I ( Ms.Radhika Agarwal) worked in the stock market & job keeps me on the toes all the time with its real-time action. But at the same time, I was missing the fun of going beyond numbers & doing something where I can make some difference in the life of a common man.
Managing school communication & spending quality time with my child were the major problems I was facing about 3 years back.
So I decided to put in money where my mouth is. I floated a company called “Linkus Infratech.” I named it Linkus as I wanted to Link child, parent & school for a meaningful purpose. We developed an APP where we can make a difference in the life of a child & parent. But unfortunately, this APP met with limited success.
Dealing with these phases was indeed very difficult for me. I came out of this setback & I spent time in reflecting on my own learnings. I thought to do something which is industry agnostic. I still had that innate desire to do something for the common man. Then finally after lots of discussions, thinking & iterations I could conceptualize this idea where I can connect the people in one locality who are physically closer to each other.
This is when the whole idea of Bhonga got conceptualised.
Bhonga connects you with everyone having the APP within 1 km circle around you whether you know them or not. So this APP takes your connect beyond your friends and family. It connects you with the unconnected but within your locality.
The moment you download the app, it checks your location and you automatically become a part of a community where all the people having the APP from your circle are connected.
Now people within locality can reach out to each other in case of emergencies like lost and found, medical emergencies, accidents etc.
Also, people in the locality can share resources like books, rides, ask queries, raise their voice against local issues.
Shop owners can get visibility for their products in the nearby area.
There are beautiful micro-economies that exist within every locality & they can prosper with this reach. This APP is a public platform thus even local authorities like ambulance, police, and fire brigade can also be on the platform & it can be great for citizens while dealing with emergencies, Says Ms Radhika Agarwal, Founder of Bhonga.
We do not make the name of the user public & share only the location of the post through google maps which are embedded in the APP itself. This privacy of the users has fully respected also a person can reach out in case of an emergency by tracking google maps.
People always wonder why we named it Bhonga. Bhonga means megaphone in Marathi. Megaphone helps a person to reach his voice in the nearby area. The same way our platform will give a person a reach &help his voice reach within a locality. This APP will act as a digital billboard for a person, Says Ms Radhika.
I feel the word Bhonga very aptly captures the DNA behind this APP & translates our vision of connecting people for meaningful purposes. We also felt that this word will connect well the cord with the Indian crowd.
Bhonga for me is just not an APP, idea or a startup but it’s a movement for me. A movement where I empower people in the locality to help, share & improve their business. I give them the power to reach. I visualise this platform getting used to solving emergencies, people in locality coming together for good causes like a plantation, solar power. Raising their voices against social issues.
I wish to touch the lives of small shop owners who are facing competition from MNC firms
Obviously, every entrepreneurial journey is tough. I feel challenges & difficulties are part of every entrepreneurial journey.
My biggest challenge was to deal with the setback of my 1st idea of Schloop. I was too emotional about my APP & was under immense pressure to digest the limited success of my APP. I learned it the hard way that “You either win or learn & there is nothing called as a failure”.
I am very fortunate to have an extremely supportive family which supported me in this tough time. I feel my persistence & patience level has improved now. Bhonga is just 3 months old baby now. I have a long way to go before I make this “Bhonga” movement a success.
The platform will become self-sustainable as we can place advertisements in the Home section of the APP or in future we can charge users for wider reach beyond 1km.
We have developed MVP (minimum viable product) at this time & gauging user’s response & interface at this point. When we are assured of our thesis playing out we are very open to raising funds for scalability.
This platform is 2 months old & has a user base of 10000 at this point & is steadily growing. We have very encouraging feedback from a few of the users.
In one of the suburbs of Mumbai, a case of physical & mental abuse got reported on our platform. To our surprise, people in the area actually showed a willingness to come forward & help. Finally, through the combined inputs of the locality, people could connect that lady with lawyers specialised in dealing with such abuse.
I am very glad that the platform has got used to solving such a serious problem as well.
One of the users from Neral area actually wrote to us about how great this platform is. She is running a small farmhouse in the area &is very encouraged by hyperlocal reach she could get through this platform. She was very appreciative of the potential of this platform.
Bhonga has been used for a variety of purposes. For example- in one of the areas there was a reporting of a missing person. So people are willing to find solutions & are ready to post emergencies on Bhonga where they will get the most relevant reach.
One of the homemakers used Bhonga to promote her bakery products. She is seeing an uptick in enquiries where localities are asking more details. Bhonga has helped her to get more interest from the people in the vicinity & she is able to engage the potential customers in a better way. She is very regular in updating new cakes she is baking.
We are very happy as our platform is helping small homemakers to achieve her dream.
We have taken enough measures to minimise the misuse of the platform. We have made a provision of reporting of the post. Thus reported post will be a red flag for other readers.
This is a completely public platform where police, government authorities can be present on the platform. This public nature of the platform will act as a deterrent to put any fake post. We have refrained from allowing forwards on this platform, unlike other social media platforms. This will avoid fake news spreading wildly.
I feel this platform can have a strong socio-economic impact even in rural India. Like a farmer can rent his tractor when not in use, a sarpanch can announce a medical camp in an area. Government’s agro-department can announce weather forecast for a particular area on this platform.
Villagers can share resources like rides, books, clothes furniture etc can save cost. They can better reuse their resources.
I feel Bhonga is a very democratic platform where content will be created by the users, consumed by the users &even acted/reacted upon by the users. I view this as a citizen’s empowerment tool.