The ban on short video-platform TikTok and other 58 Chinese applications is proving to be a boon for India’s home-grown apps, including Chingari, Mitron, Roposo and Bolo Indya.
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Experts say that Indian tech is now finally waking up to the market earlier dominated by the Chinese companies. But does India have a deep understanding of technology?
Shivank Agarwal, Founder and CEO of the Mitron app, being seen as one of the likely replacements of TikTok, says there is hardly any investment in India when it comes to this area of technology.
“Recently a lot of investment has gone to e-commerce only. Certainly the content technology industry has been lagging behind as compared to other markets like China or the US. Also, the trust of investors that we can create high-quality apps/ products is lacking somewhere. But now confidence is building up. It is just a matter of time investors will show interest since there is demand from the consumer’s end. Also, India will have supremacy only when we become serious about data privacy and data security,” he said.
Agarwal said that Mitron was launched in March this year to fill that void. The app’s focus would be to provide a world-class platform, along with maintaining the sovereignty and security.
He said the team’s primary focus is to remove the gap between TikTok and Mitron and make it on a par with existing applications.
Mitron has raised Rs 2 crore in a seed funding round from 3one4 Capital and a LetsVenture syndicate led by start-up investor Arun Tadanki after having scaled usage to over 21 million (2.1 crore) downloads in a span of a few weeks since its launch.
The video app that allows users to create, upload, view and share entertaining short videos witnessed its daily traffic jump 11 times a day after the Government announced a ban on 50 Chinese apps.
With a deep commitment to user privacy, data integrity and localisation, the app has been rapidly enhancing the product with several improvements for the users, including an updated video upload process that is much more intuitive, enhanced audio library with a wide choice of Indian content, and a feature that enables users to flag any inappropriate content easily.
TikTok in the past was reported multiple times and came under the scrutiny because of violent content and security-related reasons.
Talking about maintaining the quality of content on the platform (as in the past apps such as TikTok faced heavy criticism for controversial content and to not have similar issues), Agarwal said, “Bad quality content comes out only when the app is not listening to the people. The real challenge is to find and remove the violent content quickly. There's always something new to fix. Therefore, from the very beginning, we are being very observant and quick of what users are liking or not liking. And we are trying to be proactive in removing bad quality content.”
A team of 10 people are working on the application, eight of which belong to the engineering team. With greater and deep focus on development, the team believes that most of the problems can be easily solved by technology. And with the proper workflow that it has, it expects to be quick in removing any controversial or indecent piece of content from its platform.
A month ago, multiple media reports had said how the app’s entire source code, including its full set of features and the user interface, was bought from Pakistani software developers. The app was even briefly removed from Google Play for violating Google's ‘Spam and Minimum Functionality’ policy. Its source code was initially said to have a link with a Pakistani developer.
After a clarification from the team, the app made its way back to Play Store on June 5.
“We are actively doing audit with third-party companies for quality and security. So, we are building strong tech infrastructure while providing a secure environment to consumers,” he said.
The application has been downloaded by 21 million (2.1 crore) users in India. It has become one of the most downloaded apps in India in the last two months with nearly one million new videos created per day on the platform.
Agarwal said it is not just the ban on TikTok that has helped Mitron to grow. “We started the application in March when there was no ban. The real growth had started long before, but the ban has definitely helped,” he said.
Users have uploaded millions of videos in 10 different languages and the number of videos viewed on the platform increased sharply to cross 40 million video views per hour. The application is available in just English but its audio library has 10 languages. Going forward, it plans to be more vernacular in terms of the text content that it is displaying on the app and video content as well.
Apart from this, he said how demand from tier II and tier III markets is similar to what it is getting from the urban cities, which is helping it grow tremendously.
Agarwal attributed this surge in download to its power of listening to the consumers. He said, “Our USP and differentiation point is that the application doesn’t have a mix of content. Viewers’ value decreases usually when the application focuses on multiple features. We are very clear on what we want. We want this application to be very easy to use, a very creative, efficient tool that we are investing heavily on. The other part is we ensure users to see those videos only that they’re interested in.”
It is also open to branded content opportunities.
With not much focus on its promotion and marketing, Agarwal said that the most important component of the app is the experience it is providing to content creators as plenty of them had lost their livelihood with the ban on TikTok.
It is now reaching out to those creators and helping them with the comparative viewership and in fact, a good sizeable number of influencers are actually coming on it.
The application is now available only for Android users in India.