There’s no denying that social media has bought the world together, where communication and information sharing is simple and straightforward. But when you look at the prominent social media applications and sites, connecting with your society in ways where digitizing society events and other things isn’t possible. Though it is, but getting a hands-on approach towards making is customizable for your particular society can’t be availed through these popular social media site; instead IamHere bridges that gap.
IamHere is a social media application targeted towards communities where the posting of local commerce, local businesses, knowing the area in and around you is quite the possibility and agenda. Moreover, the application helps in knowing your society better and even understand the different events that might be coming up, connecting with like-minded people, and much more. Bangalore Insider conducted a short interview with Naren Kumar, he is the co-founder and CEO of the company, and the excerpts are given as follows.
Give a brief info about your start-up?
IamHere is a hyperlocal community platform for social collaboration, local commerce and citizen engagement. We are digitizing neighbourhoods and communities for hobby, business and social causes through a location-first social network.
What made you start your start-up and what problem does it solve?
While technology today does a good job in connecting people across the globe, it falls short of connecting us in our neighbourhoods and communities. Ironically, that is where we spend a good majority of our lives. Discovering like-minded people nearby for hobbies, knowing about business promotions in the neighbourhood, knowing about events or joining social campaigns in our communities are all challenges today. IamHere provides a geospatial community model for people to connect nearby.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this start-up?
Post my engineering from BITS Pilani, I spent a good amount of time at Cisco, both in India and in the US. Exposure to the business functions in the US got me excited about an MBA, and so I went to ISB. After that I led the strategy and business development for a new business at Schneider Electric, where I got an opportunity to build a business from scratch. Then I joined an AI/IoT startup, Intellve as part of the founding team. Intellve is into command and control software for smart cities and smart enterprises. I started up IamHere because I saw a huge problem to solve through technology, using technology to create social impact always excited me.
Where is your start-up based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
We are based out of Bengaluru. While the other Indian cities are certainly catching up, the resource ecosystem is still well ahead in Bengaluru when it comes to technology startups.
As a start-up founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
There is always the fear of big guys entering the market, before you can become sufficiently big enough to take them on. But that’s part and parcel of starting up.
Who are your competitors and how are you better than them?
We do not have a head-to-head competition in India. But there are a few players in other regions. For example, Nextdoor in the US and Nebenan in Europe. IamHere is the only platform that offers public and private networks together on the same platform, along with map-based discovery of people by interests. What it means is that, on IamHere you can connect with someone next door in your apartment, or with someone next street in your neighbourhood. You can even use IamHere as a private social network within your office or college community.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a start-up founder and how do you manage it?
I think till you reach Series A / B funding, work-life balance will have to be compromised. But then if you manage your time well and have co-founders and even a small team to support you, you can definitely find time for your personal life. You better find that time, because starting up is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you start compromising one over the other for too long, it can show up after a while, everything in life has a timeout.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
We have raised some funding from Angels so far. We are closing a small bridge round shortly that will take us to 1 million users and $100K revenues in the next six months.. We will be looking for institutional investment later this year.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
People may find me a little too gentle. While that is certainly not a bad perception to give, I am ruthless when it comes to progress. It could be self-progress or the organization’s progress. But when I don’t see that progress everyday, I wouldn’t mind turning on the heat slowly.
What gets you excited about this company?
Social commerce in India is becoming a $20 billion market by 2025 and $70 billion by 2030. It’s already crossed $1 billion currently. Most small businesses and marketplace communities which are part of this social commerce structure don’t want to build an app or website for themselves, and rightly so too. The fact that IamHere has been able to and will continue to provide “marketplace as a service” to these businesses excites me. It’s both a massive and an impactful opportunity.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
20% of my time goes in working with the team on the right product design, 20% goes into making sure the technology progress matches the product roadmap, 40% goes into business development and marketing, and I keep the remaining 20% for strategic planning.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Pooja heads our Products and she is ex-Citigroup, Arpita heads our Technology and she is ex-Samsung. Both have co-founded consumer startups before this. While they are co-founders now at IamHere, I have known them as friends for many years. Ronak who leads our backend has co-founded two startups before this and is Ex-TCS, Anil who leads our frontend is Ex-Harman, and Vivek who leads our digital marketing is Ex-Voonik. We also have Deepa and Pratik as part of our extended founding team, and they have been with us since our inception and have been instrumental in getting IamHere to where it is right now.
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