Just five months after launch, the short video platform Friends Made headlines for several reasons. While the app surpassed five million downloads on the Google Play Store less than a month after launch, it sparked controversy when Google called the app “Play Store” for violating the “Spam and Minimum Functionality Policy” Removed from. However, within a short time the app was backed up and restarted.
For friends co-founder and CTO Anish Khandelwal, he has always been interested in making something. He says, he has always believed in one thing – building a working prototype, which gives you visual proof of how the product will work in the real world.
From working on enterprise software at Oracle to understanding the importance of B2C technology and joining MakeMyTrip, Anish says he felt working at a B2C company gives you insight into building for the consumer. 30-year-old Takei also believes that passion makes B2C technology fun and exciting.
Anish launched Friends with Shivank Aggarwal in April 2020 to distribute short video content in real time. While the home ground platform already has more than 33 million downloads on the Play Store, Anish says, a lot of lessons were learned in the process.
BK takes a look at Anish’s journey in the tech world, and the five-month journey of friends and the team he’s on is going to be interesting for a long time.
Coding and Computers
Originating from a small town in Jharkhand, Anish went to school in Chakulia in Jharkhand and later Assam, and completed his classes 11 and 12 in Kolkata. However, it was in Kolkata that Anish was first exposed to the computer world in 2005.
“I found coding to be a different way of expressing and solving problems. This made me excited. Visual tools, code and everything about it excited me. I decided to do coding and work with computers for the rest of my life. “
In 2007, after completing AIEEE, Anish tried to apply for IIT. But he says he was weak in chemistry, which did not help the ranking. And after the first attempt, he gave up his IIT dreams. Since he was always interested in computer science, he decided to join VNIT, Nagpur.
“My first programming class at VNIT with Professor Moghe got me hooked on the subject. We had a unique way of making sure that we worked on code and algorithms. He taught us how to write and solve code, and even the most difficult problems required us to apply our minds first. This increased interest in the subject.”
In 2007, at a time when the world was not yet powered by apps, Anish started freelancing to gain more experience.
“We also created the first alumni network for our college. For me, interest was always in the database. I always tried to figure out which OS the DBMS is related to that we were building and how it applies in a system in a practical way. All the theories you have read and learned about computer systems and architecture, you really see it happening. ”
Understanding the enterprise world
This was when Anish decided to join Oracle, as the company was mostly working on DBS. Anish was primarily working on Big Data Integration in ETL processes in Oracle.
While Anish worked at Oracle between 2011 and 2016, he was working together with a friend in the hospitality industry. They wanted to start a startup in the region and were experimenting with different products, but were not sure about the market segmentation.
“Then I realized that I wanted to join a B2C company. In 2016, I joined MakeMyTrip and met Shivank.”
Anish says as part of his last project at Oracle, the use case was for MakeMyTrip, and it served as a segment to join MakeMyTrip. While working for Big Data Technics, Anish also did several freelance projects for other companies creating Peaches and various products. This, he says, gained him knowledge of various backend technologies.
Execute the idea
According to Anish, he has always been interested in coding and development.
“Shivank always comes up with the best ideas and sees and finds gaps, and I like to understand how the gap can be bridged with technology. It’s good to solve a coding problem, and that’s exciting for me. Breaking the problem down into smaller parts, and fixing them and seeing how it works is what makes the whole process exciting for me. ”
He has always believed in one thing – says Anish – building a working prototype. “For Hackathon too, it was always about building working demos. It gives you visual proof of how it works in the real world. And that’s the beauty of tech and coding. Smart use of tech can be quite powerful, ”he explains.
Talking about his time at MakeMyTrip, Anish says that working in a B2C company gives you insights to build for the consumer. While B2B companies give you the support and foundation you need to build strong technology, B2C companies provide insights into the consumer psyche.
“You are also a consumer, and you realize that if you are not satisfied with the product yourself, you cannot expect to be satisfied with others. This makes the consumer space interesting. Anish says, “Everything you manufacture requires recognition and therefore you always talk to people, and if you are able to satisfy the questions, then it is a recognition that your product will work.”
Anish explains that in an enterprise solution you become part of a larger system. On the B2C side, the impact on the consumer is usually very direct.
“But I think my enterprise space and big data experience gives me a holistic experience. At MakeMyTrip, we were building platforms that were not specific to a particular flight or experience, but could work for different LPs and tasks. We can see more and more quantities and different types of customizations.”
Anish says “I have re-created the Gamification platform, and have also worked on several growth projects.”
Anish MakeMyTrip – Knock Also created the first live travel game show, which was launched during the 2019 IPL.
“It was a live anchor and it bid on travel packages in real-time. Several lakh people had bid for its package, and it had other games like “fastest finger first”. Anish explains that it was a different ballgame as you had to connect with multiple tools and broadcast it in real-time without any mess.
This gave Anish a deep insight into content, distributed systems and broadcasting. He also worked on creating Trip Ideas – a UGC platform for MakeMyTrip. During this tenure, Shivank and Anish kept working on different views.
Short video world
“Shivank came up with the idea, and we started working together to make it. We had to see if it works in real time. When Coronavirus lockdown began in March this year, we realized that there was a boom in apps like HouseParty. But there was no short video service platform that was meeting the needs.”
People really wanted to get closer and exchange and consume different types of content. “You tend to have less attention span on mobile, and you want videos of lower byte size,” he says.
He was also looking at a user base similar to WhatsApp, where people did not have laptops or tablets but had a smartphone – especially those from Tier II and Tier III cities.
“You need to develop for low bandwidth with the ability to have different types of content. Assuming that they would be fine with a particular type of content and only one particular type of interaction would be wrong, ”says Anish.
Anish made friends with Sivank Aggarwal in April 2020. The home ground platform already has more than 33 million downloads on the Google Play Store and claims to have over nine billion video views per month.
Start of friends
The two purchased a template for friends on the Australian online marketplace Envato. They then edited the Sorce Code to meet their security and scalability needs. Talking about the controversy of the fact that Friends is not really an Indian app, says Anish, all the data of friends is stored on Indian servers.
He adds, “We are also consulting with the top security experts in the industry to ensure that all our user-facing interfaces are secure.”
Anish explains that content moderation is the biggest challenge of building any UGC platform. There are many posts and always require strong moderation like the content. And it was also one of the team’s initial challenge.
“We learned that democratizing a platform is a good thing, content cannot harm the feelings of a nation. We were able to quickly take measures and bring that kind of content.”
The startup recently raised $ 5 million under the leadership of Nexus Venture Partners. The round saw participation from private investors of 3one4 Capital and Arun Tadanki on LetsVenture.
Today, employing Techies, Anish says, he looks at all the necessary technical skills, and also see what they have created.
“It can be big or small, but building something shows passion and drive to code and do something of your own. Passion is what makes B2C technology fun and exciting, it is one that helps you pull on long hours to work on data, and build a robust platform. I look for that and their attitude. In techies ‘know-it-all’ Attitude may not occur. Every Techie should be open to learning new things. “