Will Coastered's emotional pitch get it friends?

2 May, 2016

A new social platform promises to bring back the emotions into messaging. Called Coastered, it promises not only to trigger an emotional response from the friend whom you pinged, oops, coastered, it also gets the two of you to act on your emotions, in the real world.

A cross between a dating app and a social network, it is a platform to exchange emotions where users can convey their feelings to close friends without feeling awkward.

"The app triggers emotions through a specific medium with a personalised message and offers a platform to host the triggered emotion, sustain it and close it with an action in a one-on-one private space," says Shivananda Koteshwar, founder, Coastered Technologies Pvt. Ltd, who is giving the final touches to the app before its beta launch later this month.

How it works

You go to a restaurant and remember a close friend. You want to tell him/her that you would have enjoyed his/her company. Enter Coastered. The app helps you take a photo of a coaster or a drink or the food and send it to your friend. It's what happens after that message is sent that is different. The messages go to what is called 'Left Club' and 'Right Club' of the app. Left Club is akin to the 'To-Do List': the receiver needs to act on it, while Right Club is basically the memory box. So, if the message goes to the Left Club, your friend acknowledges it with a return message and the next time he is around that restaurant, Coastered will remind him that you had sent him a message from here. He now coasters you back.

That's four interactions triggered by one message.

"Coastered has got a complete emotion cycle embedded into the product. Instead of saying "miss you" the message will read "You are coastered", explains Koteshwar. "The essence is in seizing that very moment."

Koteshwar claims that while a similar interaction can happen on Facebook and WhatsApp, Coastered increases the stickiness of the product with the customer. "Coastered is all about user interface and user experience and the way we have bundled the whole thing," says Koteshwar, who is a director at Taiwanese semi-conductor maker MediaTek.

Monetisation plans

A free platform for users, Coastered plans to monetise the app by integrating e-wallet through partnerships. It is talking to a leading digital wallet company and a couple of food and beverage chains, and expects at least one or two of them to come on the platform soon. "Initially, we thought Coastered would be used by business executives who travel a lot. But we have realised that youngsters, especially college-goers would be more interested. Hence, we are also looking to connect a shopping app in the background from where one can buy gifts," says Koteshwar.

Coastered will use the contact list on the phone to make the product much lighter. It will also have geo tags which will point a user to places visited by his Coastered friends.

Getting the funds

Initially, Koteshwar had reached out to a high net-worth individual who offered him a walkout price. "I felt Coastered was a good idea so I rejected the offer," he says. The two-month-old company has raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from three investors, and Koteshwar has also put Rs 12 lakh in the venture.

"With Coastered, the personalised messages on someone's liking for a restaurant, for instance, can be mined for insights. And, using machine learning and modelling, these information could be monetised well," says Satish Tembad, one of the investors who has since joined Coastered as a co-founder. Tembad was earlier chief technology officer of Above Inc.

The second investor, Sriharsha Neergundha Nagaraj, a former Apple executive, has also joined Coastered as co-founder. Koteshwar said the third investor did not want to be identified.

Coastered is now looking to raise $1 million. "We are already in talks with two leading investors in India, and also a US-based investor," says Koteshwar, who had earlier founded ed-tech firm Sparsha Technologies. Kapil Rai, corporate vice president, Future Electronics is driving the effort for Coastered Technologies in the US.

Trying to be different

When there are scores of social networks from mainstream Facebook to Whatsapp to Snapchat and many more, will there be takers for yet another? Coastered has some similarities with private networks such as Couple, 23Snaps and Path and seems to have taken inspiration from dating apps. However, Koteshwar maintains his app is for that 10-15% of Facebook or WhatsApp users who have created an account but do not use it as they cannot emotionally connect with the hordes of people on their contact list.

We will have to wait and see if Coastered is able to get the loyal users it is talking about.