There is a new kid on the block in the social media space called ChekMarc, which claims to be fundamentally different. Designed as a humane technology platform, ChekMarc lets people all over the world connect one-on-one in a safer and secure manner that reduces bias, judgment, bullying and negativity. Whether it’s how to get started in a career field or start a business, how to improve your leadership skills or find the right plan to achieve a fitness goal, or how to open a restaurant or even write your first book – ChekMarc provides a platform to connect with someone that can help. It is currently available in over 35 languages on both iOS and Android. To know more about this platform, its value proposition and strategy for the India market where it was launched recently, Ramesh Kumar Raja talked to Vrinda Johnson, Co-Founder and Chief of Strategy and Operations at ChekMarc. Excerpts:
The social media landscape has changed incredibly, albeit sparking some uneasy controversies in the recent past. So, what has inspired you to come up with a networking platform?
Digitization of communication is such a powerful development and has broken down barriers to communication – even major barriers like geography and language. Unfortunately, it has also created this ability for unsolicited and unwanted negative commentary and has taken away the basic power of digital communication to connect people.
On the other hand, social platforms have the incredible ability to allow people to not only communicate but also do good and help each other. This, too, has been lost in the current landscape.
This was our inspiration for ChekMarc – to create a platform where people can truly help each other, without barriers and biases; and to bring back the power of digital communication and connection.
Facebook and Twitter are giants controlling and manipulating the day-to-day trends. How prepared you are to earn a name in the social networking field?
Our value proposition is simple: to provide a platform where people can connect in a private, positive and safer way, to help each other achieve something. Not only are we prepared, but we are confident that this value, although simple, is strong and will continue to resonate with people in the powerful way we have already seen it resonate.
Features such as connecting with people and interactions within groups are already available on other platforms. What value does ChekMarc add to make it different from others?
ChekMarc is fundamentally different, we are a platform with a purpose– what we do is different, how we do it is different and why we do it is different. We are a social platform that connects people where we can help each other achieve something impactful in life, and are global. We enable this connection privately, one on one where members have to agree to connect, and conversations between members are private. We enforce heavy content moderation to ensure positivity of communication and have strict guidelines that guide our members. We do all of this, with the simplest goal in mind which is creating a platform that enables the power of human connection to help push each other forward – globally, without trolls, positively and sincerely.
Smartphone is the ubiquitous tool now to be on networking platforms anytime anywhere. What will be the USP of ChekMarc that may retain its users?
This brings me back to ChekMarc’s value proposition. Yes, we have a robust app available on both iOS and Android operating systems, but the value proposition is more important. Our platform is where members, not users, will have a purposeful interaction. We will be successful when we see that members opt to go back often because of the fact that they are helping others and/or receiving guidance on something they are trying to accomplish. We are not attempting to create an addiction – and therefore do not see our members as users. We are creating a purposeful interaction with the platform, and that purpose is created by achievement.
How will you decide content on ChekMarc? Will it be based on data you collect from users?
The content on our platform is member generated and member driven – we put the power in the hands of our members. This is again, fundamental to how ChekMarc is built and how the platform works. Members post requests about their goals, they create and share their profiles to show their interests and expertise, and share success stories when they make a connection that helps them. That said, in order to maintain the spirit of ChekMarc and positive discussions, we have built in AI driven content moderation that prevents any negative content which could be seen as cyber bullying or create a toxic environment. Our focus is on connecting people to achieve goals, and to maintain a positive and supportive interaction in our community.
|“The content on our platform is member generated and member driven – we put the power in the hands of our members. This is again, fundamental to how ChekMarc is built and how the platform works. Members post requests about their goals, they create and share their profiles to show their interests and expertise, and share success stories when they make a connection that helps them”|
How do you look at India as a market for you and what are your expectations?
The Indian market is important for us on multiple levels. I grew up in Mumbai, my lead engineer also grew up there – and we have some very personal ties to the country. We see this as an opportunity to bring access to information, guidance, and help to a large population of people that may have never had it before. Our hope is that by creating this access, we want ChekMarc to open doors for people that they didn’t know existed. We see the Indian market as a strong supporter for us, and cannot wait to see how ChekMarc takes off.
What will be your business model over here?
Our business model is very simple, and it doesn’t change based on market or geography. We want to continue to build the platform based on what our community tells us, and over time there may be opportunities to bring specific features but we truly believe in creating equal access and opportunity.
Data security is the talk of the town, especially in the wake of recent data breaches on certain platforms. What steps are you taking towards maintaining privacy?
Privacy has been a big focus for us, and we have a fairly robust security set up and team, which allows heightened security for our members. We are also proud to say that we are GDPR compliant – although this is primarily applicable in the EU, the regulation behind GDPR is extremely stringent with requirements that can be applied to multiple regions across the world.
Considering Indians’ love for mobile and apps, do you have any plan to set up an office in India?
Our goal is to keep ChekMarc a 100% virtual organization – which is what we are today. Our team is located across the US, and ironically has never even met in person! We have built this business in a virtual world and in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions/lockdowns. Our partners are located globally across India, Europe and the US and we have built a powerful virtual machine of an organization.
As far as I am concerned, we already have a virtual ‘office’ in India and the doors will always be open!
|“Unlike any other platform that exists today, we at the outset already have built-in features like content moderation (not allowing derogatory, harmful, hateful or any other form of toxic/inappropriate content), identity verification (where members can certify their identity if they choose) and strict data privacy. Meaning, the features are part of our value proposition and not something we are adding in as an afterthought like a lot of other platforms”|
What’s your opinion about the Government of India’s recent curbs on social media platforms? How will you ensure the rules are not broken?
What is most interesting about the recent mandate from the Indian government, is that it is as if we built ChekMarc with some of their requirements in mind. Unlike any other platform that exists today, we at the outset already have built-in features like content moderation (not allowing derogatory, harmful, hateful or any other form of toxic/inappropriate content), identity verification (where members can certify their identity if they choose) and strict data privacy. Meaning, the features are part of our value proposition and not something we are adding in as an afterthought like a lot of other platforms.
Our Data and Privacy compliance is also built in such a way that members have the ultimate control over their own data, can manage/delete/request any of their activity at any time. We do not sell our members data – therefore there is no fear of data breaches or unwanted/unnecessary ads or promotions. Members decide which data and information is private and which is public – they have the ability to manage and control their information.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Indian government and the Indian market should rest assured – they should see this as a platform that indeed brings everything they are looking for, and so much more!