Founded in March 2020 by Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka, Koo is an Indian microblogging application that lets you communicate your thoughts and emotions through an all-inclusive medium where linguistic barriers never come in the way of the Indian population. Whatever it is that your heart feels, you get to articulate it.
Koo was in its developmental stage from November 2019 and was finally released in March 2020, right before the onset of the global pandemic. Koo was conceptualised with the idea that language should never be an impediment to sentiment, to reach out to each and every marginalised Indian and to let them voice out their ideas and opinions in the language that they feel safe in.
Koo enables its users to communicate and connect better, and know what’s happening in their language so that you never have to miss out on important updates.
With apps like Twitter in its league, why is there a demand for a platform like Koo? The answer is relatively simple— accessibility and the need for language as a comfortable medium of expression.
There are 1 billion hearts in India, but not everyone has the capacity to have heart-to-heart conversations without speaking the language closest to their hearts. With access to 9 regional languages, Koo serves as an outlet for all Indian hearts. The platform was established to lend a voice to everyone in India regardless of their tongue.
India is a country housing more than a billion people who are generally considered very opinionated. However, not every Indian has the ability to express themselves coherently in English. “Why should only the English-speaking audience get their voices on the internet? Let everybody have their say” says Aprameya, co-founder and CEO of Koo.
Today, it does support foreign languages like Portuguese, Korean, Turkish, Spanish, etc, increasing the total number of available languages to 21.
Aprameya Radhakrishna, CEO and co-founder of Koo, has a bachelor’s degree in Electrics and Communication from the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka. He then went on to pursue his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
Mayank Bidawatka, the co-founder, has an MBA from the Asian Institute of Management. Prior to making Koo, the duo had worked on an app called Vokal— a knowledge-sharing platform.
The co-founders wanted their brand identity to be something pleasant and sweet that could get a message across.
“When we started thinking about giving a voice to everybody in India irrespective of language, the first thought that came was an emotional animal that defines the whole sense of spreading a message.”
And the first object that came to their mind was a yellow bird. Why yellow? The mere sight of the colour yellow makes us feel a little tingle of joy and hence they used yellow to represent sheer happiness.
And finally, the word Koo comes from the charming sound that a bird makes.
“We started thinking about open expression platforms, and one of the best methods to enable that is microblogging”. That’s when they started observing what Indian platforms were accomplishing for microblogging in regional languages.
After getting a bit familiarised with the whole concept of Koo, you may have a question. How does Koo differentiate itself from Twitter?
“We studied Twitter and realised that there’s very little creation and content available in Indian languages”. This observation led to the conclusion that Twitter caters to a global audience using global languages.
In order to make such an influential microblogging platform accessible to all corners of India, Koo was launched. On Twitter, you have to pay in order to upload larger files. Whereas on Koo, it’s completely free.
When asked about the rivalry between Koo and Twitter, Aprameya said, “Everything that Twitter wants to charge for, we already have it and it’s much better.”
Typing in regional languages can be quite a headache. With Koo, it doesn’t have to be. In 2021, Koo launched a new text-to-speech feature where you just have to speak in your preferred language and words magically appear on the Koo. Then you just have to hit send for the Koo to reach billions.
Made an error? You can easily edit your Koo, which is one feature that Twitter lacks. Koo is the first social media platform to launch ‘Topics’ in 10 different Indian languages.
You also have the option to post a Koo in multiple languages in one go. Want a specific time to upload your Koo? You can now schedule it. You also have a fun option to upload 10 profile photos at once.
“We are very happy to announce new features to millions of users. Some of these are a first in the social space. We are the first ones to enable users to upload up to 10 profile pictures. We’ve made it extremely easy for power creators to save a draft now and schedule Koos for a future date and time. Saving a Koo functionality is not available in any other micro-blog. Users have taken really well to these features,” says Mayank Bidawatka.
Koo has more than 50 million users across 100 countries. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Koo in his program “Mann ki Baat” in August 2020, announcing it as the winner in the social networking category of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge.
The app has already opened itself up to other countries and is growing rapidly in Brazil, leveraging over a million downloads already. Koo plans to roll out many more languages, including regional and global ones, in the future.
“A product made in India will get deep into India and we’ll also take it abroad,” says Aprameya, the CEO of the Koo App.
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