College, work , exams, responsibilities, priorities and a lot more has tied us down to such an extent that spending time with your loved ones has shifted from being a necessity to a luxury, afforded only by a few. Social media has made this luxury a bit easy to afford but everything comes with its pros and cons. With your boss, distant cousins, neighbours, ex boyfriend and all those people breathing down your back on every social media platform, privacy with a few has gone for a toss.
Vebbler is a personal network that was launched in Mumbai a month and a half ago. It is built with a mission to create a world where people have more meaningful conversations with different relationships in their lives without one aspect of their life spilling into another. It is one of the first ambitious projects to create a homegrown social media platform in India.
Have a look at a quick introduction to Veebler
Vebbler is founded by Sahil Bhagat and engineered by a passionate team mostly in their early 20s who love building products. Startoholics connected with the man behind this platform and here’s what he shared with us.
Tell us a bit about your background and the path that ultimately led you towards Vebbler.com
A few years ago, I was working on another social network called Frogster, which was a platform to connect people passionate about various causes. I even received seed funding from a company in New Delhi. Frogster was later re-modelled to become a more mass-driven, holistic network which paved way for the birth of Vebbler. India has grown to become the second largest country for social media user base, and with half of the country being young and internet-savvy, India proved to be a very lucrative market. Around that time, people were sceptical about privacy (which continues till today) when parents, teachers and even office bosses were sending ‘friend requests’.
When the Site was being re-modelled, I kept one core philosophy in his mind – Vebbler needed to offer a deeper and more layered form of sharing, which we now call the ‘Crowd Layering Model’. I also focused on building Vebbler on the ‘personal networking’ model rather than the social networking model, in a way where conversations held more importance than connections. Our company’s motto is ‘you rather add a 100 people and intimately share with most of them rather than adding a 1000 people and sharing with none of them’.
How long did it take to put together Vebbler.com?
It took us a little over a year to launch Vebbler into beta.
How difficult has the journey been? Any stories you would like to share?
It’s been a very exciting year, with a fair share of ups and downs. The funniest moment we had was one day before launch, when the site’s main pages i.e. the homepage, profile page and waves page stopped working. After signing in, it showed a blank screen. Everybody panicked, as nobody knew why that happened. Thus began the process of going through thousands and thousands of lines of code and in the end, the problem was found. There was an extra space on one line in one of the pages.
How different is Vebbler.com from its competitors?
Facebook and other platforms are designed on the ‘social networking’ model, an open platform to connect with a large group of people and acquaintances. An average person has between 1000-1500 friends, of which only 200 or so may be real and intimate connections. However, we now see that people are radically changing the way they share and express themselves online. It’s not 2008 and today we have parents, teachers, colleagues and even bosses on social media. They understand there are certain things that you cannot share in large open networks that you can in more intimate groups. Hence, companies are beginning to develop products based on a new model of ‘personal networking’, which gives users an intimate platform to express themselves freely with close and meaningful relationships.
Our aim was not to just create ‘another social network’. Vebbler has been designed with the core purpose of catering to users wanting a personal, intimate and judgement-free place to connect with the people who really matter to them. And we have tried to take this model one step further: By Layering Every Relationship.
What is next in line for Vebbler.com?
- Location Based Sharing
- Instant communication
- Automated and Custom Clubs
- More features for Photos
How do you plan to promote Vebbler.com?
We’ve made two promotional films which spread the message of Vebbler online. We are also doing some targeted internet advertising. We started an initiative called Campus Connect, which empowers students in campuses in India and across to spread the message of Vebbler and bring in more people. As of now, we have Ambassadors in 17 colleges, with one in Nigeria, and hope to spread to many more colleges soon.
What is the hardest aspect about this job?
Building a social media product that can compete, both aesthetically as well as functionally, with established western platforms, was the biggest challenge for the company. It involved a long ideation process, which included building new features, re-modelling the functionality of existing features, and creating a visually stunning user interface that was easy to use.
Five years down the line, where do you visualize Vebbler.com?
Vebbler aims to become the leading social media platform for personal networking by investing in quality rather than quantity. The platform is determined never to lose focus on the fact that in order to keep the platform personal, it must implement their ‘crowd layering model’ in every product and every feature in the future.
Lastly, one piece of advice for our budding startup entrepreneurs.
Dream big and be fearless. Remember, everything started from nothing.
Dying to share your trip details with your best friend? No need to worry about your boss finding out! Vebbler is indeed a brilliant idea that will help us connect with our people maintaining the privacy we are looking for.