Updated: February 10, 2021 9:40:57 am
In recent years, the world has witnessed the meteoric ascension of Chinese video-sharing application, TikTok, to global fame. The ubiquitous popularity of the application was nearly inescapable until it was finally banned here in India last year; a move that sent all the prolific users flocking to other video-sharing apps. In the wake of the ban, app developers scrambled to supplant the ByteDance-owned Chinese app with something similar, in a bid to to reclaim the massive Indian audience.
“There was this whole mad rush to find an alternative for the popular app in India,” acknowledges seventeen-year-old Saina Sodhi, who currently resides in the UK. She reflects, “TikTok is a very powerful social networking site. But I always felt the need for an Indian version of the application. It simply occurred to me that the Indian voices were being drowned out, owing to the vast global userbase of the app.”
“It was this lack of representation of our diverse Indian culture that propelled her to come up with an app of her own, which would amplify the Indian voices overseas. But for someone with just surface-level knowledge of coding, it was not all smooth-sailing. “I just have rudimentary understanding of coding,” she admits.
“So initially, I had tried to develop the application using websites like Bumble. But it soon dawned on me that it I would not be able to incorporate all those exciting features that draw the users to TikTok, by using such websites. So I enlisted the help of a women-centric development team. The app has been heavily inspired by TikTok and other famous social media apps. I founded my own eponymous company, the Saina Corporation and obtain a GST number. The Theek-Thaak app was launched under the aegis of my company. But again, as a minor, I was still too young to have a company under my own name. So I chose to appoint my mother as the proprietor instead.”
“After coming up with a basic model for the app in January last year, we had finally started working on developing the ‘Theek-Thaak app in the following moth, and we were done with the first model by November,” she recalls.
“Video-uploading, video-editing tools, live-streaming, social sharing, sounds, a Theekcode scanner and geolocation reactions are some of the basic services the app offers,” Sodhi says.
For all intents and purposes, the Theek-Thaak App is a replica of the now-banned TikTok app, which was popular among the youngsters with a penchant for uploading short clips online. “In order to enhance the experience of the user,” she shares, “I have tried to make my app more interactive. I have introduced moving buttons in the search bar. The colour theme is white, green and orange, which is a nod to our Indian ethos. This app is a great platform for our regional artists in India to showcase our diverse traditions and culture abroad. The latest version of the app, which is slated for release later in March this year, will offer some additional features, like Stories, Theekmojis, just to name a few.”
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Harking back to the day she decided the name of her app, she grins, “The name ‘Theek-Thaak’ was just a witty response to a question about what the TikTok app were to be called, had it been developed by an Indian-based company.”
“It phonetically synchs with the name,” she adds, pointing out how ‘theek thaak’ rhymes with the name of the original Chinese app. The suggestive logo of the ‘Theek Thaak’ application, which resembles the popular ‘OK’ hand gesture, encapsulates the theme of the app. Sodhi says “the hand gesture is often used to indicate that all is well. And that is what ‘theek thaak’ basically means.”
The Theek-Thaak application is currently available for use in eight different dialects like Gujarati and Tamil. But in the hope of further expanding the reach of her app, Sodhi plans to introduce twelve more regional languages in an imminent app update. She believes that it would help her reach all different quarters of the target audience. The application is available for Android and iOS users alike.
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