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Enabling the 'aam aadmi' to share photographs online

Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 8:52am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The first Instagram-inspired application in Hindi, founded by five US-based Indians, will launch its Windows phone version in February.

Phoenix, Arizona, US-based Yaarmobile, a start-up founded by five entrepreneurs of Indian descent, is convinced there is a lot of merit in research firm Avendus Capital’s estimate that the Indian gaming and app market, with a potential for 100 crore smartphone users, is expected to cross Rs 2,700 crore in revenues by 2016.

Hence, it is scaling up its PhotoYaar, a free photo-sharing and social networking app built in the mould of the more globally popular Instagram.

Launched in August with an initial investment of just Rs 10 lakh, PhotoYaar is available in both English and Hindi, its USP, and seeks to woo the aam aadmi (or the common man – euphemism for the mobile-cam-happy, Hindi-speaking, probably illiterate average Indian).

Come February, Yaarmobile will launch the Windows phone version of Photoyaar which is currently available for Android and Apple phone users. Downloads have touched 2,700, and user feedback has encouraged Yaarmobile to consider patenting PhotoYaar.

That’s not all. Yaarmobile is seized of the fact that mobile data is being aggressively pushed by all telecom companies (telcos) in India in expectation that data volumes will overtake voice sooner than later.

So, the start-up’s five founders – 1) US citizen Rick Sagoo, a residential appraiser; 2) Indian passport-holder Milan Patel, a commercial pilot with Indigo; 3) Indian Sumeru Patel, a mechanical engineer; 4) US citizen Neil Patel, a chartered accountant;  and 5) UK citizen Bob Chaddha, a former pilot but currently  unemployed – are looking ahead to sew up further investments (probably from a leading software firm, with some stake also offloaded to a global social networking site). That Facebook bought Instagram is not lost on them.

There’s not an iota of doubt in their minds that PhotoYaar is a potential winner given its USP, and that the initial target of 30 lakh downloads will be reached earlier than expected, given the momentum of positive word-of-mouth.

So, through strategic advertisements, Yaarmobile will seek to woo the aam aadmi via India’s formidable vernacular media as well as social networking sites, to be backed up by intense marketing over the next 4-5 months.

Also on the anvil are possible tie-ups with telcos and handset-makers to pre-install PhotoYaar on smartphones.

The initial version of the app was travel-related with tips and experiences for globetrotters. But travellers, the five discovered while testing the app’s beta version, were more inclined to share their experiences through photographs.

That insight was enough to scrap the initial version which was reborn as PhotoYaar aimed specifically at Indians whose comfort level with English-driven Facebook and Instagram was not very high.

The ‘yaar’ in PhotoYaar, the quintet says, denotes the popular Hindi slang for ‘friends’ as much as the fact that they -- the five pals -- created the app.

True to its name, the app is user-’friend’ly, they say – users can take pictures, apply digital filters and share them across online destinations like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. To enhance appeal for Indian users, the filters are named after iconic places like the Himalayas (pictured) and Taj Mahal.

Users can even edit their images and create combinations – a contrast to 90% of photo apps that do not allow users to do multiple photo changes after uploading an image. Further fine-tuning is underway to smoothen rough edges in functionality and features.

After winning over India’s aam aadmi, Yaarmobile will launch more apps in the US. PhotoYaar is, however, not competing with Instagram – there are miles to go before it reaches that stage.

“PhotoYaar is the first of a number of ‘Yaar’ apps that will encourage users to be creative,” said Patel.

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