How many of you have experienced or have ever heard of something like a tree branch forcing into your bedroom or living room; or you are having some issue with the water supply or electricity in your apartment and other related problems, and you post that on some social platform and within 5 minutes a local neta arrives at your residence and makes sure that the problem is fixed without haste?
Exactly this is what happened when an old lady, a resident of Pune in Pimpri area frustrated with a tree branch poking into her living room posted a complaint on a platform called NetaG. Minutes later the local Cooperator was at her door assuring her that the problem will be resolved soon and within 4-5 days the tree was trimmed down cleaning the whole place as well.
This is what NetaG does and exactly what its founder Krushnaal Pai had dreamt of. Krushnaal always wanted to build a common transparent platform for all the politicians and the citizens to communicate freely. All of us pay huge taxes which go into repository about which we don’t care a damn and then later blame the politicians for not using the money for addressing the correct issue.
It so happened that at the age of eighteen, Krushnaal, went to the polling booth along with his parents to vote for the first time. He was confused with whom to vote because there was no photo of the candidate, he had never seen them before and doesn’t have any knowledge about the work that those candidates have done. Incapable of arriving at a solution, he asked his parents for help. But he was also not satisfied with what his parents explained. That is when Krushnaal decided to open up a platform where citizens can interact and have knowledge about the politicians.
After completing his graduation from MIT, Pune, he was employed in Accenture and worked there for 3 and a-half years. With his first payment he funded for research for his long ignited idea.
With time he realized that he ought to put more time for NetaG, so he left his tech job and infused another 2 lakhs into the venture and started conducting surveys on what did the politicians and citizens wanted out of such an app.
The Pune based startup is named as LightVision Technologies.
“Politicians needed a lot of guidance and coaching to use such apps, so I realized the venture was heavy on the operations side, and I needed another person to help with that,” said Krushnaal, adding that he hired Deepak Pandey from Mumbai to help him with this. These two together launched NetaG on Google Play in January this year.
What is NetaG?
It is a social platform based on location that connects citizens and local politicians who addresses various civic issues. The process involves posting a small content about the problem along with a picture of it. Once it is the posted, the app’s algorithms find the segment in which the problem is posted and alerts all the politicians working for that’s segment. The recent version even enables the complaints to be anonymous. This fantastic app allows users to keep a track of the work that the politicians are doing along with photos as proof. The users can also chat live with the politicians.
The app has reached around 4000 downloads over the last few months and about 350 issues reported on it. The time needed to solve a particular issue depends on the type of issue that is being posted. It takes around a day to about a month to solve a problem.
“Technology these days has made these people so accessible, I’m glad politicians are open to using it, and have kept themselves updated with respect to these modern tools,” a user of the app said in a testimonial. NetaG has more than 300 politicians on the platform, with over 45 elected corporators from PCMC (Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) in Pune, and few wards in Mumbai.
The present market scenario and competition
According to Krushnaal, competition in this domain is healthy and should be there because it doesn’t promote any business in building luxury. In 2014 elections there was 550 million voting count out of which more than 100 million had smart phones. Cisco currently released a report which said that have 651 million smartphones and 900 million mobile users by 2016. Many such e-government apps exist today like IChangeMyCity, MeriAwaaz and more.
Krushnaal wishes to create a stage in a marketplace-like model so that various e-governance players can come and integrate with each other.
“I know that the problem of governance is not something that can, or should, rest on just one entity. We need everyone’s help to answer the question ‘Whom should I vote for?’ ” he said.