These days, one can hardly reach an unfamiliar destination without needing to make a phone call or two, which can often be quite irksome. To overcome the problem of explaining addresses, which are not always conveyed accurately, Aditya Vuchi, Niranjan Seelam, and Parikshith Reddy developed Zippr, an app that simplifies navigation. Zippr uses a smart address format; it’s an eight-character alphanumerical code which, once created, can be entered on the app or on Google to get the full address and the required navigational support. The trio chats with us about the app, technology, and more.
Co-Founder and CEO
How did you get the idea of developing an app for simplifying addresses?
I had spent significant time in the US, where communicating an address clearly for people to reach the doorstep was a routine exercise. Once I moved back to India in 2009, I saw that the need for accurate addresses had increased dramatically, especially with the increase in cab services and home deliveries. Every such scenario was painstakingly difficult, and so I envisioned a simpler way of indicating addresses, via a short code.
Since the initial version, we have evolved into a full-scale addressing system that is locality- and street-based, and is being adopted by multiple municipalities and state governments across India. We have already started work in 116 cities including New Delhi, Bhopal, Vizag, and Amaravati.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the app in the near future?
Zippr’s problem statement and solution have evolved over the five years since its inception. Having developed an addressing system that is now gaining official status from the government opens up the possibilities of multiple products and systems that would add value to our society. We are now quickly integrating with multiple emergency providers to ease the communication of an address in times of distress. We also envision building tools where small and local businesses will benefit tremendously from this platform.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as an entrepreneur?
While transparency is important, being able to absorb the emotional volatilities of the business is critical as an entrepreneur. I failed at this early on when I candidly communicated the pitfalls and challenges of the business to junior employees, who then quit us immediately for a more secure job. That’s when I learnt that information is for all employees, but strategy is meant to be debated in a smaller, core group.
Co-Founder and VP, Operations
What are the key challenges you face in your business?
We are trying to create a standard addressing system for the whole country. Adoption of this new age system by all stakeholders is definitely a challenge. We have been cognizant of this challenge from day 1; hence we continue to engage various stakeholders in the ecosystem and evolve the business accordingly.
How has technology evolved in Hyderabad since you first started out?
Smartphone penetration and cheaper data plans brought in tectonic shift in tech adoption across the country. As a city we have evolved significantly in the last 4-6 years. The tech companies that have set up bases in Hyderabad have created the supply pool for talent. This has fueled tech startups and pushed the envelope on tech products coming out of Hyderabad.
What’s your personal favourite app or product?
It’s the iPhone – any day. Smartphones existed before 2007, but Apple put the customer at the center and created a design-led product to make the phone the all-in-one device that we know today. All other companies followed suit. It is not possible to imagine our lives without the internet, and the iPhone made a big contribution to this possibility.
Co-Founder and Director, Partnerships
What do you think our lives would be like if technology didn’t develop as quickly as it has?
Technology is a great equalizer, and the last decade of rapid internet adoption has made information and services highly accessible to everyone. Without technology and, in this case, internet-enabled tech, the economy would have stagnated and communication would have become a nightmare. India needs more tech developments like the internet revolution and the Aadhaar rollout to create jobs and keep up with the rapid population growth, so that people can have better and more comfortable livelihoods.
What kind of support do you receive from the government with respect to your work?
The government is constantly looking for innovation and trying to challenge the status quo, especially with regards to enabling better governance. We have been fortunate to work with some brilliant minds and technocrats who see the value of what we are doing. They understand that this is part of the basic infrastructure that the country needs to administer better. – as told to Sumana