Meet the Zumblrs!
Zumbl is an online chat system created by a group of IIT Delhi students. It claims to be different from other chat portals that are characterised by profane and obscene chats. It aims to redefine the nature of chats and to make them more meaningful. It matches users with strangers who share common interests. The users can converse with strangers anonymously and tag each other on the basis of their conversations. It makes use of various avatars which reflect the users’ personalities. With newly created groups namely Entrepreneurs, Psychology, LGBT, Travel, Music lovers, Travel etc Zumbl has been seen evolving quickly over time. The new feature ‘Raise a Topic’ lets the users to chat with people with common interests. After all, this group of young entrepreneurs wants us to “Chat Happy!”
Let us meet the founders of the www.zumbl.com
(Abhishek Gupta) (Saurabh Kumar)
Abhishek Gupta: Abhishek is a final semester student, Computer Science, IIT Delhi specializing in Web Search and Machine Learning with a particular focus on Natural Language Processing. He previously worked in Microsoft Research Bangalore, and is past winner of Yahoo Hack U, Northern region, India. He also worked on a cloud orchestrator named ‘Baadal’ which got him a publication in his third year of Undergraduate Engineering.
Saurabh Kumar: Saurabh is a final semester student at IIT Delhi. He is pursuing a four-year degree program in Computer Science and Engineering. He loves programming and has experience of working in diverse computer science subjects ranging from Systems to Computer Vision and Machine Learning.
1. How was the idea of Zumbl born?
The idea of Zumbl was incepted in late November 2011, in IIT Delhi when I, (Abhishek), thought of using my technical background in machine language and natural language processing to let strangers interact, engage and converse with one another without revealing their identities. Soon after this, the search for co-founders began and it ended with meeting Saurabh. An obsession with ‘Z’ and love for magical ‘al’ sound gave Zumbl its name.
2. Did you always want to be an Entrepreneur or was it circumstantial?
Always! I started working on an idea similar to Zumbl in my first year. But I realised that I needed to be more mature to pursue this idea, so I worked for almost a year in another start-up ‘thewittyshit.com’ which also operates in social networking space. After gaining sufficient experience, we formed our founding team and started working on this. Though, it was circumstantial that we are now working on Zumbl rather than any other idea.”
3. How long did you spend developing before launching?
Almost 5 months. Our first iteration was launched on July 14, 2013. We started working in December 2013. We were students at that point of time (the one who used to study too!), so ideally we spent almost 2-3 months.
4. What gap in the market did you discover that persuaded you to launch your start-up?
The lack of any portal to let users engage in meaningful conversations motivated us to come up with the idea of Zumbl. There are 100s or even 1000s of portals that let you chat; but to chat meaningfully – you have none. They are full of profanity and abusive behaviour. We set out to change that and let users find users of their choice and chat happy.
5. Has your start-up had the feedback and growth you expected since launching?
No. It wasn’t possible either. Our first product was quite raw. We kept on iterating and we still do. And with almost every iteration we get some new followers; and lots of interesting feedback.
Our growth has been phenomenal and we continue to add at least 1000 users every day. This is higher than what we projected for ourselves; so for growth we are doing better than we expected ourselves to. Our yardsticks and goals for future are highly ambitious, with projections of about 1 million users by the end of June 2014. (I hope that comes equally easy and umm, surprising as well :))
6. Where do you see your start-up in 5 Years’ time?
Used by a couple of hundred million users; who want to chat about things they like to; and with people they are interested in having conversations with. And we hope to raise the average IQ of a conversation that happens on Internet right now
7. What advice would you offer to any soon to be start-up founders out there?
Be clear, be focussed, and keep iterating. Team matters most; so build a strong team. Culture matters second; so engage in useful practices and talk to other founders and advisors there. Get someone smart on your advisory team. And finally; do things fast and ASAP.
Indraprastha College for Women