One of the biggest pain points in switching phones is the hassle of getting your contacts from one device to the other. This problem is amplified if you are moving across different platforms, say from a Windows Phone to Android. There are tonnes of apps that let you save contacts and manage them, trying to offer a solution to the problem. But now a startup by Indians based out of Singapore and Bangalore has made these very inert contacts the USP of their new app, 6degrees, by making them live.
What does it do?
The app — it is spelt 6degrees on Google Play — does what all other contact apps do, however adding a lot of unique features. So it also creates a backup on the cloud that lets you access your contact from other devices. Plus, you can create an online profile, which when updated will automatically change in the contact lists of all your friends provided they are also using the same app. The contacts are behind an encrypted wall, so no one else gets to see them even though they are on the cloud. But you can create a trust list of people who have access to your contacts. Since you will also have access to some other lists, you get to know more people — or have them on your contact list.
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The big idea
The idea for 6degrees came when Niranjan Rao and Arun Samudrala tried to find a solution to their own problem of losing touch with friends when their contact details changed and,of course, finding duplicates in contact lists. “We spoke to some friends and realised that these were widespread problems. I think it touches a chord when you see someone understanding your annoying little problem, no matter how small it may be,” says Rao.
So Arun, who has over 13 years experience in the field of technology, including eight in Silicon Valley, and Niranjan, an engineer-MBA with many years in investment banking decide to come together to get their contacts right last September. By January this year, they had a Beta version of 6degrees listed on Google Play with an iOS version in the works. They have also been chosen by the Singapore govt to go to Shanghai for a 10-day summit in March-April, to showcase Singapore’s best startups to the China market as part of the iSTART programme.
“Six° aims to give you genuine, real-time ownership of what is rightfully yours – your universe of relationships. Your phonebook is one of the most information-rich resources you have, and represents almost your entire universe of contacts, but it is offline, inert, and doesn’t recognise human identity,” explains Niranjan. Their app tries to change this by connecting all your friends from various social networks in the one place that’s nearest to you – your phonebook – and it keeps them Live, a bit like the People hub in the Windows Phone. “That’s our USP – the concept of a Live Contact. Your Live Contact recognises its counterpart on your friend’s phones and updates them whenever you update the “mother” contact on your phone. So now you own your contact details even on your friends’ phones,” explains the IIM-A alumnus. Plus, it helps you search for people and get introduced through common friends. That is why it is called 6degrees.
The app is fairly easy to use and the duplicate buster is very effective. However, the app will become useful only when a good number of your contacts are also using it. That is where this app could have a problem, for despite the mess their contacts lists are in people seldom use such apps.
But Niranjan is optimistic. “Every single person we have spoken to so far finds our product useful and is willing to share it with his close friends. In fact, for every person who has created a profile on 6degrees so far has invited an average of 9.8 other people to 6degrees – and that’s how we’re growing, purely organically,” he says, adding that they are adding users even in the Middle East and Brazil. The app has now been translated into six other languages. “While we’re still in Beta today, we already have 1 million contacts from 85 countries stored on our system,” he adds.
There are six people working on the app, with Niranjan and designer Aen Tan in Singapore and the rest in Bangalore. Next on cards is a iOS version followed by one for Windows. That should help get our contacts in order.