Alum Ventures: Bharat Caller -Prajjwal Sinha, MPEFB 2018
Entrepreneurs like Prajjwal Sinha represent a new age of businessmen who are driven by a strong sense of patriotism and global outlook. All his projects were born out of a need and void created by commercial giants. His company is the recipient of the National Startup Awards 2020 by Govt. of India in the access to open education category. Prajjwal and his team have recently launched Bharat Caller, a Caller ID app that is completely Indian and available for both Android and iOS platforms.
In this interview, we spoke to Prajjwal about his latest project – Bharat Caller and his entrepreneurial journey.
Please tell us something about yourself.
My name is Prajjwal Sinha and I hail from Patna, Bihar. I did my engineering in Computer Science from JSSATE, Bangalore in 2010 and then joined TCS for about 5 months and then left it to join McAfee where I got introduced to Cyber Security. I then left it in 2014 to study new technologies at that time and started my first company in 2016. I joined MPEFB Course at IIM Bangalore in 2017. In 2018 I started another Edtech startup with is profitable now and has 9 employees.
Could you please tell us about your latest app – BharatCaller.
In 2020, the Indian Army banned the most popular Caller ID App in the world by declaring it spyware. The same app was also reprimanded for illegally registering Indian users for its new UPI service. We also came to know that the same app has over 70% of its user base in India. These things caught our eye and In Jan 2021, when we got serious about this idea and we decided to create our very own Caller ID App. We researched for quite some time and then started working on the product in June 2021 and released it on 15th August 2021. Since then the app has been downloaded over 1.8 lakh times in just 18 days.
What kind of research went into developing this app and how is different than similar apps in the space?
We started with figuring out the basic working mechanism of a caller id app i.e. how to identify spam, how to determine the correct name of a user, and most importantly, how to ensure that the privacy of the users remains intact. We also researched on building a scalable app that could handle over 1 lakh requests every minute as this is crucial for a caller id app to work.
The main difference between BharatCaller and any other Caller ID app is our emphasis on data privacy and national security. We saw that other apps were uploading user’s phonebook to their server, keeping track of their call logs, and had full access to user’s SMS. This poses a lot of risks to us. Hence, we decided that we will only query a user’s phonebook if we are not able to identify the name of a caller. We also decided not to ask for SMS access, thus ensuring that OTP and Bank related messages remain safe. We are also the only Indian app in the Caller ID space that can match the quality of our international competitors.
You have been involved in various other exciting projects, can you please tell us about it.
I have always believed that education is the most important sector that will change India’s future, hence we have been building apps in the EdTech space. We have a Learning Management System that helps large coaching institutes, colleges and schools conduct live classes and manage assignments and online tests. We also have GovJobAdda which helps poor students prepare for govt exams through extremely low-cost mock tests. It has over 6 lakh users and we were awarded the National Startup Awards 2020 by Govt. of India in the access to open education category. We also developed, Amigoz, which is a Social Network for College Students and helps them prepare for placement through free mock tests, off-campus job listings, and daily live quizzes. Last year, when CamScanner was banned, we also developed BharatScanner in just 6 days to help students submit assignments and it went on to garner over 1 million downloads in just 10 months.
What keeps you motivated?
I am an artist with a keen interest in sketching. The kick of creating something and see it being used by people keeps me motivated. While it seems interesting, managing multiple projects is extremely difficult and can lead to failures. I have understood it now and I believe that it is much better to focus on just one or 2 projects and give them your everything if you want to be really successful.
What is your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
1. Spend a lot of time planning your product.
2. Do not believe in the glorified startup stories, raising funds isn’t as easy as it seems, So make sure that you have a crystal clear understanding of monetizing your product and making it profitable.
3. Make good friends, they are your biggest asset. If you do not have good connections, there is no way that you would be able to build a good team.
Role of IIMB in your journey.
During my classes at IIMB, Prof. K Kumar and Prof. Srivardhini K Jha, Prof. S Bhagvatulla emphasized a lot on building processes inside your company and having a clear vision for your company. I think that these mantras changed the way I operated earlier and helped me build a much better startup. The alumni support of IIMB is impeccable and my seniors and batchmates have helped me at every stage. The alumni network also provides us a lot of inspiration and motivation, in fact, Souvik who was my classmate is one of the founders of “Infra market” that recently became a unicorn.
A favorite quote.
“You can not have a million-dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic”.