Tired of fake identities on social networking sites? Have a desire for real friends in a virtual world? Here comes The Decent Planet for you then!
Piyush Grover and Piyush Pandey (co-founders) have come up with a great idea of The Decent Planet, a social network for making new friends within an environment that is free from obscenity, fake profiles, trolls and spammers. This makes it extremely conducive for intellectually stimulating and thought provoking discussions.
“It was the need to have a decent place where interactions will be positive, healthy, engaging, enlightening and yes funny, but never indecent. We could not find it, so we created it.”
Startoholics connected itself to Piyush Grover who shared with us his entrepreneurial journey and road to success. Here are the words from the man itself:
The Beginning of Decent Planet
Both of us, Engineers & MBAs who feel strongly about entrepreneurship and equally suck at spelling that word correctly.
We’ve known each other for more than 8 years and always wanted to get into the entrepreneurship mode, but we didn’t know when and how.
So, one fine day, we were out having dinner and talking about how the internet has become a playground for fake profiles, spammers & trolls. The discussion continued till hours, and by that time, we had concurred to launch a platform that addresses these key issues.
Having realized the seriousness of this problem, and how (in a broader sense) it impedes the flow of intellectually stimulating discussions, and the fact that we couldn’t find a solution anywhere, we thought of coming up with a solution.
We’re pursuing this as this affects a significant number of people (read everybody). And solving this problem can bring in a cultural improvement (culture of decency) on the internet and its impact could be humongous and in all kinds of sectors from social networking to dating, matrimony, employment filters, real- estate(renting houses).
The registration works unlike any other social networking website, it’s not open for all, and decency is a mandatory prerequisite.
Someone who wishes to be a part of The Decent Planet, needs to fill the sign-up form which has some basic questions and some not-so-basic questions.
1st step: While studying their form, we try to gauge the thought process and the applicant’s interest level about this concept.
2nd step: We check their online presence to see if there’s any tendency or history of indecency.
There’s always a pattern which makes it easier to recognize the potential trouble-makers.
Having said that, we’re working on making the sign-up process extremely authentic but at the same time hassle-free for the users.
So, we’re working on an algorithm to automate the 2nd step of checking their online presence, we’ve named it ‘Decency Quotient’. It will also serve as an automated control mechanism and as an alternative to manual selection.
It’s the environment that makes it unique
Let me start by writing, The Decent Planet is not competing with the likes (no pun intended) of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ because none of them cater to the social networking space where people can make new friends.
Some of the websites in this space are: Badoo (our biggest competitor), Fropper, Stepout.
What differentiates us is the fact that we rely predominantly on a pro-active approach of not letting potential trouble-makers to pass through the entry barrier. None of our competitors use this approach, giving a free-run to trolls, spammers, obscenity lovers and fake profiles.
Despite culture being a non-quantifiable term, we consider it to be paramount. Hence, we’re trying to build a culture of decency, initially by applying a manual filtration process, which will eventually run in parallel to core users acting as recruiters, and finally ‘Decency Quotient’ merging with the existing setup.
Obstacles on the way
We’re sort of budget-strapped and that has been a major challenge in terms of our marketing activities. But, we’re looking at interesting and inexpensive ways to promote our venture. We went around the city meeting people & also sent e-mails to those who’re making great contributions, we gave them certificates (not that we’re any kind of an authority but as a gesture to appreciate their courage & efforts). We located them at Teach for India Campaigns, Blood Donation Drives, various NGOs.
Since we intend to promote a culture of decency through our social network and the fact that a lot of the people we met were also tech savvy youngsters, this turned out to be a good marketing campaign.
A hard nut to crack
When you have a 9 to 5 job, you know when to switch ON and OFF. But when you’re working on your own startup, there’s no OFF. Not even while you’re asleep. So, it’s pretty hard to balance the life outside your work, especially in the initial phase of your start-up.
One Startup Mistake
We’ve made a lot of mistakes; one of them would have to be – taking too much time to launch the website. The key is to get to your target user base as early as possible, then get their feedback and iterate accordingly. There’s nothing better than positive word-of-mouth to get users.
New features in the pipeline
We intend to integrate ‘Gravity’ which will be a clean, non-intrusive, curated dating application which will take into account Decency Quotient while addressing the problem of approaching the potential ‘SO’ (significant other).
Also planning to bring in an online debate platform, 3rd party apps & social gaming, astronomy themed design, ‘The Best Of The Internet’ (feed of the best content floating on the internet where users can also subscribe to sub-categories such as The Best Of Technology, The Best Of Nature, The Best Of Business, The Best Of Entertainment etc.) and a mobile app. The feedback that we’ve got from the early users has been very encouraging and has met our expectations. It keeps us motivated.
A Million Dollar Advice
Perseverance (with positive attitude) will be THE key to your venture’s success. Most of the ‘overnight successes’ took years to be called that. There will always be people telling you what’s wrong with your startup; be open minded and take their feedback to use it to your advantage. Always be willing to learn (from anyone.)