Wanna that hyperlocal news? Go Lokal
Two IITians have started a Lokal, a news app, to bring local news to hundreds of millions of users in India in their regional languages.
The startup, which is currently available in Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, has already amassed more than two million users. Jani Pasha, co-founder of Lokal, hails from Kodad in Telangana and graduated from IIT Kharagpur in 2013.
"When I was working as head of product in a used car marketplace in India, I met Vipul who was trying to sell a car diagnostic tool to me. We instantly clicked and have been working together for 5 years now," says Pasha.
Before creating Lokal, Pasha and the other co-founder of the startup, Vipul Chaudhary, attempted to develop a news aggregator app. The app presented news events in a timeline, offering context around each development. "We built that product because of our perceived need. After building the product, we realised no one needed it. Realizing the mistake we did, we went back to the drawing board and started doing user interviews to understand problems in news consumption. So, we interviewed our friends and family members, people in cities and towns as well."
Pasha said that 70% of these people in towns of India have not travelled further than their adjacent towns. They are living in these towns for generations and are curious to know what is happening around them. They depend on this hyperlocal information to conduct their businesses and for their daily lives. This hyperlocal information is not available digitally for them. So, with this insight, they started working on Lokal in 2018 as neighbourhood platform in Indian languages.
Speaking of how Lokal is unique from other apps, Pasha shares that they started by giving local news. Along the journey, the team found that classifieds, matrimonial ads and things like birthday wishes are still driving people to newspapers, so the app has brought those things to the platform. "We are helping these users navigate from entertainment to like finding jobs, connect with businesses, connect with people in their neighborhood."
Lokal is targeting audiences in Tier-2, Tier-3 and Tier-4 towns. It aims to eventually be an app that can help these audiences with every little inconvenience they have. Not sure if your local grocer is overcharging you for vegetables? Check Lokal, Not clear why there is so much traffic today? Check Lokal, confused about which government policies can help your business the most? Check Lokal.
"The app has everything in it from real estates, matrimony to local news in 68 districts overall. For the time being, our competition is only Google and WhatsApp." Jani said.
Pasha said Lokal will expand to Karnataka, Kerala by next month and slowly covering Maharshtra, Gujarat and west Bengal. "The plan is to eventually bring this to the entire India," he said.