Roar Startup Bundle – January 2016

Abeeth Nirmal
Abeeth Nirmal

Staff Writer

2016 is well on its way, and considering the positive feedback we got following The Hottest Srilankan Startups of 2015, we’ve decided to feature our take on the most up and coming Sri Lankan startups on a monthly basis.

With venture capitalist firms, angel networks and frequent startup events happening all around Sri Lanka, we feel the startup scene of Sri Lanka is only going to get busier this year. Add the hackathons that happen with a high frequency all around the island – well, you get the picture.

Without further ado, here’s our round up of startups for January 2016.

Buzzbird

Buzzbird is all about getting the pulse of a location. Image Credit: Buzzbird
Buzzbird is all about getting the pulse of a location. Image Credit: Buzzbird

There’s options aplenty for social media platforms and geo-tagging, but the folks at Buzzbird have cooked up their own flavour of a location-based social media platform, or so it seems. Although on first impression it’s hard to figure out a definite purpose for this app, the positive pre-release feedback they have been getting implies that there’s a demand.

The app works on the premise of a location based social media platform (for the country you’re in). Upon downloading (to be available on both Android and iOS), all you do is choose a nickname and you’re good to go. There is a newsfeed, albeit with a new twist which allows users to tune in and out of locations to specifically see what’s happening/happened in a particular location at a point of time they pick.

Posting content works the same way: users can post a combination of pictures, video and text to inform their peers on what’s going on in the vicinity. But in order to get the intended use out of this app and realise its potential, BuzzBird needs active users who will post and rate content.

Buzzbird should be hitting the app stores before the end of January.

Deciber

Deciber is an augmented reality app for Android that enables users to capture and share the sound pressure levels around them. Not interested? Think about your loud neighbour, or the person across your cubicle at office who has to read out their shopping list super-loud over the phone for everyone to hear. In addition to the technological applications (where measurements of sound levels are utilised), Deciber comes in handy when simply proving to someone that they are just too loud.

The app features over 4,000 installs and seems to have taken off well in countries like France, Hungary and Spain. Deciber is also an entry for the 2016 e-Swabhimani.

Using the app is relatively simple, you just open it up, point the device at the source so you can get a picture, and then take a screenshot. In addition to the maximum sound level in dB (decibels), it also gives you readings of the average level, date, time and the maximum threshold. Although the app interface is clean and clutter free with a no-frills approach for now, a beefed up pro-version is in the plans.

We can expect quite a few things from this paid version, such as automated sound level measurements and the inclusion of GPS based location information. There’s also plans in place to include a capture button (as opposed to having to take a screenshot) and even a Google Wear app for the same.

Sadly, what we can’t expect is an iOS app; Deciber (for now, we hope) remains strictly Android-only.

Lisn

Lisn
Lisn

A finalist from Venture Engine 2015, Lisn is an audiobook service and an app that’s looking to bridge the usage gap which currently exists between Sinhala-only audiences and the audiobook market in general. Sure, options are aplenty for anyone who would want to check out an English audiobook, but so far there’s been nothing in the market for solely Sinhala content.

Lisn has a two-way approach to fixing this. Firstly, they plan to take Sinhala audiobooks to the mass market by making them easily obtainable. This is done via payment gateways incorporating all major mobile carriers in Sri Lanka; a smart move considering their potential market. Lisn features an API that integrates all major mobile carriers of the island, a first in the industry, if we’re not mistaken.

Secondly, they have started building what could be called a transparent platform involving the authors, where an author choosing to feature their work on Lisn would get more return as opposed to the more traditional means (books).

The one downside (as we see) is the use of proprietary file formats for the said audiobooks. Say for instance, you download your favourite Sinhala audiobook via Lisn, you will only be able to play it via the app itself. Although it’s a measure taken against piracy and potential copyright issues, being unable to share something you’ve legitimately purchased on multiple devices could be somewhat frustrating.

Lisn will be launching sometime this week.

Wifyer

Wifyer- a homegrown platform for sharing wifi. Image Credit: Wifyer
Wifyer- a homegrown platform for sharing wifi. Image Credit: Wifyer

Wifyer is an app based startup that aims to combine crowdsourcing and wireless networks. Taking a step further from traditional tethered connections and mobile hotspots, it introduces a monetisation model to the sharing aspect, thus acting as an incentive for more people to share their networks, as long as they have the bandwidth to spare.

On installation, the user gets to log in via either Facebook or Google. Once a selection is made, a landing screen is displayed with options to share your own connection, or connect to a network. As far as the UI goes, we couldn’t help but notice some flaws, especially with regard to the layout and general utilisation of on-screen real-estate.

Wifyer has an Android app out, but it sure would be nice to see an iOS app, or maybe even an app for Windows, which will help take the concept a lot further.

They also partook in the recent TNW Conference in USA, where Wifyer was introduced to tech-enthusiasts and investors from across the world.

Tuk Tuk Network

The TTN landing page.
The TTN landing page.

TTN makes it to this month’s roundup, but not because they’ve come out with an amazing app, or because they’ve added any value to an existing service. No, this if anything works as a reminder of what not to do when launching a company.

When promoting a product it’s one thing to sing praise about what you’re selling, but (given that your moral compass is really broken) resorting to slinging mud at your competition in hopes of bringing them down, is a tactic that is often employed when there’s no hope of going up for yourself. Add to this the blatant plagiarism (TTN has been sharing other people’s content, especially images via their social media, without consent of the owners), the (somewhat) racist undertones and most importantly, the negative reviews Tuk Tuk Network has been receiving from people who have tried to use it, it becomes apparent why they have had to resort to such morally bankrupt means of publicity. We can only hope that Tuk Tuk Network adjusts their ways.

With that we’ve reached the end of the January bundle of startups. With eleven more months left to this year, we can’t wait to find out who else will make it to this list each month.

Happen to know of any startups that you think would fit into next month’s roundup? Do let us know in the comments section below or drop us an email at [email protected]

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