From the utility of your month expenses to the whimsy of organizing the next office event round, it seems like there is an app for just about everything. But in the minds of the most adventurous app developers, this is just the first generation of technologies that we will wonder how we ever lived without.
When most people think of mobile app development, the first apps that come to mind are usually productivity apps such as Dropbox, Mail, and Evernote, games such as Angry Birds, Cut the rope, and Doodle Jump, or social apps like Facebook, TweetDeck, and Foursquare. All of these apps are constructed to slip into the cracks of our busy lifestyles, aiding us in some form or fashion.
Catching up on Facebook while in line at KFC. Entertainment while waiting for a friend to arrive. Checking in to a restaurant while walking through the door. Although mobile apps like these are becoming more and more integrated into our everyday lives, there is still an entire sea of uncharted waters left to explore.
As technological innovations such as location based services, augmented reality, the accelerometer, etc. open new doors daily, apps are slowly starting to reach out and take advantage of all these new features and create truly unique experiences. Recently one of my friends referred me to download this app called hike, a free messaging tool.
“I already use WhatsApp, why should I download this?” I asked her, and to my surprise, I instantly received a SMS from her saying “coz it gives you free messaging!” And believe me, without wasting a second more, I downloaded the app. However, it took me few days to realize the benefits of the app, when I could send my friends (who didn’t had smart phones) free SMS right from my mobile, and now it’s on my list of “most frequently used app.”
It was a pleasure to interview Kavin Bharti Mittal, the idea hero behind hike, and its upcoming success.
How would you introduce hike?
hike is a cross platform messenger that aims to make communication simple and personal again. With a beautiful user experience and emotional emoticons, there hasn’t been a better and more simple way to express yourself to all your friends. With hike you can message all your friends. hike to hike is free globally and one can also message friends who don’t have the app installed for free, as making SMS messaging pretty seamless.
How was the idea conceptualized and developed? Any specific inspiration?
In India, given the low penetration of data enabled smartphones, there is fragmentation in messaging. Mobile users have 4-5 apps that keep them in touch with their friends. Over time this becomes very tedious to manage. We asked ourselves is there an app that combines the real-time, free nature of IM with the openness and ubiquity of SMS? We couldn’t find one so we built hike.
How is the feedback that you are receiving about the app’s growth in the market?
The feedback has been amazing. We’re seeing great number users come onto hike on all platforms including the S40 app we just recently launched.
Five years before AppSpark, did you know you would go with the stream of online enterprise?
Five years before AppSpark, I think I was just about to enter high school. I’m a big F1 fan and I won’t be surprised if back then I wanted to be involved in F1 in some way. Short answer is no.
WhatsApp has taken the market by the storm, how do you think that hike will bring a change in the scenario?
IM market globally is a very fragmented market. We have WhatsApp, WeChat, Kik, Line, KakaoTalk and each have between 50-150M users. As a matter of fact half of the overall smartphone users still don’t really use a messaging app like so. There are big players but the market is still early.
You are a young entrepreneur, how has the journey been so far? Any ups and down you came across?
Being an entrepreneur one always has ups and downs. There are days when sky is the limit and others when you’re up till 6 AM figuring out what went wrong with your servers. It’s been a fantastic journey. One of great learning. I’ve learnt more in these last 3-4 years than I have in my entire life.
You were all set in UK, how did starting a venture in India comes up as a thought?
India is a big market. The potential of building something that could impact 1B people that access the internet from a mobile device was too exciting of an opportunity to pass up on. That said, if it wasn’t for AppSpark, I don’t think I would’ve been in a position to run BSB.
According to you, what has made the investment worth it?
It’s still early days. Ask me that question in a year.
What were the risks as a starter for you? And now, what risks are you willing to take for ‘Hike’?
Risk was not taking the usual route of getting a job or joining other business in the group and starting from scratch. Honestly speaking that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. I don’t care much for what people think, I do what I do, because I’m extremely passionate. hike is one of the most beautiful, well built products out there in the market and we’re going to do whatever it takes, so that it’s around for years to come.
According to you, what will be the future of mobile app industry?
Apps are a great form of distribution. There are people who build apps for the sake of apps and then there are those who get their services across users in the form of apps. We fall in the latter category and I hope more people follow.
There is no doubt in my mind that this has become and will remain a great source of distribution for years to come.