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India-made Apps

Three India-born apps that are shining on Google Play Store

Evolve, a health-tech startup, Sortizy, a food-focused platform and Hotstep, an online platform for dancers, are taking the market by fire

Mathures Paul | Published 03.04.22, 01:31 AM
File picture of Google employees bicycling to work at the Googleplex in Mountain View

File picture of Google employees bicycling to work at the Googleplex in Mountain View

A smartphone wouldn’t be smart if it can’t connect users with apps to make life easy, something we have felt more than ever before during the pandemic. Last year, we got to know at the Google I/O event that there are over three billion active Android devices out there globally. That’s a huge figure. Many of these outstanding apps are getting developed in India. In fact, Google’s success depends a lot on the success of the app developers. We spoke to three people who are leading the app life!

We want to support companies in India, solving newer things. we want to provide them with AI and technologies and platforms so that they can scale up their ideas and reach more users

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, in December 2021

EVOLVE

The Concept: Evolve is a health-tech startup on a mission to make mental health safe, simple, and joyful. The Evolve app and its proprietary interface help users improve their mental well-being through interactive content based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). The app currently has close to 100,000 users across the world.

The founder: Anshul Kamath, the founder, began his career in London, working in finance, following which he moved back to India to work in the start-up ecosystem. After being diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease, he realised the importance of managing his own mental health and the severity of mental health as a problem in general. Since then, he has dedicated the next phase of his life to solving this problem. He has facilitated workshops for thousands of individuals collaborating with psychologists and other experts. In 2020, he founded Evolve to make mental health a priority for millions across the globe.

Birth of an idea...

The inspiration for Evolve goes back to 2017 when I started a passion project to help people with their mental health. Over the last three years, I’ve collaborated with leading psychologists, life coaches, and wellness experts and facilitated workshops for thousands of individuals on mental well-being and personal growth. From college students to CEOs, I observed one common problem — no one knew how to manage their emotions, particularly their stress and anxiety, which stopped them from growing as individuals and leaders. I saw the need for an app that was easy to use, accessible to all, and joyful to use. And, that’s how the idea of Evolve was born.

2021 was our first year of operations and being part of Google Play’s Best of 2021 list was very special and a huge honour. The recognition has led to a surge in app downloads as well as boosted our credibility with existing users. It was also a huge motivational boost for us as a team to continue working hard to improve the mental health of millions across the world.

For an early-stage tech startup like us, Google Play has played an immense role in catalysing our growth by actively recognising and promoting us to potential users. Another aspect about Google Play we love is the data, we have access to on the Developer Console to understand our audiences and conversion rates. We have run close to 60 A|B test experiments on the Play Store over the last six months. That’s allowed us to understand our users much quicker and build a better product for them. The awards and recognition we received during ‘Google Play Best Of 2021’ have been a cherry on the top.

Anshul Kamath, founder of Evolve

Anshul Kamath, founder of Evolve

Competing with biggies...

While our users experience Evolve as a virtual app, we have also worked with thousands of users in person — this is what sets us apart. Before starting Evolve, I regularly facilitated mental health and wellness workshops across India.

We’ve looked to differentiate ourselves in three areas. The first is our proprietary interface that is interactive and designed to simulate in-person sessions conducted by a therapist or a life coach. The second is our design and user experience. We pride ourselves on creating a safe space where users can really open up and work on their problems. And finally, we build content that is extremely contextual to our users’ lives. The more we’re able to speak to our users, the more we see our engagement go up. And while the market for mental health apps has multiple players, we’re very confident that it’s still very nascent and growing. Evolve is finding its niche and a loyal user base by focusing on marginalised groups as well, particularly the LGBTQ+ community.

Today everyone realises that just like we focus on our physical health, we also need to take care of our mental health regularly. When the recent Covid wave hit, we did see our engagement go up

Anshul Kamath

Privacy first...

Overall, we’ve seen the awareness about mental health go up significantly during the pandemic. Earlier, mental health used to be seen as something synonymous with mental illness, such as depression. However, today everyone realises that just like we focus on our physical health, we also need to take care of our mental health regularly. When the recent Covid wave hit, we did see our engagement go up. We have a unique interactive interface on our app that simulates in-person interactions and therapy sessions. Perhaps because loneliness was rising, the average time users spent on the app also went up.

While all the user data on the app is private and encrypted, we’re always in touch with our users first-hand and look at understanding key trends through various experiments and content we keep putting out on the app. We’ve realised that most of our users are going through self-esteem and self-worth issues of some kind. Users are most engaged and proactive when it comes to improving their relationships and recently we’ve also realised a significant proportion of Gen Z and millennials want to work on issues like gender and sexual identity.

One of the biggest trends we noticed thanks to Google Play has been the need for mental health in the LGBTQ+ community. During Pride Month last year (June 2021), we ran a few experiments on the Google Play Console, testing out a more inclusive logo and branding. We noticed a big surge in our conversion rates and this trend continued even post Pride month, helping us realise members of the community were naturally gravitating towards our app. The LGBTQIA+ community is the most underserved segment in the mental health market in terms of their propensity to seek solutions versus the availability of products or apps that actually address their needs. In spite of the high tendency to seek out mental health solutions, very few apps are built for this audience. Evolve offers curated content specifically for members of the community including interactive introspections on ‘embracing your sexuality’ and ‘coming out to loved ones’.

Users are from...

Every month, we keep adding users from over 100 countries. However, India and North America are the two biggest markets for us.

