Kopa

Kopa helps you find interesting people in your neighborhood attending the same event that you are heading to. You can offer a ride to them or join their ride to the event. Apart from saving on fuel and commute, Kopa lets you forge useful relationships with like-minded people. Isn’t that one of the important things you look forward to attending an event?

What’s in a name?

A lot of people, well, at least, a few asked about our product names. So, here’s the story. When we did our digital metering app, we focussed on Bangalore. So, naming the app in Kannada felt right. But, Bangalore has large populations of speakers of other languages too. While scouting for options, I happened to read about ideophones, words that “sound like what they mean” or, as Wikipedia says “words used by speakers to evoke a vivid impression of certain sensation or sensory perceptions, e.g. smell, color, shape, sound, action, or movement.” It sounded like a neat idea to name the app with an ideophone. It’ll evoke the same impression in people speaking different languages, right? Given that the bulk of the Bangalore population speaks some Dravidian language or other, the choice fell on Suruk, which connoted diligence, speed, sharpness etc. signifying what Suruk does. And, it helped that www.suruk.com was available. It was nice also because, between us, we spoke Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada (apart from English and Hindi). We picked Ideophone as the name of the company and thought that we’ll name each of our apps and services with an ideophone. As for SOS app, it was difficult to call it anything other than SOS itself. We excused ourselves saying that, if Morse code was a language, SOS would be an ideophone in that language. So much of retrofitting. Pika (Photo by Alastair Rae) Then came our railway wakeup alarm service. We were looking at numerous ideophones and chanced upon Pika, a Belarusian and Himalayan rodent that alerts other animals with a characteristic sound ‘pika’ (audio). What a linguistically and ecologically fitting find! But, we realised that most people pronounce pika as peeka as well as that the rodent is everywhere in search results. So, we called it Pyka. Don’t know from where we’ll pick the name for our future products, but http://ideophone.org/ would be one place where we’ll look at. I’m sure there would be several interesting stories behind naming products. If you know of any, please share it in the comments. Update: Mark Dingemanse (http://www.mpi.nl/people/dingemanse-mark), a linguist from Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics and expert on Ideophones, likes our naming and has written a blog post at http://ideophone.org/ideophones-around-the-web-ideophones-and-product-naming/. Thanks Mark.

How Pyka calls from the cloud?

A few months ago, when we were brainstorming Pyka, we realised that a reliable and scalable telephony system is critical. That’s when I started exploring platforms that would meet our requirement. One of the cloud telephony platforms widely recommended across various forums was Twilio. I stumbled across this amazing twilio demo and this is now my personal benchmark for a good product demo. Though I was happy with the features, outgoing calls to India were a bit expensive (about Rs.4 per call). I came to know about TringMe, an Indian cloud telephony platform and they had better pricing and we built our proof of concept using that. We were convinced with the idea and started building the whole framework. All we wanted was to play an audio message when the user picks up the call. This wasn’t possible directly in TringMe and we had to internally place another call to achieve it. Just then, our friend Raja of Hexolabs suggested Tropo. I found Tropo simpler than Twilio and, more importantly, the pricing was attractive. Making an outbound call to a phone number and playing an audio was as simple as, <?php call(“+91955550100”); say(“welcome.mp3”); ?> We finally decided to go ahead with Tropo for our MVP after we saw their excellent customer support. Our queries were answered within a couple of hours and this gave us complete confidence. We wanted fine-grained control on the outgoing calls as our system had to call multiple times till the user picks up the call. After we completed the MVP pilot testing, we wanted to build a robust platform with redundancy. We had to keep the cost per call low as well. That’s when we came across Mobme, whose call rates were lower and they had a very rich response format. Their support team was responsive too. So, now we use Mobme for our voice calls for Pyka with an automatic fallback on Tropo. Some of the interesting telephony startups that I came across during this time are Exotel, KooKoo and Miglu. Let us know if there are other interesting cloud telephony platforms that I might have missed.

Where do our Nokia downloads come from?

After launching Suruk on Android, we had a look into our download stats on Ovi to understand the geographic spread of our Suruk users and compare against that of SOS. Following is the distribution of Suruk (click to see full size):* Suruk Distribution Following is the distribution of SOS (includes India downloads on Aircel PocketApps): SOS Distribution   We noticed a couple of interesting things. While there are no downloads for our free app from China, the country is among the top downloaders of our paid app. Perhaps it’s among the ‘unresolved’ countries in the former list. Also, Germany and Switzerland top both downloads and revenue for SOS, but not as much for Suruk. Is this because of SOS is also available in Deutsch? Or is it because they’re relatively likely to buy paid apps than other developed nations? Please share with us in the comments, if you know why. Maps courtesy Gunn Map (political boundaries are indicative, not accurate). During our chat with Albert Ching, he suggested doing a density map of routes searched for in Suruk. Anybody know of a tool which helps plot routes? Update: While digging up our route finder request logs, we found that there are indeed requests from China. So, it appears that, for some reason, Nokia Ovi store counts the downloads under ‘unresolved’ country. Either that or they’re not counted.

