Ever since the government imposed ban on popular Chinese apps in India, content creators have been rushing to homegrown apps that provide similar short-video-making features on their platforms. Trell happens to be one such lifestyle community-commerce platform that has been making its own mark with a massive user base in India. The go-to platform for users to share their experiences, recommendations and reviews across various categories, is breaking all the records by witnessing more than 100 million-plus downloads, and a thriving community of 18 million-plus creators who are gathering more than 10 billion views on their content every month. Pulkit Agrawal, Co-Founder, Trell, in a conversation with Ramesh Kumar Raja, takes you through his journey of building this lifestyle vlogging app and how it is constantly adapting to the users’ consumption behaviour. Excerpts:
Please tell us about the journey of Trell.
At Trell, we keep our community at the core and connect with them regularly to make rapid iterations on the platform to serve them better. Trell was launched in August 2017 as a simple visual blogging platform that enabled users to share meaningful content around their interests and experiences, in their own languages. Over time, Trell became a platform with a very deeply connected community of 100 million-plus users who were sharing and discovering millions of lifestyle videos in the categories like Fashion, Beauty, Recipes, Travel, Gadgets, Movies & TV Reviews etc.
Peer-to-peer recommendations on the platform were becoming a huge hit through which we realised there were millions of KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) who wanted to share their stories with the community without any language barriers. Today, with social commerce, we are enabling these KOLs to make a living, by reviewing and recommending their favourite products and services that users can buy from the platform itself.
Through Trell we are creating a trusted ecosystem for India’s internet users to make suitable and well-informed lifestyle choices.
What are the traction details of Trell and the response so far on Google Play and App Store?
We have more than 100 million-plus downloads on the platform, and a thriving community of 18 million-plus creators who are gathering more than 10 billion views on their content every month.
With a number of homegrown players joining the fray, how do you look at the growing competition in the video space? How are you different from the existing competitors?
Our mission has always been to create an ecosystem that enables the users to enhance their lifestyle while still remaining culturally relevant to the time and age. Trell is not like other platforms that engage their users with 30-second lip-syncing and dancing videos that primarily serve the purpose of entertainment. Trell is a lifestyle community platform where passionate users share their stories and experiences in the form of 3-minute vertical videos, in their own languages, with a like-minded community, across categories like Fashion, Beauty, Recipes, Movies & TV reviews, Travel and Gadgets.
Are your servers capable enough to handle the growing traffic?
Yes, since the pandemic, we’ve seen an overwhelming number of users join our platform and we immediately upgraded our servers to handle the growing traffic. Through constant product and technology updates, we continue to provide the best user experience on the app while adding thousands of users every day.
What are you doing at the value addition front to make your platform more exciting?
The launch of social commerce is definitely the most important addition to our platform this year. Additionally, we also keep adding exciting features to the platform like our own vlogging camera that has helped our creators make videos with ease. The latest feature ‘Reaction Video Maker’ has gained immense popularity and has been widely appreciated in the creator community for being a unique, easy to use feature that is exclusively available on Trell.
Content moderation is an issue of concern for social media platforms. How do you handle it?
We take content moderation very seriously, and it is in fact one of the most important functionalities that we pride ourselves on. We have developed AI/ML algorithms that review every single piece of content that is uploaded on the platform. Our community members also flag any content that does not meet the platform’s standards and the algorithms keep learning and developing further to restrict irrelevant content for the future. We do not tolerate vulgarity, bullying, and negativity in any form in our community and aim to make it a safe environment.
|“We have developed AI/ML algorithms that review every single piece of content that is uploaded on the platform. Our community members also flag any content that does not meet the platform’s standards and the algorithms keep learning and developing further to restrict irrelevant content for the future. We do not tolerate vulgarity, bullying, and negativity in any form in our community and aim to make it a safe environment”|
What efforts are you putting into marketing to make Trell more popular and increase its recall value?
While the marketing strategies keep changing, one thing that has always remained a constant and has been the biggest growth driving factor for us, is prioritizing the community first. Recently, the platform has attracted a lot of well-known creators like Zakhir Khan, Angad Bedi, Meisha Iyer and Macedon, to name a few. We also partnered with Chennai Super Kings for the IPL season which helped us build more visibility and popularity among the cricket fans on the platform who created and shared over 1 million videos for our #CSKMillionStrong campaign.
Do you have any expansion plan to make it global?
We are currently present in over 75% of the country, and in 2021, we will continue to expand our Indian community. We are actively working towards giving our users more personalized content based on their diverse interests and create an exceptional shopping experience for them on the platform. Once we establish ourselves in every corner of the country, we will think about going global.
Please tell us about the funds you are raising and how they are going to help your business model?
Trell has raised a total of $16.95 million after a Series A infusion of $11.4 million from some very well known investors and industry experts like KTB Network, Samsung Ventures, Sequoia’s Surge, Fosun RZ Capital, LetsVenture, WEH Ventures, Sprout Ventures, and Beenext.
The funds have been helping us to develop state of the art technology, and in the expansion of community and adding incredible talent to our team.
Since short video platforms have emerged as a big marketing tool, are you also looking for corporate clients to increase your source of revenue?
Brands come to Trell for its differentiated content offerings which include influencer-led solutions, brand engagement, Trell IPs and shoppable videos. Trell has seen a 3X growth in the number of clients and a 5X growth in revenue in the recent past. Vi, Tinder, Dominos, POCO, are few of the brands that are active on the platform.
How are the content creators able to generate revenue through the app?
KOLs on Trell are extremely well-versed with the cultural diversity of their regions and are experts in their fields. Their popularity in the community helps them collaborate with relevant brands to share experiences, reviews and recommendations of products with their followers in their native languages. This allows users to make well-informed lifestyle decisions and they can buy these products from within the platform. Whenever a purchase happens on the platform, the KOLs earn a certain percentage of sales, through which they can generate revenue on the platform consistently. There are creators who are earning up to 25 lakhs a year from this program on Trell today.
|“KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) on Trell are extremely well-versed with the cultural diversity of their regions and are experts in their fields. Their popularity in the community helps them collaborate with relevant brands to share experiences, reviews and recommendations of products with their followers in their native languages. This allows users to make well-informed lifestyle decisions and they can buy these products from within the platform”|
How do the content creators connect with brands willing to promote their products on the platform?
Today for every brand, influencer marketing is one of the major channels through which they look to gain brand visibility on the internet. Trell acts as a curated marketplace between brands, KOLs and their potential customers. Brands that get listed on Trell have the ability to penetrate deeper into the Indian market through collaborations with KOLs, across languages. Some of the recent collaborations were with brands like Tinder, POCO, Vi, Plum, Dr Vaidyas, The Man Company, to name a few.
What Trell is doing to ensure the security of data in India?
Data security has been of the highest importance to us since the beginning. We follow industry best practices to protect user data such as ensuring that data is encrypted and also go through independent security audits of our infrastructure on a regular basis.