Our friendship began in a Chinese language class 15 years ago. We are both people who seek new adventures and find thrill in uncharted terrain. For us, experiencing a country is not just about seeing the main city, but also about living with the locals, experiencing their culture, and seeing all kinds of lives.
After our China trip, when we reconnected a few years later, we began to bounce the idea behind Brandie, a platform where people could share pictures related to ‘brands’ on their social media, and earn rewards for their word-of-mouth recommendations. However, before we embarked on this new adventure together, we thought of visiting Pranav’s family in Rajahmundry, India, and pulling the pilot of Brandie in the world’s largest market.
Everyone was very skeptical about what we were about to do since not even Zomato had entered Rajahmundry then. But, the challenge gave us even more thrill. We hired motorcycles and went around town looking to onboard brands. After two weeks of hard work, we onboarded ten eateries. Our next task was to deliver word-of-mouth to these partners. For this, we connected with local colleges, and gave guest lectures at 40-degree Celsius in halls without air-conditioning, sweating like two Swedes are expected to sweat. Not sure if it was our keynote, or the catchphrase, ‘you can get free molten brownies for using social media,’ but it worked! Bakeries were running out of stock, our servers crashed, and we saw queues in front of our partner outlets.
After just 21 days, we had over 3,900 people sharing 15,000+ images that reached over a total of 3.9 million impressions with 402 thousand likes on the content, all through student recommendations.
People make places, and Rajahmundry is that and more. The town gave us more in our quest to experience India and its culture. It allowed us to pilot our app, conduct our market research, and meet people that have forever left a mark in our hearts. Rajahmundry brought us close to our clients and customers, and showed us the tool’s actual response and usage. It challenged us more than the most prominent clients we have onboarded. It made us find new ways, better ways to deal with problems. It taught us that everything can be fixed without fixed ideas and that sometimes, we need to take a step back to move forward.