If you have ever cooled your heels at a doctor’s clinic waiting for your turn, you already know how irritating it is to watch the clock tick by. A Pune-based start-up has found a solution to this vexing problem, with its mobile platform for queue management. Called Sminq, it allows users to send and receive updates about crowded places, products unavailable at a store, long waiting time at restaurants, government offices and popular monuments. It even allows users to hold their spot in a queue without having to be physically present there, thus allowing users to check the status of their service before actually stepping out.
“The idea cropped up when we (the co-founders) were contemplating different ideas for starting a new venture. During that time, my wife was pregnant and there were regular visits to the hospital. During our visits, we had to wait in long queues even after taking an appointment. The problem was similar when we went out for shopping—we were not sure whether the product would be in stock, what would be the parking situation or the rush at the store,” says Shachin Bharadwaj, co-founder & CEO, Sminq. “These problems gave rise to the thought that there is no real-time information of places around you, something that you can check before you step out to get live information.”
Bharadwaj, along with Santhosh Nagarajan and Sheldon Dsouza, all of whom had previously worked together in food-tech start-up TastyKhana.com, then started Sminq. While Bharadwaj is responsible for overall operations, branding and business growth of Sminq, Dsouza is the Chief Architect responsible for all the technical aspects and Nagarajan is the COO of the company. Sminq has till now raised a funding of $1 million in June 2016 from Saama Capital and Blume Ventures.
Sminq started with pilots at salons, spas, restaurants, banks, retail stores, clinics and service centres. “We tested these places for six months (from June 2015 to early 2016). In 2016 we decided to first get one type of business right and then scale to other verticals. Accordingly, we started with the doctor vertical. From 2016 to mid-2017, we focused on a solution to give users live information of waiting at clinics and helping them take a spot remotely. This continues to be operational in Pune, Mumbai and Nasik at 150-plus premium clinics and has a user base of over 500,000,” he says.
The success of the health app got Sminq to execute its original vision of live information of every place in the world. In April this year, it launched the global app Sminq—World Places, Live Now. “Sminq is a community driven platform where users post real time updates and those who are using the platform simultaneously get to know about what’s happening. Our platform is unique as all the updates are live and short lived. All the information expires within the next 24 hours leaving no scope for trolling and unnecessary data consumption,” explains Bharadwaj. Close to 1 million users have tried the Sminq doctor appointments app. The World Places, Live Now app has got 20000-plus users with more than 12,000 unique places across 128 cities having gone live on Sminq.
The way Sminq works is different from that of event listing sites. Event listing sites give information about the event, its date, time and venue. With Sminq, one can check what is happening in that event without even going there via feedback and and even 15-sec small videos. Also, Sminq sends real-time updates of small events, things that are happening in the neighbourhood, small cafes, and art galleries.
The start-up does not get any commission from the places which are listed on its platform. Bharadwaj says it is banking on advertising revenue from brands using Sminq to advertise their services. “Sminq app works globally and currently we have active users from Bengaluru, Pune and Singapore. Categories that are popular are nightlife, restaurants, public places and tourist locations,” he adds.