India Can Make Globally Competitive Tech Products, Says Phaneesh Gururaj, Chief Technology Officer at Koo
English is the most widely spoken language in the world, but 75 percent of the world’s population speaks languages other than English. In India, with a population of 1.38 billion, English is not the primary language of nearly a billion people.
This established the social and business premise of Bengaluru-based Koo, the very first local microblogging platform in India. At the largest startup conference in India TechSparks 2021, Phaneesh Gururaj, technical manager at Koo, shared what it means to create a social product for a diverse audience.
Enable large-scale expression
Phaneesh said language is a barrier as many people are comfortable expressing their thoughts and experience in their native language.
In India, which has 23 official languages, users cannot take full advantage of the platforms as they were designed for the English-speaking audience.
“Koo as a product exists at this point because we want to allow expression of India at large,” he said, during a masterclass session on “Building the very first platform microblogging from India “.
Phaneesh said the platform is now focused on creating various language models suitable for native and vernacular languages, which can be translated and transliterated in the backend to understand the overall sentiment behind a post – which will allow people speaking different languages to connect.
“As we get the right playbook, we can extend the platform to non-English speakers as well,” he added.
Engagement on the platform
The factors determining what a user sees on their feed are the timeline of the user’s connection to the platform, freshness, relevance, first-degree network, feedback via comments, and likes.
“For example, for someone interested in sports more than politics, Koo would show older sports content rather than new political content. There should be a real-time personalized feed for users, ”he explained.
Koo’s entity recognition also helps extract content based on important terms and trends. The platform has built its own language models to understand named entity recognition (NER).
For people creating content and consumers on the other hand, it ensures a strong network to gain traction and constant user satisfaction. However, while solving a billion Indians in the lead, it emphasizes a strong security system and data protection.
With 10 million users continuously generating content in the form of audio, video and text, it enables search capabilities by leveraging machine learning and natural language processing (NLP).
“We have to be very good at capturing a user’s journey on the platform. There are huge volumes of analytics and we’ve built a data platform that ingests that data, ”he said, adding that the algorithm continues to evolve as users interact. .
Phaneesh added that platforms like Koo show that competitive global technology products can be developed from India.
“We have adopted many products from the western world and the Indian people use these products on a daily basis, but we can actually create world class products for ourselves, keeping the needs of Indians in mind,” he added. .
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