Technology has boomed beyond the belief in the past 10 years, billions of people are adapting to the latest digital technologies for the information at our fingertips. Thus, privacy issues and protection of the data has become a major concern. Information mishandling, social media and installing too many apps are also some of the range of negative consequences which result in the access of personal data.
Considering the safety as an important aspect and to protect the privacy of the consumers and their data and to safeguard the digital identity of the mobile users, serial entrepreneur Aditya Vuchi launched Doosra in 2020. Doosra, a Hyderabad based company offers first-of-its-kind solution, a 10-Digit, SIM free virtual mobile number which users can share at any place where they are compelled to share their personal mobile numbers. It helps to get rid of endless spam calls, messages and reduces the risks of getting defrauded.
Aditya Vuchi, Founder and CEO of Doosra holds a Master in Science with Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University. Being a first-generation entrepreneur, he is a person that believes in giving back to society in the areas of sports and entrepreneurship. He is an active athlete and an alum of Startup Leadership Program (SLP) and Startup Saturday and fosters the entrepreneurial ecosystem through focused mentorship. In 2019, he was inducted into the 1st edition of “Made in Hyderabad” that covers the “Amazing Stories of 25 Start-up Entrepreneurs”
Below are the excerpts from the interview:
What is Doosra all about? How did you finalize the brand name?
Doosra is a secondary, virtual mobile number that can be shared anywhere; malls, supermarkets, delivery apps etc. without worrying about phone number abuse from telemarketers and scamsters. By blocking all calls by default, Doosra gives you complete control of who can reach and who cannot.
You can use Doosra anywhere you need to give a mobile number. All messages and OTPs arrive in the Doosra app, just like any other number. Our customers are actively using Doosra in Online classifieds, Malls, Supermarkets, Delivery websites, Messaging platforms (like Whatsapp, Signal, Telegram and others), Insurance portals, Dating and matrimonial sites, Car buying sites, buy/sell marketplaces etc. Some features of the app include a Smart Call Blocker, calls for trusted service providers like Swiggy, Zomato, Ola; a free voicemail service to help both callers and customers. But most importantly, our user base can securely callback people that have reached them without ever revealing their personal information. This call-bridging facility is the first of its kind in India.
We even have Doosra Pro, a KYC-enabled, more flexible edition that allows users and small businesses to use a Doosra Number. Some notable features include Official support for all messaging platforms, Indefinite control of call blocker, Unlimited trusted contacts and Multi-device login (upto 3 devices).
As a secondary number that outfoxes spammers and scamsters, Doosra is the perfect name that indicates what we stand for, and the connotation to cricket also helps create a relatable brand for the Indian audience.
What factors influenced or motivated you to start this venture? What seeded the idea of a startup in this sector?
Doosra was born from a bitter personal experience. I was shopping at a sporting goods store but decided to walk away after the billing clerk mandated that I share my personal mobile number for “billing” purposes. With experience in digital marketing, I fully understood the travesty of sharing personal information with businesses and the resultant behavioural profiling for advertising purposes. But this incident gave the idea of creating a publicly – shareable mobile number that one can give at places where a person is uncomfortable sharing their personal number.
What were the first few steps during and after the launch of Doosra?
We launched in September 2020 with Samantha Akkineni talking about the value of Doosra for digital transactions in general and women safety in particular. The focus at the time was to understand the different use cases of Doosra and what kind of audiences would find this instantly valuable. A few weeks later, in November 2020, we ran a survey asking our early adopters, about what features Doosra should build next. Based on this feedback, we launched Doosra Pro in January 2021, which allowed users to sign into their Doosra account from multiple devices, the ability to use their Doosra number on platforms like Whatsapp, Telegram etc.
The focus on our customers’ feedback and building features that they will find useful, has been a great path to product-market fit for us.
Have you raised funds so far?
Doosra is bootstrapped and has not raised any external capital to kick-off the product development and initial go-to-market. As we get enough clarity on the audience usage patterns, we will seek growth capital.
Tell us about your motivation. What keeps you going?
The excitement about solving consumer problems is something that drives me to build products and companies. Knowing that we are able to make a difference in people’s lives through technology is what keeps me going.
How has your journey been so far?