SORTIZY

The concept: A unique food-focused platform, Sortizy aims to make food content more functional and impactful for users globally, helping them manage their food and diet at home efficiently through a seamless discovery of recipes, brands, products, videos, and more.

The co-founder: Nitin Gupta is co-founder and CPO of Sortizy. He is a mechanical engineering graduate from BITS Pilani Goa, and has previously worked as a strategy consultant and then as a product manager at OYO. An avid food and cooking enthusiast, Nitin co-founded Sortizy to help people globally manage their food and diet at home more efficiently.

Making smartphones smart are the apps we use and there are over 3billion active Android users globally

Making smartphones smart are the apps we use and there are over 3billion active Android users globally

Making Sortizy a success...

The volume of food content available online is quite large, but it is also scattered and available in different formats. This makes it inconvenient for users to find or discover the right content, use the content for discovering the right products, and then make a purchase or cook. Sortizy has been built to help people eat the food of their choice, easily and conveniently at home. Sortizy being a food-centric content platform, makes the discovery of content or products in standardised and easy-to-consume formats. This helps our users conveniently expand the options of what they can eat daily and discover new brands and products, helping them cook delicious recipes right from the comfort and trust of their home kitchens. The users also get the opportunity to learn necessary kitchen-related skills and manage their diets more sustainably. App For Fun’ on Play Store within our first year.

Recently landed a $100,000 funding...

Yes, we recently raised our pre-seed round of funds. We plan to use it for onboarding more content creators on our platform, expand our team for faster execution and move towards a better product-market fit for our users, content creators, and brands.

Lessons learnt during the pandemic...

The pandemic has restructured priorities for most of us. A common theme that we have noticed is increased focus on health. When we started working on Sortizy, our goal was to help people interact more meaningfully with food and become more conscious about what they are eating. We feel that getting involved in the home kitchen is the most sustainable way to do so. The pandemic hasn’t really changed our direction, but it has bolstered our motivation to help more and more people conveniently manage their home kitchens, shopping, and cooking.

Nitin Gupta is co-founder and CPO of Sortizy

Nitin Gupta is co-founder and CPO of Sortizy

We are seeing that users are getting exposed to international cuisines. They are very keen to try those recipes and also want to collate the required ingredients at home

Food trends on the map...

The biggest trend at this point is the demand for quick, easy, and healthy recipes. In addition, we are also seeing that users are getting exposed to international cuisines. They are very keen to try those recipes and also want to collate the required ingredients at home.

HOTSTEP

The concept:  HOTSTEP is an online platform for dancers, fitness enthusiasts, and people who just want to have fun, offering top-class dance tutorials and live sessions from various artistes. HOTSTEP aims to build the “biggest dance community” by connecting renowned choreographers with dance enthusiasts. The platform intends to make learning dance affordable and accessible for people across the globe. Whether one wants to become a dance professional, work on their mental health, physical fitness, perform in a wedding, or just dance for fun, they can simply HOTSTEP.

The founder: Vinay Khandelwal, the founder and CEO of HOTSTEP, is also actor-dancer and has been a part of the entertainment world for over 15 years, featuring in films, dance reality shows, music videos, organising dance events and personally teaching more than 20,000-plus classes across India. During the pandemic, he founded HOTSTEP, aiming to make learning dance affordable and accessible for people across the globe.

Vinay Khandelwal, the founder and CEO of HOTSTEP

Vinay Khandelwal, the founder and CEO of HOTSTEP

We aim to make dance learning affordable and approachable. Our target is to make HOTSTEP the biggest marketplace for dance where dance teachers can connect with dance enthusiasts across the globe

Pandemic and dance-tutorial apps…

During the pandemic, when offline dance studios were shutting down and people were scared to step out, we realized that it was the best time for us to launch HOTSTEP with the vision to help users turn any space into a dance class or studio.

In a short period, HOTSTEP became a go-to app amongst dance enthusiasts. We made learning from their favourite choreographers across the entertainment industry, reality shows, and dance movies possible. The pandemic gave us a good take-off and made people familiar with online learning organically. Today, even when everything is opening up and getting back to normal, our user base is still growing and people are learning regularly because we have been able to add value and make dance learning accessible and affordable.

Making it different…

Quality in both tech and content is our USP. Imagine watching a dance reality show on a Sunday and then being able to learn that dance from the same choreographer on Monday. HOTSTEP is making it happen. We are making sure that users learn from only the best in the industry.

From a technology standpoint, our app offers both on-demand tutorials and live interactive classes. Our customised media player features like mirror image, section breakdown, loop, and speed control, make dance learning easier. Every member of our team is or has been a dancer, which is why we can think from a user’s point of view at every step.

We aim to make dance learning affordable and approachable. Our target is to make HOTSTEP the biggest marketplace for dance where dance teachers can connect with dance enthusiasts across the globe.

Getting featured on Google Play’s Best of 2021....

It has changed a lot of things for us. It has added validation to our concept and adds a trust factor in the minds of new users who download the app. Our aim has always been to build the best user-friendly online dance learning platform. Google’s recognition has taken us one step closer to our goal. Not only have we been able to add more users and credibility, but we have also been approached by a lot of big companies for collaborations.

Google Play has played a vital role in our journey. It helped us reach out to users from different corners of the world. Today, HOTSTEP has users from more than 1,000 cities and 50 countries. Its seamless experience, along with great insights through the Google Play Console, has helped us grow. We are thankful to Google Play for awarding us as the ‘Best

Last updated on 03.04.22, 01:31 AM
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