A billion faces and a million tongues – there’s no better way to describe a country as culturally and linguistically diverse as India. According to the latest census, there are 22 major languages written in 13 different scripts and over 19, 500 dialects.
The recent and comprehensive ‘Year in Search’ report by Google India shed light on the way Indians consume content. With close to 450 million internet users, the report projects that number to go up to 650 million by 2020.
Taking advantage of affordable smartphones and low-cost data plans, India’s digital growth story has shifted from the metros to Tier I and Tier II cities.
Another April 2017 report by KPMG and Google showed two key findings:
Suffice to say these vast numbers clearly indicate a potential for vernacular content in India’s digital market and the overall growth of regional content online. Considering how these numbers can drive and impact digital use and revenue, there are now several startups that have chosen to focus on indigenous content to enable and accommodate India’s next billion Internet users.
Here’s a quick rundown of the top twelve vernacular startups in India:
Founded in 2009, DailyHunt is one of India’s leading news and local language content platforms. The brainchild of former Nokia employees, Chandrashekar Sohoni and Umesh Kulkarni, DailyHunt is headquartered in Bengaluru and offers its users over 100,000 news articles in 14 vernacular languages licensed form 800 publication partners daily. Daily hunt also lets you advertise on their platform, making it convenient for marketers to target the right audience.
22 Languages is a platform that helps brands create content in 22 official Indian languages. With this, you can create ads, website ads, Apps and blogs in local languages. With a large network of native writers, this platform is perfect for brands that are looking to tap the next billion users with their multilingual marketing strategies.
In an attempt to leverage and drive the number of vernacular content users, ShareChat proposes to be India’s answer to Facebook, Twitter and similar social networking platforms. Headquartered in Bengaluru, ShareChat was founded in 2015 by IIT-Kanpur alumni Bhanu Singh Pratap, Farid Ahsan and Ankush Sachdeva. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, ShareChat enables users to post and share videos, songs, images and other content, as well as discover content that is topical and trending. Users can interact with content in several Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu, etc.
Roposo is a social media sharing platform that lets its users create images, video and other shareable content using editing tools. Based out of Gurugram, Roposo was founded in 2012 by IIT Delhi alumni Avinash Saxena, Mayank Bhangadia and Kaushal Shubhank. The app is currently available in 8 languages namely Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada Gujarati, Punjabi and Bengali, for users to explore and expresses themselves in. Roposo further plans to introduce languages like Odiya and Assamese among others and state that users can share content on their app without the risk of their message being lost in translation.
Similar to Roposo, Clip App is a digital media video sharing startup that lets users watch, create, edit and share funny videos and images in the local and regional languages. With over 97% of videos in India being consumed in non-English languages, this platform can be used to find and edit videos for a brand’s social media. The content created can then be shared on various platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. The Bengaluru-based startup was founded in March 2017 by Ashish Gupta, Nav Agarwala and Swapnil Upadhyay. Clip App is available for download on the Google Play Store.
Founded in 2017 by Mayank Bidawatka and Aprameya Radhakrishna, Vokal is a P2P knowledge-sharing platform that enables its users to ask queries and receive responses in the local language of their choice in the form of audio. The founders wanted to provide Indians accessing the internet in their vernacular, the chance to assimilate quality indigenous content.
Based out of New Delhi, BetterButter is a recipe-discovery platform that allows its users to discover and share local, regional and international recipes in their indigenous languages. Founded in 2015 by Sukhmani Bedi and Niyaz Laiq, BetterButter has a repository of over 50,000 recipes and videos. The site currently offers its recipes in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and English and is gearing up to add Gujarati, Telugu and Bengali in the first quarter of 2018-19.
BetterButter’s Hindi service was launched in March 2017 and has seen more than two lakh hits, while Tamil reached over 25,000. Marathi, started in December 2017, saw over 5,000.
It is safe to say that Chatbots are the next big digital marketing wave and a personal way of connecting with your customers. Using this strategy for your website can increase leads and help you understand your customers better. But what if your customers prefer vernacular content? That is where Vernacular.ai comes in.
It provides its clients with multi-lingual chatbots to help their users interact in their preferred local language. The AI-enabled startup utilises National Language Processing to create its products. Headquartered in Bengaluru and founded in 2016 by Sourabh Gupta, Akshay Deshraja and Manoj Sarda, Vernacular.ai’s chatbots enable businesses to provide their users with a seamless customer experience enhanced by Artificial Intelligence and multi-lingual support.
Samosa Labs is a chat entertainment app based out of Hyderabad and provides its users with a platform to create audio files and GIFs that can be shared across Facebook and WhatsApp and other social media platforms. In order to penetrate the regional language market, Samosa Labs gives its users the ability to create content in several Indian languages. It was founded in 2015 by Rahul Reddy Koora, Abhilash Inumella and Abhimanyu Pamulapati.
Bengaluru-based local news startup, Lokal is the newest one to join the pack. Founded in July 2018 by Vishal Chaudhary and Jani Pasha, Lokal provides users with a platform to read local news based on their location and choice of local language. The news is delivered through a curated network of local journalists in a given area and freelancers. You can download the Lokal app from Google Play Store.
NewsDog is a news aggregator founded in 2016. It aims to provide Indian users with content in 10 different Indian languages. Based out of Beijing, the startup was founded by Maggie Ma and Forrest Chen and currently serves 50 million users.
With Voice being one of the newest marketing segments poised for exponential growth in the near future, a number of companies are looking to ride that wave. Bootstrapped firm Agrahyah Technologies is one of them. Founded in Mumbai in October 2016, Agrahyah Technologies is the brain-child of Sreeraman Thiagarajan, Uppal Shah and Rushabh Vasa. The software company is a solutions provider for voice-first platforms like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etc. Their suite of Indian language digital content, mobile apps and voice products aims to help the average Indian access the internet by removing the barrier of English.
Regional languages have the power like no other to truly connect with your target audience. For example, our YouTube channel Arrear Irundalum Career helps budding entrepreneurs to make it big in life with useful insights shared in Tamil. Check out one of our best-performing videos below. Be sure to also visit our Arrear Irundalum Career website for further career guidance tips in Tamil.
India is a multilingual nation in the true sense of the word, and now startups and established companies alike are looking to tap into the power of vernacular interface and content. We at Social Beat, too, have witnessed first-hand the power of vernacular content by coming up with a ground-breaking social media campaign in regional content for our client Cholamandalam Finance.