I’ve been very fortunate to be brought up in a family that ascribed significant value to education, knowledge development and for providing the freedom to explore life as it is meant to be. I was interested in building things early on in life through school and alumni activities that helped shape my perspective of life and relying on a network to build successful initiatives. This made starting up in 2010 much more smoother and I am grateful for everyone that helped me through this journey.
How big is your team? How did you manage the team and business during COVID-19 outbreak?
The team at Doosra is small (15-member strong and agile) with significant responsibilities for each individual to drive product success . We aim to ensure the best user experience for this new and innovative concept.
What is the USP of your brand? How is Doosra addressing the data privacy & protection requirements of its customers?
Doosra is a secondary, virtual mobile number that can be shared anywhere; malls, supermarkets, delivery apps etc. without worry about phone number abuse from telemarketers and scamsters. By blocking all calls by default, Doosra gives you complete control of who can reach and who cannot.
We are well-positioned for the following reasons:
- Simple 2nd number: All-digital and instant activation means users can get a Doosra number quickly.
- Virtual: No SIM needed, or additional device required to run a Doosra number.
- Focus on privacy: Doosra provide unique call management features like trusted contacts, trusted services, and voicemail, which are not available with any telecom operator.
- Voicemail: All calls that are blocked, can be directed to a voicemail box, making it one of the simplest public or business number for our users.
How did Covid impact the business and plans? How do you see growth and market response in a post Covid world?
While we planned to launch around May, we had to postpone the product launch until September as consumer sentiment recovered and people resumed their shopping activities. From a marketing perspective, we had to tweak our approach to focus heavily on digital advertising to get the word out there. On the product front, we have been generous beneficiaries of the pandemic. As people shopped more online and paid using digital channels, the fear of identity theft was heightened and thus, Doosra’s privacy-focused mobile number was very well received.
We plan to accelerate our go-to-market strategy in the next 6-9 months. There are two major trends that we are bullish about:
- The return to normalcy has started with the vaccine announcement. We expect resurgent economic activity giving more opportunity for people to use a Doosra Number.
- Privacy concerns: With the recent uproar due to privacy concerns of Whatsapp and others, people will want to maintain the privacy of their personal information and Doosra is a great tool that enables it.
Being a startup, what do you think is the biggest challenge in India?
As a B2C startup, there are two broad challenges from my perspective:
- Even today, the time, effort and money required to start a private limited company and make sure we comply with all the statutory requirements in India is quite an onerous task. This leads to minor infractions that founders don’t realise until much later, leading to tiresome course correction exercises. Running a company should be simpler from a secretarial and taxation point of view.
- Paid products: As a privacy-focused product, we are having to educate our target audience about our philosophy of not selling any personal or behavioural data. Instead, we are building a sustainable business through a subscription model. Since people are used to getting products for “free” in exchange for their data, this change in product offering requires some getting used to.
Please share your views on how Indian Government is supporting startups? Would you like to share insights on the New Social Media Rules announced?
There has been a lot of momentum around startups in the past few years. Indian Government’s startup India program has made building a startup as a viable career option. Support around IP development through reduced fees, reduced percentages in bank guarantees for government projects and others. This does level the playing field for MSMEs and startups when competing for bids against larger companies.
While the intent of the new social media rules are good, they must be developed with more collaboration from industry stakeholders and should not stifle communication and innovation in the country. Also, the new rules should not make running a company even more onerous than it is today.
Where do you see yourself in the upcoming 3 to 5 years?
I look forward to the next few years as the privacy landscape will evolve significantly and Doosra is the first brand that is so sharply focused on ensuring consumer data privacy is protected during everyday transactions and interactions. We will expand our products and offerings to realise our vision of being the “The privacy layer for India’s internet”.
What are your messages or leadership lessons for budding entrepreneurs/young generation?
The entrepreneurial landscape has become much better over the last few years. Access to early stage capital is better than ever and India will see a cycle of successful entrepreneurs that will generate significant wealth for themselves and their employees through stock options. This is the good news and any aspiring entrepreneur should not hesitate to startup.
That said, it is also important to build some anchor skills and competencies during the first few years of their professional journey by working in startups or mid-stage companies. With those basic approaches to problem solving, they can startup and conquer the world!
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