Hoppr, a location-based service developed by Gurgaon-based Y2CF Digital Media Pvt Ltd in partnership with Bharti SoftBank, claims to have crossed 85 million check-ins and 4 million registered monthly users in about 10 months of operation.
Launched in May 2012, Hoppr claims to be the only device-agnostic and location-based check-in service that enables users to explore rewards and offers available with brands and merchants in their vicinity.
The company says it has been targeting feature phones since the launch of Hoppr and an Android app has been launched in beta only a few weeks ago. The app will go off-beta in a few weeks' time and an iOS app will soon roll out.
What Hoppr does & how
On a feature phone, it works with a toll-free short code 56660. In order to register, you only need to send an SMS to this short code. After that, you can ping 56660 with a text message to check in and receive special offers (if any) from various outlets and service providers. The service is available on SMS as well as USSD. For instance, we registered and then sent an SMS saying 'specials' to the short code, post which a reply came with a query for the location. Once the location is fed, it sends the special offers in that area via SMS.
While location-based apps have been around for some time now, all of them work on smartphones where location is tracked via the internet. So how does this app manage to do the same on feature phones without net connection?
Md. Imthiaz, founder and CEO of Y2CF, shared with Techcircle.in that the technology used helps track the location of a person when he/she sends the SMS. "We have tie-ups with all network operators and our technology sits on the top of the network. As soon as an SMS is received on our short code, we get its latitude through our technology," he explained.
Growth & competition
Y2CF was set up in 2010 by Imthiaz, former VAS head of Bharti Airtel. In May 2012, the company announced its partnership with Bharti SoftBank (BSB) â€“ a JV between Bharti Enterprises and Japan's SoftBank Corp. BSB owns 49 per cent stake in Y2CF and Hoppr was its first product launch in India.
According to the company, Hoppr now has 10,000-plus merchants on board and it plans to take this number to 1,00,000 this year. As of now, its business model includes commissions on some of the premium coupons bought by the users. But interestingly, it is not yet charging the merchants and only earning revenues from end users.
Queried about it, Imthiaz said, "As we go forward, we have many routes to monetisation and one of them will definitely be the merchants. But currently, we are not looking at it. For now, we are not focusing on revenues."
However, by venturing into the smartphone space, Hoppr will lock horns with the likes of Foursquare and some fledgling Indian apps like NowFloats, DelightCircle and LocalEver.
(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)