Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ex McAfee employees launch Instagram rival wooplr


As social media evolves, platforms take on distinct roles. Tumblr, for example, is where the under-25 s go to share images of characters from their favourite shows. Instagram has undergone a memetic mutation to become a platform for sharing photographs of food. Now, a Bangalore-based company is hoping to become the platform of choice for people who want to share their photographs and opinions on clothing, accessories and food.

Wooplr is the brainchild of Arjun Zacharia, Praveen Rajaretnam, Soumen Sarkar and Ankit Sabharwal; all four are former employees of McAfee Bangalore. It is a social discovery platform for users who wish to share their images of finds and bargains from local stores.

"Wooplr is about helping people discover products from brick-and-mortar stores or flea-market brands -- those we might not ever hear of if someone didn't tell us about them. Currently, there is no platform where Indian shoppers can find genuine shopping/eating recommendations with visuals and share their shopping finds or find out what their friends are buying and from where," says Rajaretnam. Users can find out about new, interesting products, stores and eateries by subscribing to tastemakers outside their social circle.

When a Wooplr user sees an attractive piece of clothing or a stylish accessory , s/he tags a photo of it on the platform , with a note on where the item was purchased and for how much. This allows those with similar tastes to take notes for their next shopping trip.

Why do users need something like this when there already are so many social media platforms for sharing visual content - from the generic Facebook and Twitter to the more imageheavy Pinterest and Instagram? "It's very rare for someone to share shopping and food finds on Facebook. Plus, past status updates on Facebook are not searchable. If someone bought a pair of shoes and posted about it on their timeline, it could become very, very difficult to look for it later on. Twitter is not visual, and again too random. The lifetime of a tweet is incredibly short," says Rajaretnam, adding that Instagram and Pinterest do partially overlap in content , but not in concept. "They largely remain irrelevant to Indian shoppers and foodies. They deliver content that is too generic."

The company has already garnered some positive word-of-mouth publicity. Model and actor Aviva Bidappa says: "I like the look and feel of the site: it's simple but classy and elegant. I think it's a great concept because it's the only platform of its kind where people interested in fashion can connect and exchange notes. If I like anything posted by people I follow, I go and check it out at the store they got it from."

Clothing deals aren't the only things Wooplr users are sharing. "I've been using Wooplr since June last year, when they had just launched the closed beta. I post mainly about food, and was one of the first food curators on Wooplr. It has helped me build my own social influence and it is very satisfying to see people try out and give feedback on my recommendations," says Agratha Dinakaran , social media consultant for restaurants.

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