“The app is made primarily to bridge seekers and volunteers”: Mayank Bhangadia, Co-founder of CloseAPP, Roposo
Around 8 years ago in 2012, Mayank Bhangadia Founded a social video platform ROPOSO. Mayank, an IIT Delhi alumni himself, calls it a platform for entertainment, where people can get more about food, comedy, music, etc.
Later he made an exit from the group to build CloseAPP – a hyperlocal social networking platform in 2021. The app is particularly made for those seeking help in COVID and any information related to it. In an exclusive chat, Mayank Bhangadia helped us understand more about the app. He says, “CloseAPP will work as a bridge between help seekers and volunteers”.
Read the full interview here:
Q) How was your entrepreneurial journey?
I was building Roposo for the last 7-8 years. We were a fashion social network previously. Then we evolved as a full-fledged short video network. This is a platform where users can come and express their talent over various things. The silver lining is people can consume on the basis of their interest without being judged on the platform. Roposo manifests that everyone with talent can be an entertainer and not just Bollywood celebrities. Now there is 100 million-plus user on that app. InMobi group is growing well.
CloseAPP is more like a network where you can connect with the people around you. The platform is to help people struggling with simple things after they have contracted Coronavirus.
Q) What is CloseAPP? What are its benefits?
CloseAPP is a location-based social networking platform that helps users discover and connect with people located in their vicinity at any given time. The hyper-local approach of this open platform helps users reach out for support in real-time in their neighbourhood, raise local concerns, run community-driven initiatives, work towards bringing in social impact, and together create a better, safe, and supportive living environment for all.
Q) How did you come up with the idea of creating this app?
This year, COVID has taken a gigantic embodiment. Almost every home is now prey to this ghastly virus. People with lots of resources can’t do anything to help themselves or their relatives. I myself have so many experiences dealing with Coronavirus. So, I wanted to make a platform that would help people in real-time. Actually, our current social network platforms are where we can connect with people. So, a user’s network can reach from New York, Mumbai, Delhi, and so on. But if he seeks help related to Covid, he might not get it at the right time. Because our network is so broad and staying in some other regions. Suppose, someone needs assistance regarding medicines or transport. He can get help from his area/ locality only. There’s another limitation to these social platforms, one has to have a big network so as to get help, which is again might not be the case for some people.
CloseAPP will work as a bridge between help seekers and volunteers in a particular locality. Sometimes, people would go fatal just because they haven’t received the help in time. This is a platform dedicated to them. Suppose, someone is seeking oxygen, he/she can post about it on the app. Then people using the app in that particular locality can provide the help relating or may respond to it in a positive way.
Q) How user-friendly it is, considering the fact that a lot of patients are Senior Citizens who are not tech-savvy?
The app is made primarily to bridge seekers and volunteers. The app is very easy to use. If a senior citizen wants to come and express his views, they can easily do so. There is no trash. If you visit the app, you will just see people with requirements and volunteers answering them.
The primary flow of language is Hindi, as most people are Hindi speaking in this country. There is English also as an option. You can post text like messaging, upload screenshots, or you can even put a video. Most people are using text as it is easy to write just like WhatsApp. Our main goal is to help the seekers with volunteers. So someone just needs to post in the app using any of the mediums (written above).
Q) What are your expectations from the app?
I think the need of the hour is every device should have CloseAPP. It’s like financial insurance. Nobody understands the importance of it else in dire need and they appreciate it. My expectation is every device should have this app whether you are contracted with Coronavirus or not. This platform is not only for help. You can also share your experience if you have been through the disease. Sharing information about how to deal with problems mentally and physically, could also help people.
You should also download the app not just for you, but sometimes for relatives and friends. You can post on their behalf if they are going through some difficulty. It is a very useful tool for today. Even the government should use it, because everyone including, police, government, and NGOs is working in their particular localities. CloseAPP will enable them forward help to other areas also. Though, it is not an interesting platform like Roposo or Tiktok. And you can see everyone is sharing their problems, and getting responses. But the platform saves a life.
Q) What kind of user have you witnessed so far?
It is still very early days. I am seeing fewer people putting or questioning for themselves. Most volunteers are using the platform. They are mostly asking for help on someone else’s behalf and receiving help from some other group of volunteers. But, soon I expect this to move to people at large. People will soon start to post for themselves. Then you will see the real power of the people.
Right now, it’s the youth who are volunteers, both men and women are present on the platform. In terms of location, people from across Indian are using it.
Q) How are you educating the people about CloseAPP?
We are highly dependent on the word of mouth. I don’t have the resources to reach out to people. There are a lot of private organizations coming forward and offered me to share the app through their media. Very soon, I will be able to disclose their name as things get finalized. At present, you can see people already discussing and talking about CloseApp on Instagram and Twitter.
Q) Are you hoping for any revenue generation?
We are not looking for revenue for now. It’s my kind of social work for the people. Of course, we need some funds to sustain later on. Currently, I am funding it with my savings. Maybe after Covid, there would be other issues or areas where people might want to connect with each other in a locality. But it’s a matter of later. We’ll see step by step. Currently, we are focusing completely on Covid.
Q) Now what next after CloseAPP? What are your future plans?
We will launch more popular languages in a few weeks into the platform. It will help the app to grow as people could then easily understand their local language. We are also planning to bring the app to iPhone. At present, it is not there as we thought that most of the masses are on the Android platform. So to begin our reach over most people, we started off with our presence on Android phones.