Naina KhedekarJun 24, 2016 17:55:50 IST
Built by former Google and Microsoft engineers, Gigato app aims to bring down the cost of mobile data in emerging nations such as India. It does so by allowing app developers to sponsor the data for their end users, and supports prepaid users on all mobile operators across all telecom circles in India.
For most of us, mobile data has become an essential, yet expensive commodity. Gigato co-founder Shailesh Nalawadi adds, "Despite deep smartphone penetration with devices and affordable devices, there is a solid demographic of consumers who are uncomfortable with paying for data and only connect to the net when they're in a Wi-Fi enabled area. Gigato is a mobile application that reimburses consumers with data for data spent on browsing partner apps. It can be used by Android prepaid users across telecom operators and regions in India.
"As we dug into the problem, we also saw that this was a significant issue that was hampering the growth for startups in India relying on these users. This system had to be made better for all parties involved and that is what we set out to do. Make internet sponsored and available to all. This is how we began our journey with Gigato," Nalawadi adds.
Shailesh Nalawadi did his MBA from the University of Chicago. He also holds an M Eng from University of Michigan and a Bachelors from the University of Toronto. Co-founder Raina Kumra holds degrees from Boston University, New York University and Harvard University. Alfian Tan, the third co-founder, who previously worked at Microsoft, studied at the University of Washington and University of Michigan.
Nalawadi explains that Gigato benefits both consumers and app publishers. Publishers can reward for loyal behaviour and also engage with their customer base. On the other hand, consumers benefit by the offerings for data reimbursement. "We charge for every megabyte that we give out to users. However, our model is not inherently different from cashback models out there now. Our only difference is we give megabytes and we create engagement feedback loops," he said.
Gigato doesn't charge for appearing on their platform, but only for actual engagement and usage. Therefore, for app publishers who want to test drive can do so at no cost. Gigato has also launched a Wallet that lets users save their recharges to use as and when they require it. This is a change from their previous model wherein one had to instantly redeem recharges.
When asked about the net neutrality debate, Nalawadi says Gigato launched at the time when the Net Neutrality debate and Facebook's Internet.org was at its peak and there were questions regarding their role. He adds, "We support the principles of Network Neutrality. We worked hard to make stakeholders understand why our particular approach as aligned with the spirit of net neutrality. Being declared completely compliant and net neutral by TRAI and the Save The Internet group was very heartening."
The app developers only pay for actual megabyte consumption and a setup fee or contract fee depending on the arrangement. "In effect, we are buying data packs from operators and it is exactly the same price that you would pay for a data pack so we don't even get any preference from them,"he adds. The startup has received seed funding and now plans to widen its reach by adding more app developers.
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