Hike, a homegrown social unicorn startup is betting big on mobile-first virtual world and rolled out a new product on Wednesday called HikeLand.
Founded in 2012, Hike was built initially as a messaging platform and then decided to move towards building a super-app. However last year Hike unbundled itself, to focus on its chat experience and launched Hike Sticker Chat.
Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and chief executive officer, said Hike is now rolling with the belief that only messaging and traditional feed like platform offer a decade-old user experience and now the users need something more.
Keeping this mind, the team at Hike has gone back to the drawing board to experiment with a completely different UX for its product.
"With advancements in technology, so much is possible today that wasn’t even just a few years ago. The world has evolved, it’s time for social products to as well. With HikeLand, we’re launching the world’s first mobile-first Virtual World. A brand new take on how people can hangout online, transcending beyond the limitations of the offline world," said Kavin.
As part of its early preview, HikeLand is introducing two shared experiences for users, Home and 'Big Screen. Hike is essentially allowing users to have 'sim-city' like experience, that goes beyond just building virtual world but actually interacting with their community of friends, in an innovative way.
"Home is your very own private space online where you can hang out with your favourite people just like you would in real life. Second, Big Screen, a place that brings together people around the content they love," Kavin added.
Basically, think of ‘Home’ as the user’s own private space in the larger ecosystem called HikeLand. This is where users can virtually hang out with their closest friends and watch videos together. When we say together, we mean in complete sync. So if a user starts a video in their ‘home’, their friend can simultaneously watch the same video on their device.
Taking that a step further is the 'Big Screen' experience on the app that aims to bring users with similar content interests together. This is built as a virtual theatre where users can meet people outside their community and even make new connections.
To start with Hike's Big Screen is currently powered by YouTube but the eventual plan is rope in players like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar to expand the scope of this feature. One can also initiate a voice-call via Hike and interact in real time, just like they would in the offline world.
Hike claims to keep user privacy on top of its priority list. The product is designed and built in a way where no one can enter a Home in HikeLand without the user's invitation.
The company is now working on enhancing this with multiple experiences planned in the near future. Users can update to the latest version to get on HikeLand starting today on both Android and iOS. With the early preview rolled out, the platform will be co-created rapidly with feedback and insights from the Hike community.
Hike became the 10th Indian startup to be valued at over $1 billion in August 2016 and has so far raised over $261 million from a clutch of investors such as SoftBank, Tiger Global, Tencent, Foxconn and Bharti to name a few.
First Published: IST