During the 2013 general election, Sameer Agarwal started getting trolled and even faced a few death threats for sharing his opinions on many issues on social networks. Initially, he thought it was because of the prevailing political atmosphere but soon realised that society in general had become quite intolerant, with people subconsciously judging and labeling individuals based on their lifestyle choices and opinions.
These thoughts seeded the idea of creating a safe space where people could be themselves. Realising the vacuum in this space, Agarwal and his friend Pooja Daswani co-founded Voizd, an audio based anonymous social networking app for India’s social media savvy citizens. The mobile app allows people to create 30-second audio messages wall on any topic.
According to Agarwal, it is the only social space at the intersection of audio and anonymity, giving its users power to share their most intimate thoughts and opinions without the barrier of language and education, as everyone can speak and listen. “Text is limiting, and video is too bandwidth hungry and risky for countries like
India,” says Agarwal.
While the app was on the drawing board, the Voizd team realised that social spaces are owned by the English-speaking literate audience and people who are not very comfortable with written forms are at a disadvantage. “Hence, the team decided that voice based expressions should be the mainstay of the app,” he says.
Voizd has a team of curators to monitor the audio space. Additionally, users can change their voices with voice filters to maintain anonymity. The start-up aims to become the de facto safe social space for people to discuss controversial issues without being judged, labeled or trolled.
The start-up is looking forward to on-board around 5 million users in the next 24 months, and 15 million users in the next three years. Launched in September 2016 in beta version, the app was exposed to only 100 people initially. “Since then, it has organically grown to 2500 users, doing over 7000 voice posts and over 100,000 public conversations on topics such as relationships, gender issues, fashion and abuse, amongst others,” says the co-founder, adding that about 70% of Voizd’s users are women. The bootstrapped firm is looking to raise seed funding which it hopes to close by June 2017.