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Startup of the month – VEBBLER

Tech startup of the month - vebbler

Vebbler at a glance

  • Genre: Social networking media
  • Founded in: 2013
  • Founders: Mr. Sahil Bhagat (Founder and CEO)
  • Team: 15 (comprises of both tech and marketing teams)
  • Headquarter: Bengaluru
  • Website: www.vebbler.com

Vebbler– the name itself strikes a curiosity, isn’t it? Well, it did to me and hence I started to explore the app. Trust me, it came out pretty useful and addictive an app to me, a photo enthusiast who wants to display everything on the social media. Curious? Know more…

What is Vebbler, actually?

Vebbler is a photo-sharing app for groups designed to make sharing of photos easy between groups at night outs, vacations, and celebrations. While people frequently take photos together using different phones and cameras, the process of bringing together those photos is extremely cumbersome, and Vebbler promises to make that happen in one single-tap.

By design, Vebbler is private, which means that photos are shared into groups called ‘clubs’, and can only be seen by their respective club members. Unlike other social media platforms that broadcast your content, on Vebbler you can contextually share with relevant groups of people.

What does Vebbler do?

The main features of Vebbler are as follows:

  1. Clubs: Clubs are spontaneous groups created to share any moment, be it your friends, family or co-workers, and for any occasion.
  2. Moments: Moments are photos. You can easily filter it, add a caption, tag the relevant people and share it.
  3. Artistic Filters: Transform photos into stunning works of art through filters made using artificial intelligence, deep learning algorithms and neural networks.
  4. Photo Effects: Enhance your photos by applying a variety of filters and effects including monochrome, retro, vintage, sepia and auto-enhance.
  5. Instant Groups: Create spontaneous groups with friends, family and co-workers for any event – wedding, night out, road trip and privately share all your moments with relevant people in real-time.
  6. Visual Reactions: React to every photo visually as compared to text by using selfies, emojis, captions and quirky GIFs. It’s better than emoticons, and since it’s private it could actually be fun.
  7. Club Codes: Share a unique code of your group on email, messaging apps and social media to add multiple people to your club.

Tech startup of the month - vebbler

Inception and History:

Vebbler was founded in June 2013 on the web and positioned itself as a personal network that makes it easy for people to share content contextually with groups of people, as compared to broadcasting it. These groups are named as ‘Clubs’. The platform grew to over 90,000 users across 108 countries in a span of a few months, which is when Vebbler shifted its focus to mobile. Around this time, Vebbler was based out of Mumbai.

Around that period, several shifts in the social media space happened. Networks were becoming more visual than textual. Vebbler hence trimmed the product and removed status updates and sharing of links on the platform. There was also a huge gap in the group photo-sharing space, which ‘clubs’ could very easily and effectively address since it was all about contextual groups. Vebbler decided to focus more on photo and video. They also implemented a camera-first strategy that made it easier for people to sync photos into a club, directly from the camera itself. It was around this period that they raised a round of funding as well and shifted base to Bangalore where they are headquartered now.

At its core, Vebbler is still about private sharing with groups. But the biggest shift has been the focus from the web to mobile and from textual sharing to visual sharing. Vebbler’s ultimate goal is to become the default camera app on smartphones.

One of its kind features:

Another interesting new feature called ‘Promoted Profiles’ where Vebbler is reaching out to the top influencers from India and featuring them through a promoted profile on Vebbler. This helps influencers and celebrities gather thousands of new fans and connect with them. It’s free and a first of any initiative taken by a social media company from India to bring together all influencers on one common platform. Vebbler has also launched ‘Public clubs’ which allows you to share live photos with people around common events, topics and interests. It is perfect for sharing photos at music concerts, sporting events, award shows and other events.

Social media connections:

Vebbler has scaled to over 400,000 users across 119 countries in just a few months. Top countries include India, USA, Iran and Argentina, and top cities include Ashburn, New Delhi, and Bengaluru.

