Remember Orkut? The initial introduction to social networking sphere in the early 2000s. Originally introduced by Google employee Orkut Buyukkokten in 2004, Orkut.com at its peak had witnessed 300 million active users on the platform, until it was replaced by Facebook, and eventually shut down in 2014. Now, Hello Network is the latest and fourth social media venture by Orkut Buyukkokten. Basically launched in May 2016 as an app-only platform, the main purpose of Hello is creating an offbeat social platform where users could explore bonds and friendships with other people.
As people vouch to delete Facebook in the wake of a massive data breach scandal, Hello definitely brings in a wave of relief. To this, Buyukkokten added that “We initially had a plan of getting 100 beta testers on-board for launch in India, but we ended up with 35,000. During the beta testing phase, we found out that the Indian audience is more open and welcoming when compared with North American markets like the US. When I look at how the beta testers were using the app, they are not afraid of reaching out to strangers and making friends; they are not afraid of expressing themselves in front of others and on the public platform”.
This app, currently available in Brazil with nearly one million downloads, was in the beta test mode in India for the past several months. In fact, Test users have spent over 320 minutes each month on the app, thus, reflecting the popularity of the sport, entertainment, devotion and technology in India.
Now, with its public launch in the country, Hello has added certain India-centric features. These include new capabilities for users to add links on the platform and several new personas. Like for India, Buyukkokten added that “We added Bollywood fan, Cricket fan, Spiritualist, and Chai lover to our list of user preferences considering how important these things are to people in the country. As we launch in different countries, we will expand personas accordingly.”
In fact, Hello is not just for English speakers in India either. Buyukkokten clarified that the company is looking actively to localize and translate content on the platform to suit certain local audiences in the country. To this, he added that “We will start with English, but, as we get more regional native speakers on Hello, we will definitely focus our efforts on translation”. A desktop version of Hello is also coming soon, Buyukkokten regarded, in an attempt to change its app-only image in India.
The company is also open to setting up offices in India, to which he said that, “We would love to open a marketing office as well as an engineering office in India, in different cities”.
The Hello Network app, however, is a bit different from other social networks out there. Like, During the sign-up process, it asks the users to choose five different tastes and preferences, called personas, out of more than a hundred. It then helps them match with other people having similar tastes. Algorithms used by Hello help create clusters of users with similar tastes and help the platform categorize individuals in an organized manner.
Also, users can download this app as its availability has been confirmed by the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.