In an interview with MediAvataar India, Ram talked all about the Velfie app, that has combined a video selfie with the ability to be whoever you want to be. He gave us insights on how to be a successful entrepreneur. Also, what drives him to take newer challenges all the time.
Here's the complete Q&A......
MediAvataar: What made you believe in Velfie?
Ram: Look, anything that has an opportunity to express oneself in thousand words in 10 seconds, anything that has vanity involved, anything that has a combination of video, mobile will definitely generate audience and these are the basic beliefs on, which we launched Velfie.
MediAvataar: We as consumers generally lean towards international products than an indigenous invention. Dubsmash is more popular than Velfie. How do you look at it?
Ram: Not necessarily, had we launched before them I am sure we would have got as big or bigger than them given the kind of product features we have, which they don’t. I don’t disagree that they are more popular but this is a classic case of ideas come to life when it is seen first, theirs got seen first so people believe we are not original however we know that we have been working on the construct for a long time however, we launched it in a hurry after seeing their growth specifically in India.
We changed our construct totally to enable a quick launch, we didn’t want to delay the launch any further though this wasn’t our original construct, the product you are experiencing now is just one aspect of the construct. We have learnt from our mistakes given we now have other fringe players from India who have gone onto to copy exactly what we had spoken off so we are trying another pivot and we will let the product speak.
MediAvataar: How is the app doing?
Ram: For an Indian product this has been the fastest kid on the block or you could say prettiest chic in the party on the Android side of the build. We crossed half a million on Android last month, which was our sixth operational month. On iOS we have another 250K and now present in over 140 countries with over 4000 downloads happening organically everyday and off course the number of sounds we have is incredible where consumers have loaded over twenty thousand sound clips in 40 different global languages.
So I guess we are doing well!
MediAvataar: What makes Velfie different from its competition?
Ram: If you use the product you will see a two distinct product features that nobody has, one is the “Pause and Play” feature, what this does is it enables the consumer to capture multiple people in a 10 second sound byte or express him or herself in two different perspectives or in two different locations and when the final product is created it shows a seamless editing that is done on the fly.
Second is a simple but powerful tool, lyrics are right up there for a consumer to read and mime given there are times we don’t know what the dialogues are or the lyrics of the songs are. These are features that fundamentally help the consumer create a better video.
Finally we have auto quality upgrades before someone shares where we give options for a HD quality video to a normal video depending on how the consumer would like to use his/her data on a given upload. HD quality is also made on the fly after the consumer creates the video.
MediAvataar: What according to you is the perfect mantra to build a sticky product?
Ram: There is no perfect mantra but with my little experience over the years one thing that is clear to me is that any product that creates a bridge to the offline world becomes a necessity for a consumer and that is what is called “problem solving” in today’s world.
So I am still at it so cant be an expert to comment on something that I haven’t achieved yet.
MediAvataar: How do you plan to improve the app on a continuous basis?
Ram: Look, while we might be doing reasonably well, money is important for some of the ideas we have and till such time we raise money (something we are not desperate about since we believe we will only raise at the right valuations and till then we will sustain the way we are currently doing, which is boot strapping it) we wont be doing continuous enhancements, however updates and bug fixes is a constant process and we will be at it constantly.
MediAvataar: How have you kept the app more relevant and personal to each individual user?
Ram: Have you ever thought you could be an Amitabh Bachchan or a Shah Rukh Khan? In reality you cant, however we all have this aspect of fantasy in us, a dream world, which is why we all watch movies in the first place, right?
Movies take us to a world, which is not true and we just forget all our real lives and live a reel life for three hours.
That is why we believe that we could invoke the star in you. So here is an opportunity to make a video of who you are actually not and still show a powerful performance like in the case of Anupam Kher who used our product to pay tribute to Marlon Brando:
Or Yuvraj Singh acting on an Amitabh Bachchan dialogue in his own style:
That is why our tag-line is also #YouAreTheStar.
MediAvataar: How much do you agree and believe in startup’s lean philosophy?
Ram: Both Ankush and I are entrepreneurs who have had prior experience in building organizations ground up and so we know exactly how to be boot strapped and that is exactly how we run our business currently. So I fully agree to that philosophy.
MediAvataar: What are the hard-learned lessons from your previous start ups?
Ram: There are many lessons I have learnt running a start up from my two previous efforts. One of the big lessons is that build great teams who would compliment the organizations vision than individual brilliance that will largely look for individual short-term gains.
Vision is long term and it is the entrepreneur’s job to inculcate that into the people he or she works with.
MediAvataar: What would be your foremost advice to people who are thinking of starting their own venture?
Ram: Entrepreneurship is not an easy ball game, for easy ball games play ping-pong.