Additionally, Vebbler is selected by social media giant Facebook for its much sought after FB Start Program. Under the program, Vebbler will get financial backing worth $40,000 in credits, free tools and services from Facebook and its more than 30 partners including Facebook AD Credits, Amazon AWS, Mailchimp and User Testing. Besides partners, Vebbler will get free access to more than 25 services including open source tools like React Native, FB Login and Account Kit and App Analytics. Being a part of FB Start Program Vebbler will also get an opportunity to connect directly with the Facebook team and will be enrolled into the social media giant’s exclusive community of global partner firms that include Adobe, Coursera, Dropbox, and Salesforce.

More on this, from the CEO and Founder Mr. Sahil Bhagat:

Exhibit: Hey Sahil, Vebbler does strike a tune among social media addict gen. How did you get the initial idea of the startup?
SAHIL: The original idea for Vebbler was conceptualised in college where I wanted to build a product that made it easier to share photos and videos with private groups. Over a period of time, our focus became more mobile-focused and I wanted to extend the product that could leverage the mobile experience. Around that period, my social life had gone into an upswing. Every weekend I found myself with friends at parties and events, taking close to over 100 photos each time. However, I found it extremely cumbersome to receive and send across the photos later, leaving me with an incomplete picture of the night. It was then that I saw the potential of Vebbler not only being a great platform for groups, but also being a great camera-first product – a way in which people could take a photo from the camera and directly send it to a club.

 

“  While people frequently take photos together using different phones and cameras, the process of bringing together those photos is extremely cumbersome, and Vebbler promises to make that happen in one single-tap.

 

Exhibit: Tell us about your initial challenges with Vebbler and experiences gathered.
SB: Every app development cycle faces challenges, and Vebbler was no different to that.Vebbler was never about building a product, but rather about building an experience. Thus, we took a call to build our Android and iOS apps using native technology, as compared to a crossplatform one. With that came the challenge of creating unique interfaces on both platforms that were simple yet elegant, intuitive and yet minimalist. Choosing the right stack and architecture: Vebbler was built to be a highly scalable, mass market visual product.

The biggest experience that we learnt was both on professional and personal fronts. On a professional level, we learnt that while it was crucially important to collate together hundreds of photos around events, people hated organizing, requesting and manually forwarding photosThat’s why Vebbler is camera-first.

On personal front, we learnt to always take feedback and iterate – don’t get too attached to what you have built. Of course go by gut. Team is crucial. Get people who understand product. We have a very stringent interview process. Most of them come from startups and product companies. Service mindset is very different.Know your exact market. Are you taking academic route, city wise, behavioral patterns? Don’t spend money generically.

Exhibit: Why Vebbler – what’s so different in it that sets it apart as a different class?
SBVebbler is the first and only camera app that’s social by design. It offers a more personal experience to photo-sharing as compared to platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, Vebbler also addresses many other use cases, namely:

  • The need to take the same photo with different phones and cameras every time.The need to worry about limited phone storage, including the SD storage and 5GB iCloud storage.
  • No need to share 10 images at a time manually through instant messaging apps like Whatsapp.
  • The need to compromise on the quality of your images due to compression by instant messaging apps.
  • The need to take quick screenshots of your favorite photos before they disappear through apps like Snapchat.
  • The need to copy or transfer photos via pen drives, memory cards, hard drives and even Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • The need to manually backup old photos.

Exhibit: How do you wish to capitalize on the exponentially growing smartphone users in the country?
SB: Smartphone Penetration: India is the ideal market for such products, considering India is a young country – 50 percent of the population is younger than 24 years and usage of the smartphone is responsible for a big chunk of the growth of photo sharing product in the Indian Market.

Social Media: Active mobile social media penetration in India has been 9% by January 2016. In India, we have 402 million Internet users out of which 94% of users access the Internet through their mobile phones in Urban India and is has reached 112 million in rural India in June 2016.

Photo Sharing: Around 2,600 events take place in India in a year on an average and over 51% event attendees engage with the clicking and sharing of photos.

Our goal is to move fast and innovate. We’re releasing at least one update to the app every month making Vebbler faster and cheaper to use, and also at the same time building features to solve the numerous problems the youth face when sharing photos in real-time with their friends and loved ones.

Exhibit: What’s the response like from the users?
SB: We have received an overwhelming response from our users in a short span of time. We have scaled to over 400,000 users across 118 countries in just a few months. Top countries include India, USA, Iran and Argentina, and top cities include Ashburn, New Delhi, and Bengaluru.

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