We got to speak to the NowFloats team, winners of the Microsoft Bizspark India Startup Challenge 2012. NowFloats is a location based mobile service which looks to provide relevant and contextual information to users based on their current location and time. The service allows users to add thoughts and pictures about a specific location, read other thoughts for that location and browse through events and deals happening around their current location. What’s worth noting though is that the content remains fresh to users since these thoughts auto-expires after seven days, unless it becomes popular due to user interactions like upvoting or commenting, in which case, it stays up till 14 days or a maximum of 100 days.
Speaking of businesses, NowFloats allows businesses to add information about their place through the mobile app or through SMS. Businesses can also send offers and updates to users around their location provided the user has subscribed to their updates.
This is what they had to say.
Q. How did the idea of NowFloats come in to existence?
The inspiration for NowFloats was something rather simple: Comics. We all know that data or information exists all around us. But why does it have to be represented in conventional and complex forms.
So in essence NowFloats’ technology translates the concept of characters in a comic strip communicating through floating message blurbs, to the real world. The aim is to bring the same level of simplicity, elegance and ease of information consumption.
Q. What does NowFloats exactly do and how does it help people?
NowFloats is a location-based app that helps people discover the buzz in their location through three main elements – other people’s thoughts, events and market offers from retailers. Moreover, people can also add to the buzz by creating ‘floats’ and tagging them to physical location around them, where they can be viewed by other users of the app. The biggest differentiation on our app is that we expire content as it stops trending and or is unpopular.
Q. Who are the members of the founding team? Please give a small background info about them.
NowFloats is co-founded by Jasminder Singh Gulati (CEO), Ronak Kumar Samantray (Chief Software Architect), Nitin Jain (COO) & Neeraj Sabharwal (CXO). Founders are ex-Microsoft and ex-Saatchi & Saatchi employees with vast expertise in sales, technology & design. You can find more details about our founders here –http://nowfloats.com/Home/Who (Also, see their LinkedIn profiles)
Q. Your product won the Microsoft BizSpark India Startup Challenge, 2012. How was your experience?
Winning the Microsoft BizSpark Challenge was wonderful for us. On one hand it recognized us for our business and technology innovation and on the other hand put the right pressure on us to execute even faster than what we were planning for!
Q. How important and beneficial are these competitions? How do you think young startups can benefit?
Participating in startup competitions is important as they help startups interact with a diverse set of industry stakeholders, such as mentors, potential partners and significantly, fellow entrepreneurs. These forums provide a great platform to get feedback and help in generating the much required buzz about your product. And sometimes, if you make the right impact it gets you talking to potential investors.
Q. What advice will you give student entrepreneurs in India with respect to the whole location based app business?
The LBS opportunity is pretty significant. Gartner’s Top 10 Mobile Applications for 2012 had LBS in the 2nd spot (behind only to Mobile Payments). And Juniper Research expects revenues from mobile location-based services to be more than $12.7 billion by 2014.
The key challenges in India are SmartPhone adoption (one needs a good GPS though NowFloats works without it) and then, mobile data plans. While there are only 25M SmartPhones in India (out of almost 900M total), they are growing at a rapid pace, while higher-end feature phones are getting smarter to support LBS applications. For e.g. the Asha family of mobiles from Nokia delivers pretty accurate location using cell triangulation.
Student entrepreneurs have a great advantage to build the next generation LBS applications. This ‘Gen Y & Z’ are highly comfortable using the latest technology and are perhaps, best suited to innovate for their generation.[divider]
Do give this app a spin and leave your comments below. The app is available for Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8. The iOS app is also coming soon. Check it out here.
We wish the NowFloats team loads of success. All the best!