Halla.in is a platform to showcase individual’s hidden talent by participating in the photo and video contests. Startup Simba spoke to Halla.in Founder Dr. TP Pavan Kumar to find out what is the platform all about and how is it bringing out the best in talented youths in the country.
1. Tell us about Halla.in and what it does?
There is so much of talent in every one of us and very rarely one tries to explore it. Most of the time, we are constrained by our convictions, shyness, society, or fear of failure. We created Halla.in, for individuals of every age to freely come and express their feelings and emotions. The contests at Halla.in focuses on festivals, seasons or social themes that users can easily relate to their daily life.
We have recently introduced mystory.halla.in, to share personal accomplishments and experiences to inspire and motivate others. Though started recently, we have good contribution of inspirational stories that are motivating and build confidence in individuals.
2. Tell us about the team/founders behind Halla.in? What is their background and experience?
Halla.in is founded by Dr. TP Pavan Kumar, with intent to create a platform for everyone to explore and share their talent. Pavan has over 25 yrs of professional experience in various domains, including startups. He is an active angel investor with funding in NewsBytesApp, Ilenze.com, Greenz.co, PindropMusic.co etc..
We are a team of 2 members and 3 interns. Pavan as founder provides the overall direction to chase the vision, while Vikas Sawant looks after the marketing, social network and sponsor relations. Rest of the work is outsourced to Achiveee, a Mumbai based startup that looks after website, content and IT. Pramit, Ashi and Pallav, keep mystory.halla.in alive through their inspirational content.
3. In which year Halla.in was launched? What is the current team size?
We launched Halla.in in April, 2013. As a community, we have grown over the past three years. When we launched Halla.in, we had to constantly request our family, friends and neighbors to post their photos and participate in contests. We encouraged users to review the contest photo entries, write comments to join the conversation and appreciate the hidden talent. Today, the community has over 12,000 registered users and over 18,000 followers on Instagram. We are quite active on Facebook and Twitter as well. As mentioned earlier, we are a team of five and growing fast on quarterly basis.
4. Halla.in conducts photography and video contest. What is the selection process?
The entries in the contest are voted by fellow users, website visitors, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram followers, etc. To avoid unfair practices, the users can see only their votes and not of other participants. Users can publicize their entries on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to get votes and comments.
The contest winners get their own work printed on t-shirts or mugs. These gifts remain sweet memories and special moments reflecting their efforts and willingness to take the plunge. For the sponsored contests, the sponsor will decide on the winner selection and prizes.
5. How has been the journey so far? How tough has been the competition?
The journey so far has been quite challenging. When we launched the idea, there were very few takers. We spent considerable time in explain the concept and purpose of Halla.in. Very few entries we got for the initial contests. In the beginning, we were rewarding every participant to spread the idea. After 6 months of consistent effort, the idea started sinking and we gained users on all channels. There are few portals in this space and the competition is not significant. Signing up users and encouraging them to return to the light hearted platform to keep discovering their talent, remains our biggest challenge even today. Introduction of android mobile app also helped us to signup users and get creative content through mobile photo captures. We have over 4000 android mobile downloads and would soon be introducing IOS app.
6. What kind of help do you receive from corporates?
Initially when we spoke to businesses to sponsor contests, they were quite reluctant due to low customer base. Despite this challenge we got few organizations to sponsor the contests. Today, we are being approached by companies, but we are quite selective to limit the sponsorship that helps the platform to grow, rather than getting commercialized.
7. What is your plan or strategy to sustain in the long run?
Our strategy is to be the preferred platform to showcase individual’s talent. A platform where individuals can freely express, also get inspired and motivated by the achievements of others. Looking at the growing mobile base, we would soon be introducing location based contests. We are also actively working towards enhancing our platform for users to commercialize their creative work. We will partner with companies that appreciate, encourage and reward individual accomplishments.
8. Did you receive any awards or recognition? What has been your greatest achievement?
Though we did not get any formal awards or recognitions, the positive feedback and compliments we receive every day from our users, keeps us going. We get numerous comments on our Facebook page and by emails, complimenting the work and the difference Halla.in is making in their lives, specially to discover their talent and showcase them.
9. Where do you want to see Halla.in 2 years from now?
In next 2 years, we want to see Halla.in as a lighthearted platform of choice for both individuals and businesses to express, inspire and reward talent. We would see whole lot of sponsored contests with themes connected to our daily life, running on the portal. Customers through various channels like web, mobile and social network participate, appreciate and motivate each other. Halla.in will be a compelling brand for individuals to show case and commercialize their talent as well.
10. What else you do to support startups and entrepreneurs apart from Halla.in?
In addition to Halla.in, we have the Pegtweets.com, a mobile twitter app to understand the social significance of whom you are following and to follow the trending feed. We recognized that holiday planning is a challenge and are working on a mobile app called Snaplee to help users make informed travel choices.
I am an active angel investor for the past few years. NewsbytesApp, iLenze.com, PindropMusic.co, Greenz.co, Menias.com, Bookmywash.co etc., are some of the angel investments. I support most of these founders in business strategy, marketing plan, product design etc.. I am quite fortunate to have associated with these highly talented founders who quite passionate and committed to achieve their vision.
11. What do you have to say about Startup Simba as a digital platform to promote startups and entrepreneurship in India?
Indian startup ecosystem is exploding and it needs platforms like Startup Simba to help startups gain visibility and recognition. With over 40 percent of population being youth, the younger generation should become job creators rather than job seekers. The best way to bridge the economic and digital divide in India is by creating startups across cities and towns of India. Inclusive growth can be achieved by reaching out to masses through portals like Startup Simba to create awareness about the opportunity, visibility and becoming a platform to promote products and services.