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With AR, VR, and MR, the integration of physical boundaries with the experiences we have is limitless. To provide a top-notch experience in this field, Naren Kumar, Pratik Khade, Deepa Karthik launched IamHere in 2017. IamHere is an AI-powered hyper local social network to discover and collaborate for hobby, profession and social causes. The vision is to bridge the gap between the virtual digital world and the real physical world. Five years from now, this venture’s goal is to become the go-to platform for all things neighborhood.
Discover an exceptional startup story of IamHere, a Successful Hyperlocal Social Network.
IamHere - Company Highlights
- Startup Name-IamHere
- Sector-GPS/HyperLocal Social Network
- Founders-Naren Kumar,Pratik Khade, Deepa Karthik
About & How IamHere Works?
IamHere provides “location as a platform” to connect on the map for hobby, profession and social causes. Through an AI-enabled infrastructure of location-based discovery and collaboration, IamHere is building a “Hyperlocal Social Network” for Neighborhoods and “Private Social Network” for Companies, Colleges, and Residential societies.
This company started with the aim of creating “Google Maps for People”. During the journey the team figured out that when it is about people, it cannot be just about a map-based discovery, people have to interact. So, they introduced chats and walls, and evolved the platform into a “Hyperlocal Facebook”.
Target Market Size of IamHere
IamHere operates in the location-based discovery and services (LBS) market. Allied Market Research puts this at $30B today growing at a CAGR of 27%, which means one is looking at a market of over $100B by 2025. In India alone, LBS right now is expected to be over $1B.
Founders & Team of IamHere
Naren Kumar, Pratik Khade and Deepa Karthik are the founders of IamHere.
Naren Kumar | Founder, IamHere
“Deepa and I have known each other for the last twenty years since our BITS Pilani days.” Said Naren Kumar.
Deepa was in Mumbai then as well. While Naren spent a good amount of time post BITS in technology and business roles at Cisco, Schneider Electric and most recently, at an IoT startup called 2020 Imaging taking it to $1 million in revenues, Deepa spent time at Amazon, Redbus, Groupon and Zoomcar successfully launching B2C apps in Indian and South Asian markets as a product management leader. Both of these founders knew Pratik from our professional network and he is a technology leader from Nokia, Samsung, LG and most recently led the product development for an internet security startup called Virsec.
“We are a small team of ten people now. Since three years from now, the entire company will be built around this initial team, and so we have been very stringent in our hiring so far. While we do test the core expertise exhaustively during our interview process, we look for character and culture fit more than that.” Added Naren Kumar.
How IamHere was Started?
When Naren first went to Mumbai to post his MBA, he struggled to know my neighborhood. He is a Guitarist and used to be part of a band back here in Bangalore. He landed in Mumbai and could not find musicians near him. People he could go to the gym with, he could play cricket with, somebody from his school network, he just could not find anyone. Ironically, when Naren was moving out of one of the societies thereafter three long years, he found out that his neighbor was also from ISB, the same B-school that he went to. “We jokingly said, ‘Had one of us been in New York, we would have found each other, just that we happened to be neighbors.’” Said Naren Kumar.
That is exactly when Naren realized that though technology today does a fine job of connecting people across the globe, it falls short of establishing connections in the neighborhood. He started meeting people across the social spectrum with this idea. They acknowledged that they do not know people in their neighborhood, they do not know about business promotions nearby, they do not know about events happening nearby. And that way, he saw a larger problem to be solved here. And that’s how the idea for IamHere was germinated.
Name, Tagline & Logo of IamHere
When the core team was brainstorming the names, Naren met a cab driver who asked him not to keep names that nobody will understand. And that’s when they decided that it will have to be a very simple English name that everyone would relate to, and will also have a global appeal when the firm eventually goes global. At the same time, the founders wanted a name that resonates with the location philosophy they imbibed. When they shortlisted a few names, they tried bouncing it off to people. Naren went to the same cab driver and asked him, how is “I am here”? He smiled and said in Kannada, “Sir, I didn’t even pass Class 5 but I can understand this name, please keep this, one day I will download the app and tell everyone that I gave ideas for this name”. Thus was born “IamHere”. Logo and tagline, just followed post a branding exercise.