Develop Your Idea Into an Android App in 24 Hours

Over the last 4 years, we’ve developed many Android Apps, which have been downloaded over 200,000 times. In that time, we’ve realized that our best work is done in quick, short bursts, with 80% of features built within the first 24 hours. Many startup founders following the lean startup methodology have told us that this is something that they want – to get to a functional app (minimum viable product) in almost no time, instead of floundering to build a full product over months. So today we’re announcing our new Android app development service. We will only take on short, well-scoped projects at the idea & sketch stage. We will turn your idea into an app in 24-72 hours (we can mutually agree on project size first). You will get access to full source code and assets once we’re done. Since we have both developers & UX designers in-house, you’ll get something more than a functional replica of your idea. The project size restrictions will also help you focus and scope out a truly minimal product. We’ve decided to be very transparent & simple with the pricing as well. We’ll charge $250 (Rs. 15,000) per calendar day, and won’t take on projects for longer than 3 days. If we’re unable to finish your product in the time agreed, you get 100% of your money back, simple. Ready to turn your idea into an Android app, overnight? Click here to get in touch with us.

SOS

Ultra-quick, single click SOS when you’re in danger. Gets your location and sends the address to your buddy with a marker on a map. When you’re at risk, every microsecond counts. We go all out to get your location by all means possible and contact your buddy with total certainty by SMS. Works indoors too, if A-GPS is available. SOS is now available for Android.

SMS

Autofare Now get Auto Fare information of most Indian cities with a simple SMS! Auto Fare Auto Fare is a service which helps you find the approximate auto fare between any two places in a city by just sending an SMS in the format given below, @autofare <city>, <source>, <destination> to 9243342000   Sample Queries  @autofare Bangalore, Indira nagar,  Banashankari 3rd stage @autofare Trivandrum, East Fort, Technopark @autofare Chennai, Koyambedu, Anna Salai Spencer Plaza All Indian cities/towns are supported. This service is hosted on txtWeb. SMS delivery happens through its service provider. If you have a smart phone, please check our Suruk app that has lots more features. For latest updates, follow @autofare This service started out as a collaboration with IIIT-D team comprising Raghav Sethi, Akshit Nanda, Lakshay Pandey, Naved Alam, Saloni Jain advised by Dr. Amarjeet Singh. More details on their project can be found here.  

Suruk

Digital Meter Suruk is your own handheld digital meter for auto rickshaw and taxi rides. It shows the distance traveled and the expected fare so that you may know midway whether the meter is rigged. Driver Conduct You’ll also be able to know the past conduct of the driver from other Suruk users. You’re encouraged to rate the driver based on your experience. Route Finder Even before you hire a vehicle, you can find the trip’s approximate fare as well as see the possible route on a map. In short, Suruk is the app to have for any commuter of hired rides. Suruk has preconfigured rates for several cities and allows you to set a new tariff for any city in the world. You can use Suruk’s autofare and routefinder via SMS also. Follow @suruk on Twitter for the latest buzz.

Pyka

Do you travel by train? And, would you like us to call you and wake you up just in time to get down? Do you want to be on time to receive your guest instead of waiting when the train is delayed? Then, PYKA is for you! Pyka is built using our patent-pending technology. It has been pilot-tested with Southern Railways and awaits permission for a commercial launch. For latest updates, follow @pyka

Thank you note

We launched Autofare app on the txtWeb platform back in Mar 2011. We were happy to have one of the most used features on Suruk (Route Finder) integrated with an SMS platform. The instant catching up of the app on the store and exceptionally high usage made one thing very clear to us “a simple and quick way to getting concise information is a huge value-add for users”. Support extended by txtWeb has been exceptional, they featured Auto fare as “App of the Week” and wrote at length in their facebook/twitter pages thereby helping us get huge traction. Thanks to the platform, we quickly built three more apps (@locatetrain, @pyka, and @bmtcroute) in no time. The txtWeb platform is a very well envisaged product, being agnostic to programming languages, seamless integration with existing web-apps, and ability to easily extend an “SMS arm” to any of your web-apps. And to top it all, it requires no learning to newer technology or installation of libraries/SDKs – it’s a developer’s dream to work with such a platform. We and other developers on this platform have suggested many additional feature sets and requirements. We sincerely hope the text web team takes note of it and takes it forward  Also we would like to extend our sincere thanks to Srividhya Ramarathram, Manish Maheshwari, Shantanu Deshmukh, and the geeks in house Srinivasan Narayan a.k.a Srini and Aritra Ghosh for their continuous encouragement and support. Got an idea that can give value to tons of users via SMS? Get Started immediately. Before writing the blog, I thought I will give a short overview on how to get started on txtWeb, but in fact, txtWeb is so simple that no tutorial or help blog post is required to get on-board.