Bharatam aims to rival the big names in the virtual social networking industry by building from India, for Indians
By Srinath Srinivasan
With increasing data nationalism and a shift towards a seemingly sovereign cyberspace, more and more Indian businessmen and software developers are coming up with social networking platforms that aim to capitalise on the power of data generated by a billion Indians and their desire to stay connected with their community and the world. Bharatam, which takes the likes of Facebook head on, is a bootstrapped business and a social networking platform that has some features akin to a full-fledged big tech social platform right from its release. Coming with a ready to use marketplace, a messenger with end-to-end encryption, paid membership features and a lot of customisable profile features, the app aims to provide a localised experience, enabling discovery and engagement for people and businesses that are nearby.
“Social networking is a competitive space. We wanted to build Bharatam tailored for Indian users. We will be aggressively marketing the app in the coming months,” says Neeraj Bisht, founder and CEO, Bharatam. He plans to raise around a million dollars in the next couple of months, with an aim to expand growth and marketing teams and to strengthen the technical teams. “Our revenue channels include advertisement, marketplace and paid memberships and features. As of now, some of these are free and once we cross a few hundred thousand users, we will begin monetising them,” says Bisht.
Having owned a tech venture previously, Bisht aims to make the app completely localised after crossing a certain user base. “With that, all data and infrastructure will reside in India,” says Bisht. For this, the algorithms will use data collected from users. “We want to focus on helping users find the nearest services, people, products and to make them more connected with their circle of family and friends. We are creating algorithms with this in mind,” says Bisht. He expects this to be the key differentiator for Bharatam with a promise of safe and secure data localisation.
However, the journey is not without challenges. “Capital is a huge factor in this business. Established players have lots of capital. This will also decide who is going to stay when others run out of business,” says Bisht. “While creating and deploying an app seems comfortable at early stage, while scaling, it also becomes a challenging task. We need the right kind of data and teams to tackle that,” he adds.
Bisht comes with an experienced technical team to tackle the tech problems in house. “If you take countries like America, China and Russia, they have their own social giants. By 2025, there will be over 800 million internet users in India and they will need to connect with their community. Why can’t India have its own social platforms with such large user base? We want to be early in that journey,” says Bisht.