Interaction with Student Entrepreneur
Chilla –woman safety app that detect screams and send alerts
An application founded by an engineering student from Kolkata, Kishlay Raj. Chilla comes to the aid of women in emergency. The app finds place in the recommendations of the Ministry of Telecommunications and IT, in India.
- It can be triggered by a scream even when in a pocket or bag, or by pressing the power button five times.
- An SMS with the location is sent.
- E-mail with the audio recording and automatically places a call.
- Uses frequency detection instead of touch.
Q&A with the founder, Kishlay Raj :
Ques: Every startup has a story. Why this application? What was the sentiment behind it?
Ans: I am a sensitive person. Four years ago, I was shaken by the brutality of the Nirbhaya rape case. After which, I saw the protests that followed. That served as a kind of relief for me, that incidents as such would be prevented now. But yet, such cases did not seem to decline even after that. Also, the previous year I experienced something like this first-hand when my friend’s girlfriend was molested on the street. This triggered something in me. It is a shock when things like this happen around us. It was a kind of alert to me, like ‘what am I doing’. I had lost faith in protests. We needed something that had a better foundation that could actually help.
Ques: There is an app as a response for every problem today. Do you think this is sustainable? Where do you think this is leading us?
Ans: Technology has a lot to contribute to society. And what I personally feel is, developers of applications are mostly focusing on projects that have more economic value. Rather than doing something that can solve a problem for society. There are so many things technology can do for us. But they are not being searched enough. Everyone wants to be the next Myntra, next Flipkart. So this response to the problem provides mobility.
Ques: Your app has been rated a 5.0 on Google play and has received a tremendous response. There are other women safety applications. What do you think makes ‘Chilla’ stand out?
Ans: There was a particular app whose concept I found similar to mine. Yet, when I used the application I realized, that if you are in danger- you unlock the app and press the button- it then makes a scream sound, which is expected to get the bad guys to run away. How does that offer any solution? And this was an application listed in the top 10 apps for women safety. This came as a shock to me. So I realized either majority of them were based on a button-based solution or were based on tracking. I did not find the idea of tracking very appealing. So a practical solution was necessary. This was the thought process behind it. We needed to find a mid-way.
Ques: What marketing strategy, if any, have you opted for, to make sure your app reaches one and all?
Ans: There isn’t a concrete marketing strategy in place right now. But I am presently working on apps for optimization. This is to make it more visible on a search engine platform.
Ques: What have you further envisioned for your application?
Ans: It is a complete app. But I do want to increase awareness about the application. I want to reach everyone and tell them to have this app with them.
Ques: Describe one happy customer. One memorable response for the application.
Ans: There have been many good responses. I was invited to give a speech at the Science city auditorium in Kolkata, and this was just a week after the launch of the app. While I was speaking on the stage, I asked the crowd if any of them used a woman-safety application. I was not expecting a response. Just then a girl stood up and told me she did. I asked her which application she used. She said that she wanted to tell everybody present that she used only my application. That was a very fulfilling moment for me. When something is appreciated, it is really an awe moment for you.
Ques: Do we look forward to more apps from you?
Ans: While I was toying with the concept, I had developed another application before. This was actually a game. So I thought to myself if I could merge the sound technology and the game together. And I went on to do just that. This created an application that is responsive to only sound. It is called ‘Whistle Fly’ and it is a game that does not require touch. Just whistling. When I showed this to people, they told me ‘Why don’t you launch it?’. And just two weeks back, I launched it. It is the first whistle-controlled game. This game received a good response too.
Ques:What do you think of the startup ecosystem in India?
Ans: I think it was a development we all saw coming. A lot of major CEOs of companies in the Silicon Valley are Indians too. I had no doubt about our country developing the new Silicon Valley. It is also wonderful that the government is supporting the startups so much. My app featuring on the recommended list of the Ministry of Telecommunications and IT was a huge encouragement for me.
Ques: You are a successful app developer, while continuing to be a student. What would be your advice to all those students who aspire to be entrepreneurs?
Ans: Well, I am pursuing engineering. And in doing so, I am given a lot of time that I utilize to extract creative output. You are getting the freedom here. You needn’t drop out to do something. You should utilize this time for something that makes a difference.