About KOO’s ideas for connecting people internationally in their own language
Ans: We do not have an international presence as of now, besides Nigeria. However, Koos’s value proposition can be easily taken to any part of the world which speaks native languages. Like India, 80% of the world speaks a native language and the need for digital expression in one’s mother tongue exists everywhere. Koo is building technology that can make India shine at the global level.
Q5: How the tech industry is doing the evolution in the startup industry
Ans: Technology is an enabler in every matter. Over the past couple of years, we have seen numerous large corporations as well as small enterprises launch and establish themselves among consumers through unique tech solutions. Today, technology is not only helping startups expand and scale, but also address real-world challenges and issues. Leveraging the best tech solutions, we are also working to create a platform that is simple to use and provides a seamless digital experience to the users.
Technology levers are very essential to bring about a fundamental change in any domain and startups are at the forefront of it. There is a constant thought process in any startup team – to make things better than the current solution, unlock new opportunities in the value chain, bring about innovation to reduce the cost of production, etc. To achieve these fundamental things and to do it at scale, is where technology plays a very critical role. Without tech, these things can be seldom done.
Q6: What are the startup futurist trends?
Ans: A start-up is no longer limited to metropolises and metropolitan marketplaces. Today, innovations are happening across India, with smaller towns and cities addressing complicated, real-world issues through their solutions. Budding entrepreneurs in non-metros are fueling their start-up dreams thanks to growing internet penetration in tier-II and tier-III cities. We expect to see more growth and success stories coming out of these locations, placing India at the center stage for innovation and growth. In the future, India will be known for its technological power in the world.