We had reviewed Qureka some time back where had debated whether Qureka can be the social network of India. If you haven’t read the article then please have a look here. With that as we had promised we got the Founder of Qureka, Avinash Anandan to answer our questions. Please find Avinash’s thoughts shared below:
1. Thanks for talking to us, Avinash. Can you talk about your team and the story behind Qureka.
Thank you very much for giving us this opportunity. This is the first official interview of Qureka post our launch. So it’s a little special for us.
Discovery has always been a problem on the internet. The first phase of the internet was categorizing information and web pages( The Yahoo Era), Then the web exploded and then categorization wasn’t enough and we turned to search to find information(The Google Era), then the social networks came along to build the social graph to map our real-world connections online(The Facebook Era and still on). So the question is what’s next?
As of today, more than a billion people are on the Internet. How does one derive value out of all these connections? How does one discover likeminded people and information of one’s interest without spending too much time searching or browsing through random profiles. How does one trust the info written in profiles that they themselves say they are experts at?
So the major questions are around 2 points -
a) The interest graph which will map out people’s interests and build connections around that rather than just friends.
b) An authority graph which will give people authority on their interests and what they are good at.
Both of these in conjunction will lead to a better discovery of information and people of one’s interests.
These questions hit my mind and it was a Eureka moment for me and I guess that’s when Qureka was born. The race to own the interest graph and the authority graph is just getting started and I am glad that Qureka is a humble attempt to be a part of that curve.
As for the team, I handle Product and Strategy, my co-founder Payal Shah handles all Marketing/Sales and Operations and we have a 2 member dev team.
2. Qureka is a social network but then why would I create another new one. What are the driving factors?
First, let’s get to the definition of what social is currently.
a) Facebook allows us to stay in touch with the people you know - no interest graph, no authority graph and hence not built for discovery.
b) Twitter is a great information discovery resource but it’s not refined and is raw hosefire of information. Also it has no authority graph and that hinders discovery of people effortlessly.
As for Qureka, it is built from the ground up for your interests, to help you discover the best people you don’t know and information that you might not search for all the time but would be of interest to you if it was shown to you. The whole thing is about serendipity. So if you want, you can call Qureka a discovery network.
3. ‘Places’ looks good visually. Can you share a bit more about this feature and how effectively can a user use this?
Qureka takes the real-world concept of “Places and Events” to fuel discovery of new people and information online for your interests.
In real life, people visit “Places and Events” they frequent or those that interest them. Places and Events have a unique quality whereby they bring people of similar interests together. Places and Events enable discovery of new information of a particular interest. Also, at such places and events, people interact with other people to discover them better. In short, Real World Places/Events = New Information + Live Interactions with People.
Qureka simulates this real world discovery experience by bringing people and information together online at “Place and Events” of interest - from art to music, sports to films, business to technology and many more. Each Place has information and is Live with people. Users can consume information as well as have live Interactions with people in it. For this, we have built a revolutionary patent-pending zoom interface that will enable a real-world discovery experience.
In addition to visiting places and Events of interest, Users can also create their own Place to post all forms of digital content (photos, videos, audio, text and many more) of their interests from the web or from their computer. This helps other people discover the user and his/her interests better.
We also have a very nifty feature called showcase in Places. On Facebook/Twitter, everything you post goes into a timeline. So content that is of interest to you and you want others to see is lost. The showcase feature on Qureka allows you to highlight the ones you want everyone to see the moment they visit your place.
We built a recommendation engine (the Feed page) for passive discovery even when the best of other like-minded people are not online and also to get the best information for your interests all in one screen.
4. Recommendation plays a big role in Qureka. Do you want to share a bit more on this feature?
As I said earlier, the interest graph plays a major role in discovery of people and information of your interests. But it’s not complete by itself. It has to be complemented by an authority graph and this is what the recommend feature helps build.
Let me give you an example - Suppose you are shown 10 people and 10 information pieces for your interests. How do you know who is a good person to connect with, which information is good and what’s not?
The recommend feature gives people a way to give authority to other people and information pieces for better discovery experience for themselves and for other likeminded people on Qureka.
5. Qureka is pretty new but how has been the response from the users and how many are from India. Do you mind sharing any figures?
We launched a month back and the response has been humbling so far. Close to 80% of our users are currently from India. And I apologize for not sharing all the numbers in this early stage. But I can share one stat with you. The average time spent on the website by a user is close to 12-13 minutes.
We are starting online events in Places on Qureka pretty soon. Everyday there will be a guest, remarkable in his or her own way in their particular field and will interact with people interested in that particular field. We believe this will push the envelope of interest based discovery of people and information to a whole new level.
6. Finally, I know this is too early to ask but any thoughts on how you are going to generate revenue?
Since Places on Qureka mimic real world places, we can have different real-world revenue models brought to Qureka. But early on, we are looking to monetize by holding Online Events at various Places on Qureka and a new form of advertising in Places.
The next generation that is going to shape up will be driven on sentiments and interests, so on those lines Qureka is right on the track. Online events and advertising in Places would be something exciting to look forth to. However, saying that Qureka’s biggest challenge would be getting sizable dedicated Indian users initially who are having fun on networks such as Facebook, Twitter and off late on Google Plus.
So will you give a try to Qureka and if not, then what do you think Qureka lacks? We would be happy to listen to your view points.