India’s ban on TikTok last year left a vacuum in the short form video content space, but several players rushed to make the grade and become the new go-to platform for its 200-million users in the country. Gurugram-based Bolo Indya is just one such example.
The short video and commerce platform with over six million users currently, nearly three million creators, supporting 14 vernacular languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Sinhala, and others, was launched in May 2019. It has recently been garnering investor attention as it raised $400,000 led by Inflection Point Ventures, with existing investment from Eagle 10 Ventures also participating.
This made us curious about exploring the app, and we bring you our first impressions in this week’s app review section.
Bolo Indya is available on both Google Play Store as well as App Store. On Google Play store, the app has been installed more than 1 million times, and has notched up a 4.3 rating.
What’s in the app?
The welcome screen of Bolo India first asks you to select your preferred language to peruse the app. Once you start browsing, the first thought that occurs is that creating an account is not a necessary step for window-shopping through the app! However, accessing videos does require you to sign up.
The top of the home screen provides the user with two buttons – Trending and Live. While trending videos are similar to Insta Reels and TikTok, the live section has sessions like FB Live.
Amongst all its offerings, the makers seem to be betting the most on the Bolo-Live streaming feature, with its real time gamification in the form of a gifting feature for content creators based on their followers and engagement. Content creators are able to redeem the rewards in cash on the platform. The live videos come pinned with a message on top that Bolo Indya is constantly monitoring the live sessions for moderation and safety.
Minimalism is the key on the app’s home screen, with all the info and access buttons readily accessible. To upload a video or start a live, you just need to tap the plus button on the home screen.
The app claims it has already crossed one lakh monthly micro transactions during its soft launch for Bolo Live in just the last few months. The app makers say Bolo Live is a unique service offering, and first of its kind in the country on a short video content platform that will help creator income to grow by 300 percent by December 2021.
Easy content creation
Content creation is as easy as clicking a button – literally here. Just press the ‘plus’ button in the middle of the home screen, and click ‘Video’ if you are making a video, or ‘Live’ if you want to start a live video.
Pre-recorded videos from your phone’s gallery can also be uploaded. As the content takes up the entire screen, with no framing, video quality is not compromised. The app makers say there is no time limit for a live, however, the video is not saved after the live is over. If you are making a fresh video on the app directly, you can pause and record. This means you do not need to shoot your video in one go. The app also provides audio from the app’s library, besides filters, video effects, and other editing tools such as fast or slow motion playback speeds.
User reviews point to insufficient views on their video content, errors in uploading videos, app crashing, and slow launches. This user, however, did not face any of these issues at the time of reviewing the app. In general, many user reviews have also applauded the app for offering a vast variety in terms of content creation.
Other features and Bolo Meet
A personalised online services session offered by the app is Bolo Meets, which can be a key market differentiator for Bolo Indya. In these sessions, short courses or a series of informative sessions are on offer for which users will have to sign up separately within the app. The platform claims over 10,000 new creators have already signed up for Bolo Meets services on the platform, and have delivered over 75,000 personalised video sessions.
By monetising their specialised skill-based content services, the app makers claim creator income has jumped up 200 percent to Rs 70,000 – Rs 1 lakh per month. The Bolo Meets sessions cover an entire gamut of topics including astrology, fitness, language learning, music instruments, motivational talks, personal finance and so on.
All videos are tagged under different categories for easy search – entertainment, fashion, beauty, shopping, finance, English learning, technology, health, general knowledge, cooking, lifestyle, relationships, DIY, career, jobs and so on.
The app also has a social media aspect with consumers having the option to follow their content creators, like videos, comment etc.
Bolo Indya does have a mass appeal, with language not being a barrier, and attracting content creators and consumers from various parts of India. Rightly labelled ‘Bolo Indya,’ the makers have enabled various communities to create content and monetise it.
In terms of potential, the app’s greatest advantage is its simple user interface. Also keeping with the theme of ‘vocal for local’, this home grown app is sure to strike a chord with those who want to discover and discuss in their language of comfort!