Web Exclusive
These techies built a social media start-up from their college hostel room

Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra flanked by Hapramp co-founders Pratyush Singh (extreme left) and Shubhendra Vikram
On June 11, a day after well-known industrialist and chairman of Mahindra Group Anand Mahindra committed an investment of $1 million in social media start-up Hapramp, its creative social media app GoSocial saw unprecedented traffic due to which the app's server crashed for some time.

"The last time I remember such a crash was when @disneyplus launched #babyyoda in #StarWars #Mandalorian. Yesterday, our servers couldn't keep up with the overwhelming love from everyone! But we are back now, with more infra," tweeted Jaspreet Bindra, mentor of the company and former Senior Vice President-Digital Transformation (equivalent to the Chief Digital Officer) of the $20 billion Mahindra Group of Companies tagging Anand Mahindra and Hapramp's founder Shubhendra Vikram.

"Not a bad problem to have. But I'm glad you've expanded the infrastructure...," was Mahindra's response to this tweet. His backing could be one of the biggest endorsements the founders of Hapramp received so far.

Announcing the investment on June 10, Mahindra tweeted, "Took 2 yrs, but I finally found the start-up I was looking for! @Hapramp is indigenous, built by 5 young founders and brings together a best-in-class combination of creativity, technology and data protection. Look out for @gosocial_app, their social networking platform." In March 2018, Mahindra had expressed interest in backing an Indian social networking company that is widely owned, professionally managed and willingly regulated. "Any relevant Indian start-ups out there? If any young teams have such plans, I'd like to see if I can assist with seed capital," he had stated then. He made this comment in the context of global social media giant Facebook facing flak from various corners in connection with the alleged leakage of data of 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica ahead of the 2016 election campaign in the US.

"His presence adds a lot of value and credibility to the start-up. The nature of his impact is evident by the fact that after he announced this investment on Twitter, Hapramp ranked in the top-5 most searched terms on Google in India across all categories on January 10 in India. This was unexpected for all of us but it has enabled us to attract better talent and build valuable connections," said Vikram. 

Starting up from a hostel

Hapramp officially started operations in 2018 from a hostel room at Indian Institute of Information Technology – Vadodara, with its members working on different projects individually and in teams. The projects include a social media platform for colleges, online music streaming from videos, publication, and a platform for creators etc.

The five co-founders - Shubhendra Vikram (now taking care of business development), Pratyush Singh (tech lead), Ankit Kumar (mobile developer), Mafid Ansari (UI/UX designer) and Rajat Dangi (brand strategist) - knew each other well and complimented the skillset. In the final semester in college, they came together and officially started working on Hapramp.

The company was lucky that it started early when it had more time to experiment, make mistakes and fail on several occasions, instead of spending huge and taking high-cost risks, says Rajat Dangi, co-founder and brand strategist of Hapramp, in the online publishing platform Medium.

Vikram says that in the initial days, they were working in their hostel rooms. After college, they applied to several incubation centres and got selected at Huddle (Gurugram) which helped them grow from a college team to an established startup. It also got selected at Nasscom 10000 startups programme in Gurugram and worked out of their workspace for almost a year. 

"We’ve always tried to keep the team lean and small. We are a team of 12 at present and looking for new engineers to strengthen our tech team. The team will grow to around 25 people in less than a year," said Vikram. 

At Hapramp, they build tech products for the artist and creators community on the Internet with two core focus areas -- to enable earning, and fair treatment of data. The platform is being built in a way that it comes out as the most transparent and community-centric consumer technology in the world. Its vision is to create a fair social media standard that ensures privacy, security, transparency, and fair monetisation of data. These are all very important for the global internet community going forward. 

Products and way forward

The company started from a social media platform for creative communities, 1Ramp.io, on Steem Blockchain, where its users were earning cryptocurrency based on the upvotes on their content, said Dangi. 1Ramp is already live and used in Europe and Southeast Asian countries. In 2019, the startup initiated the GoSocial app and Asteria Protocol, a new standard to treat and store user data that makes privacy and security accessible to all and also allow monetisation.  

GoSocial, which is targeted at creators (photographers, artists, and writers) to find inspiration, exciting contests, and challenges created by experts, currently has over 100,000 creators. The company is continuously increasing its user base and onboarding more creators. In the next couple of years, the founders hope to see GoSocial as the go-to platform to focus in the consumer internet space built, for creators in art, writing, photography, and other niche creative domains. Its target is to onboard one million creators in a year. 

1Ramp is one of the first fully-functional blockchain-based platforms from India, which enables instant content monetisation. It is live in several countries in Europe and South East Asia. ‘Asteria protocol’ is currently under R&D phase and is expected to go line in 2021.

"Our vision is to build a truly global company out of India. In a year from now, we will launch the platform in South East Asia and countries in Europe, and will focus on achieving sustained growth. Our goal is to onboard 1 million creators in a year," said Vikram. 

"There are several ideas and concepts at play here -- vertical communities, P2P exchange of value, and a sense of personal growth. There is a lot more to come and we are excited to share those updates as we progress," said Dangi in his Medium post.
Enable GingerCannot connect to Ginger Check your internet connection

or reload the browserDisable in this text fieldEditEdit in GingerEdit in Ginger×

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel