Hood is a new-age pseudonymous social media app that brings the best of the conversation by combining affinity-based discussions with a layer of anonymity, providing a breath of fresh air to the audience.
It raised 3.2 million in its seed round which involved participation from 3one4 Capital, 9Unicorn Ventures, and Eximius Ventures. It also featured several angel investors of repute like Vijay Shekhar Sharma (founder — Paytm), Ashneer Grover (founder — Bharatpe), Ritesh Agarwal (founder — OYO), amongst others.
The following reasons inspired confidence in their propositions and led us to investing in them and their vision.
1) The Indian Dominance in Social Media
Social media platforms dawned in 1997, and users have been addicted ever since. An average user expends about two and half hours every day across different social media platforms. This coupled with the fact that there are over 4.62 billion social media users across the globe helps one to understand just how omnipresent social media’s influence is on the daily lives of the populace.
This makes social media industry an extremely lucrative frontier, especially with the fact that India represents the 2nd largest territory for the industry. More than 50% of our population lies below the age of 25 and India is expected to form a quarter of all social media users across the world by 2025.
However, even in an industry that is flourishing quite as well as this, there is still a significant problem statement that needs to be addressed — security and privacy.
As per a report from Verizon, 81% of people are concerned about their social privacy. While the sample was primarily obtained in USA, these sentiments echo around the globe. The increasingly frequent data breach occurrences have inspired caution in a lot of people.
53% of social media users confessed to using unique passwords for each of their social accounts and 69% previously deleted a social media account because of a breach of their data.
Therefore, while the social media industry is indeed expanding tremendously, there is a great need for mechanisms that allow users the liberty to form and sustain meaningful connections while still guaranteeing their own safety.
2) Pseudonymous Social Media — The Dawn We Needed
While social media platforms initially emerged as a mechanism for people to correspond with people they know at any given moment, their scope of utility has grown immensely to become social hubs that engender new connections as well. However, as these newfound platforms for socialising emerged for users worldwide, so did the possibility of people using them for nefarious purposes like stalking, bullying, hate speech, etc.
The fact that traditional platforms necessitated people signing up using their email ids and usernames made the cause of data protection very sensitive. This fear has resulted in a growing clamouring for more stringent data protection laws and dedicated platforms that allow people to socialise while having their anonymity intact.
A Pseudonymous social media platform is one which allows its users to interact with each other and socialise without giving up any information that can be traced back to them. While joining a traditional social media platform would require one to reveal their true identity, pseudonymous social media channels have no such restriction.
A survey conducted at the end of 2020 found that almost 3-in-10 social media users in the Asia-Pacific region use an anonymous profile. In India specifically, 28% of users used an anonymous profile to traverse through social media. Reddit, which is the most popular pseudonymous social media in the world, has reached the 1.7 billion monthly visits threshold several times in its history.
While problem statements for the social media industry were similar for both the Indian demographic and the global user base, the solution available were primarily catered towards the latter. The team behind Hood understood that there was a significant demand for platforms that allowed anonymity amongst their users, while also catering specifically to the needs and desires of the Indian market. This is what led them to develop Hood.
3) A Great Team
Due to the fact that pseudonymous social media platforms are a great solutions for the woes of most people, it is also a very competitive industry to be a part of. This is why carving out a niche within this space while staying true to the Indian demographic that they are looking to serve necessitates a strong team that is both well experienced and can comprehend the nuances of the Indian consumer psyche very well.
Hood was started by three all founders; Jasveer Singh, Abhishek Asthana, and Deepak Kumar, all of whom are immensely experienced and bring in expertise from different sectors to create a multidimensional approach.
Jasveer, has over a decade-long experience as a key operator. He excellently combines his tremendous business acumen with an uncannily refined ability to exponentially enhance the potential of a business. He has successfully exited from two of his ventures; QiK Stay — the fastest growing network of affordable premium hotels and India’s first hotel chain to go international, and Sparehousing.com — a great platform for people to share PG accommodations and find fantastic roommates.
Abhishek is amongst the most eminent marketers in the entire ecosystem. He has previously created and led innovative marketing and brand building campaigns at companies like Freecharge and Reckitt. He also runs an industry-leading advertising agency called Ginger Money which he scaled to $1 million in ARR within a year of inception. In addition to this, he operates a pseudonymous handle on Twitter with 1.4 million followers. He bring his unique marketing expertise to add exponential to Hood’s growth trajectory.
Deepak brings in the technological mastery that powers the platform as a whole. He has worked extensively as an esteemed developer at BlackBeltHelp and ParallelDots. Moreover, he was also a founding member of Retention.ai which was acquired by Inshorts where he later served as a Tech Lead. H is proficiency with anything related to software development is unmatched.
The team of Hood brings a diverse set of skills and extensive experience to form one of the most complete teams across the ecosystem.
4) Excellent Product Vision
Creating a platform that is not just in line the objective of protecting identity but also feels welcoming and familiar to users is an extremely arduous task. Unlike China, the largest market for the social media industry, where WeChat is the predominant social media platform, users in India utilise a multitude of platforms to meet their socialising needs. As per a recent report, Facebook is the most popular social media platform in India, with 35% of the sample base professing to using it. WhatsApp was featured second on the list with 26 %, and YouTube ascended to the third positions 25%. Instagram claimed 12% to round up the top 4.
Hood is a revolutionary platform that brings the best from the existing platforms and allows users to partake without having to compromise on their privacy.
Along with its industry leading anonymity frameworks, Hood allows its users to share their thoughts/experiences with other users to solicit their feedback. Users can share their ‘two cents’ on any post they like. This allows people to create conversations.
Moreover, the app allows the creation of groups for pertaining to shared interests like music, anime, etc. so that people can find the posts that they like as seamlessly as possible. This encourages users to fraternise amongst themselves and forge new friendships.
All these features, which form the best of what other platforms are represented by, create a very welcoming environment for people who wish to interact with others bereft of any fear of stalking, harassment, or violent speech directed at them. It also allows people who are not comfortable sharing their experiences to come forward with their thoughts.
The Indian social media industry is a particularly vibrant one. With the 2nd largest user base globally and a constantly engaged audience, India lies at the very heart of the social media landscape. However, despite the enormous growth that the industry is witnessing, it is also being relentlessly plagued with a rising number of data breaches and privacy violations. These are so heinous that users are being turned away from the very idea of online socialising. To assuage these sentiments, it is imperative to devise solutions that can make partaking a much less intimidating experience.
Pseudonymous social media platforms are a great solution for this. Unlike traditional platforms, they don’t ask for credentials that can be used by anyone to harass them. Given the fact that 28% of the Indian demographic has used an anonymous profile to scour social media, it is solution that is beginning to gain widespread usage across the country. However, a massive pain for most users is the fact there is no stellar domestic platform that takes this concept and curates it specifically for Indians so that they feel welcomed.
Realising the problem at hand, the team of Hood came together to create a comprehensive solution. Comprised of three incredibly people that bring in diverse experiences and skillsets, Hood is powered by amongst the most complete teams in the ecosystem. Jasveer, Abhishek, and Deepak are extremely prudent operators with prior experience of amassing a large follower base on social media.
Combining their competencies, the team was able to create one of the most unique social media platforms. Hood brings in the best features from across the industry and allows its users to partake in them without giving up their privacy. While social media was turning into a harrowing experience for several users, Hood instead offers respite from this fear and grants its users the ability to truly be themselves.
We are very excited to be a part of Hood’s journey and wish them the best of luck.