How to make for Bharat, not India: Rajnish Kumar, CTO & Co-founder @ Ixigo

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Rajnish Kumar, the CTO & co-founder of Ixigo, one of India’s largest travel apps, spoke about making for ‘Bharat’ and not India at the ProductGeeks Conference 2018. This is, of course, a play on the challenges for building for the masses and not only for the urban centres in India as both present very different scenarios for product teams.

IXIGO was able to identify the following obstacles for adoption when it came to ‘Bharat’:

a. Building products in regional languages:

Ixigo recognized that adding support for regional languages was crucial to promote engagement for users who did not have English-proficiency. To this effect, Ixigo went about adding support for 8 Indian languages to their Trains app that applied both in-app and to push notifications. Content, including blog posts & news articles, in these languages was also pushed to the users resulting in a 10x growth CTR-wise.

b. Making the app lightweight:

Ixigo was able to see via their own in-app surveys and third-party market research that the top reason for uninstalls in India was storage space. Low-cost smartphone users usually have to deal with this problem which is compounded by pre-loaded apps from manufacturers which are usually unremovable. This led Ixigo to consider making a lightweight versions of their apps targeting different types of devices. The stats that this threw up are telling: for every 0.5MB size reduction, Ixigo saw approximately 1,000 incremental organic installs a day or 30,000 a month.

c. Minimizing data usage:

The ‘Jio revolution’, so to speak, may have rid India of this problem to a large extent, however, there are still pockets across India where network access is poor and users still have to contend with iffy 2G/3G connectivity. Ixigo optimized the data usage of the app and added an ‘offline mode’ which boosted their downloads when their app also began sporting an ‘offline’ label on the Play Store. This particular advice is still relevant for much of the developing world where cheap high-speed mobile connectivity is still quite a way away.

d. Innovating for Bharat:

Another interesting addition to the Ixigo Trains app was the ability for users to locate trains in real-time without Internet or GPS. The unique feature was implemented via cell-tower data which Ixigo used to triangulate the location of the train. One of the main reasons for this innovation was due to Ixigo recognizing that many users lacked access to the internet while travelling due to poor connectivity in rural areas. While we’re not privy to specific internal workings, this is certainly a great example of ‘innovating for Bharat’.

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