IamHere Startup Launch
When the prototype was ready, it was tested with 100 users within the friends and family circle. A few months post that when the Alpha was ready, it was launched on the Play Store and was tested with about 1000 users in Bangalore. “We hit the streets as a team,” added Naren Kumar.
Post that the team did Beta testing with about 10K users, and they did a mix of offline and online targeting. Today, IamHere has more than 100K users in Bangalore and it is all through word of mouth, digital marketing, and B2B2C targeting. “We are no longer on the streets trying to acquire users.” Said Naren Kumar.
The pitch of “Neighborhood social network” clicks with users. For every user that the company gets, the team knows that they will refer IamHere to at least one more user. While word of mouth marketing and digital marketing acquisitions are going on, they have launched our B2B2C vertical to build social networks within closed communities and this is giving us aggregated users. But since they wanted to build a scalable platform from the beginning, the founders have focused on a strong partnership model from day one.
For example, they work with EventsHigh to aggregate events across the country, they work with GuideStar to aggregate NGOs across the country. IamHere is the largest aggregation of verified NGOs in the country today because of the partnerships. It has partnerships with iNurture for college communities, with GreatBuyz for hyperlocal promotions. Hyperlocal users are the core ones and this portal provides the ecosystem to them through a great chain of partners. So, the company must follow the hyperlocal business model to cater the needs of their users.
Business & Revenue Model of IamHere
IamHere has a two-pronged approach to the business model. A hyperlocal social network for the B2C market, that revolves around Social commerce for transactions and advertisements, and a Private social network for the B2B2C market that revolves around Subscription structure for closed communities like Companies, Colleges, and Residential societies.
Startup Challenges at IamHere
When IamHere was launched, the main challenge was user acquisition. While it still remains a challenge, the bigger challenge that the company hits upon is user engagement. Being a social network, daily and weekly users who contribute to the network are critical. When IamHere had hit its first 10K users, the team ringed up all of them. The founders had personally spoken to 1000+ users.
“We gathered all the feedback, took almost six months from there to launch the product that we have today. We are still collecting feedback, and are still fine-tuning the product, but the direct conversation with a diverse set of 10K users went a long way in shaping what the product is today.” added Naren Kumar.
Funding & Investors of IamHere
IamHere had raised a $300K round from Angels in the US, who are senior management in Apple, Facebook, Bloomberg, and HP. They believed in the idea from day one and have been mentoring the IamHere team through the journey. Most of the funds have gone into Product Development. The team has just started with a few marketing activities now to embark on a journey of 100K users to 1M users.
Advisors & Mentors of IamHere
Subra Krish, CEO at Lemnisk and ex-Head of Products at Vizury is the Business Mentor for IamHere founders.
Bhaskar Raju, CTO at Licious and Founding Team at Redbus is the Technology Mentor for them.
Thiru Palani, Principal at HP and ex-Architect at Deloitte has been helping them with the cloud strategies.
Growth of IamHere
IamHere has more than 100K users now in Bangalore. It is doing pilots with a few big corporate names for their internal social networks. From adding 100 users a day six months back, it has now figured out ways to add 1000 users every day with minimal spending. From 10 users coming through word of mouth a year back, today the team proudly is talking about 500 users coming organically in turn building trust among its users.
Awards & Recognition of IamHere
There are a few noteworthy recognitions that IamHere has backed.
AppBrain, the global rating platform for apps puts us in the Top 10 Social apps in India.
ELEVATE, the Government grant initiative in 2019.
The Economic Times “Emerging Tech Startup” award.
Got into the Top 6 startups of Financial Express.
Most recently, IamHere was recognized at the annual AsiaOne Awards in Bangkok.
“While user recognition is the most important metric we go after, these awards give us the much-needed boost now and then to keep us going.” Said Naren Kumar.
Future Plans of IamHere
“Two years from now, we would have crossed 10 million users and would be present in 25+ cities across the country” concluded Naren Kumar.
What is IamHere?
IamHere is an AI-powered hyper local social network to discover and collaborate for hobby, profession and social causes.
What services does IamHere provide?
IamHere provides “location as a platform” to connect on the map for hobby, profession and social causes.
Who is the founder of IamHere?
Naren Kumar, Pratik Khade and Deepa Karthik are the Founders of IamHere.
What is the aim of IamHere?
This company started with the aim of creating “Google Maps for People”.
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