Pivoting to a better product. The Crowdnub Story.

Pivoting to a better product. The Crowdnub Story.


By December 2011, enough VC money has already flowed into big and fledgling eCommerce businesses in India, and was (and is) fast flowing out too.

When you are leaking money from your core operations, you don’t have much room to experiment with new marketing channels, including Social Media, a channel that is the most sexed up and the least understood.

It was in such times and on one nippy morning in December when Ashok, our Head of Products, pulled me into a room and gave me an update of our Social Commerce product Trolly. It wasn’t good news.

While Trolly was delivering promised results to those who used it diligently, we were not getting the traction. Trolly was built just for eCommerce businesses and that was the problem.

The solution was to expand the funnel and make the Trolly proposition relevant to other businesses as well. But that meant we had to break down the rigidities and rebuild it grounds up.

A young tech company will make many trips back to the drawing board until it finds market fit and acceptability. Every such story is an experience, a lesson, and possibly, an inspiration.

Here is the story of how we did it.

We designed a new identity

Now that the focus was not just eCom businesses, it didn’t make sense to call it Trolly. So after many exhausting deliberations (you know the pain in finding a suitable dotcom), we called the new product ‘Crowdnub’, which translates to ‘The essence of people.’ It is a Social Media product after all.


We built a better proposition

If we are back at the drawing board, why not build a better product proposition.

We set the goal for Crowdnub to give any brand the power of a bespoke application on a SaaS platform.

Using this platform, brands could build virality for their brand, engage users deeply, drive them to their offline/online properties, and glean rich insights about their user base. Not just that, Crowdnub would do all this across desktop, tablet, and mobile, and on multiple social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Brands typically use several apps to achieve the above. Our belief is that they should use just one app. This reduces user-friction towards ‘allowing’ apps and makes data mining easy.

We call this belief, The 1-App Methodology.

We give the holy grail. Data. 

One of the reasons why Social media turned from fad to fabulous is brands can now finally get the missing dimension in data, the Social Graph.

Crowdnub combines App-level data with Facebook Insights and custom Google Analytics reporting to generate a richer profile and understanding of the users.

One example is how a retail chain is proposing to use Crowdnub is to collect membership IDs of Loyalty card users through richengagements on the Fan page and tie them back to rich social, demographic, and geographic information about those members. This would have only been possible with a bespoke application, but now there is Crowdnub.

We blurred the lines

Together, Mobile and Social deliver phenomenal user reach. Traditionally though, they are treated with separate pairs of gloves. Crowdnub’s platform-agnosticism means that this convergence is the default.

An offline business can drive their users to their social assets using Crowdnub’s mobile web platform that’s accessible through simple QR codes or smart links. Likewise, they can drive their social fans to their offline stores using various flexible rewards and loyalty programs that come standard with Crowdnub.

We enhanced the User Experience

The valley is buzzing with Apps built on some of the latest front-end technologies that exist today including HTML5, CSS3 and various client-storage techniques that deliver a near-zero latency once the app is loaded. Crowdnub too got the best.

One of the first impressions that Crowdnub leaves on your mind is the “native app” feeling inside a browser. You get the ‘drive by wire’ feeling every time you interact with the application. You can try it out here. Allow it to load and see what we mean.

Near-zero latency while transitioning between engagements have a dramatic impact on how much content can be consumed by a user per session. Plus, Crowdnub leverages the bleeding edge OpenGraph technologies to ensure that every action that a user takes on the content gets the maximum legally allowed reach.

More content consumption = More time spent = you get the drift.

We built it for scale

In geek speak,  we built Crowdnub with modern, industrial-strength, polyglot language frameworks like Ruby and NodeJS and on top of battle-tested no-SQL databases like MongoDB and message queues like Redis.

In plain speak, Crowdnub uses the latest cloud infrastructure to be very elastic and extremely scalable. When you wish large brands to use your product, scalability is the operative word.

Being on the cloud also means time to take campaigns live is not weeks but just a few minutes.


Recently, we received a call from an ambitious and talented techie from Chandigarh. We have some positions open and he wanted to apply. When asked why he wants to join us, he said he wanted exposure to the technologies we were working on and that there aren’t many Indian tech companies who do that. We all walked around with inflated chests for two days after this call.

One of the by-products of entrepreneurship is that you inspire and attract other similar minds.

By sincerely making a good product better, with ever more focus on cutting-edge technology, and with commercial success, we hope we will inspire more people.

- @kkirank


Image Source: Liza Donnelly

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