Actor Sonu Sood wants to ‘get people hooked in a good way’ with his social media app Explurger
Actor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Sonu Sood recently launched his travel-based social media platform Explurger, calling it a made in India app for the world. It offers features such as automatic travel diary, bucket list, future travel plans, location ratings, rewards and more as it leverages never-before-seen social media gamification with artificial intelligence integrated. With this – Co-Founder Sood and Founder Jitin Bhatia, a seasoned IT professional who has developed several apps for the government, talks to Business prospects on what sets their platform apart, how the free app will make money, and the way forward. Edited excerpts:
You (Sood) have developed other apps related to blue-collar jobs and rural travel (Pravasi Rojgar and Travel Union), dabbling in technology yourself as an electronics engineer. Why social networks?
Sonu Sood– We’re all on social media and spend a lot of our time there, but we’ve always wanted a platform that lets us do things that other social media platforms don’t. If you spend time on it, what do you get out of it? We all worked really hard to create this much needed world that had a lot of things that other social media platforms lacked. The travel diary, for example. When you’re on Explurger and post about your travels, it creates a travel diary and every mile counts. When you accumulate miles, you start growing on the platform and get rewards with which you can benefit from many discounts. We also create more benefits.
Jitin Bhatia – We have also introduced the concept of gamification where every time you get engagement on your post you gain accounts and based on this your level increases which also unlocks more rewards. We have created a social media application for travelers with the concept of gamification with integrated artificial intelligence. The intention is to give back benefits to users. If they commit and spend time here, they should get something in return.
The social media space is already dominated by big players like Meta, Twitter, TikTok, etc. with people hooked to these platforms. Why would a user switch to Exprurge?
Jitin Bhatia – Product, product and product. If our product is good, we will have users. Over the past few months we have seen how people have joined our app. On the beta version of our app itself, we had around 5,000,000 people from over 40 countries and that too organically. We hadn’t started advertising it because it hadn’t launched, but we got love and support from people outside the country when they didn’t even know it was going to happen. was an Indian app. They come there because of its features and the product itself which is our core. There are many platforms but all these platforms coexist with each other. Until and unless you provide basic functionality or differentiators, you cannot survive. Facebook came as a generalized social media app, Instagram came as the first photo-specific platform and is now famous for reels, TikTok came with short video format, Twitter is for news and news and Reddit has a completely different flavor. There was a big void for social media apps for travelers. We are the only global social media platform for travellers. I think we can coexist with everyone.
Sonu Sood – We’ve always thought about what happens when people join a social media platform – how long you can engage them and how excited it is to stay there – because there are so many diversions. When we started the Explurge journey, that was the first thing in mind – how we need to get people addicted in a good way.
What is your business model? How will this differ from, say, Meta or Twitter?
Jitin Bhatia– We have five monetization goals that we will start working on over the next six to seven months. In 12 months, we will have a real monetization plan. Everything is free for users and monetization will come from the brands and other models we create. Online advertising is one, but because we have a niche audience, we can look at many more. Rewards for users for their social activity is a key differentiator. The rewards we will be offering is one of our models going forward and we have a revenue link with the brands. We try to connect with some of the biggest airlines in the world as well as some global brands. We have already established links with more than 40 brands and we are trying to get the big brands in the country. Sonu has been associated with many of them. We have also created a team to look at brands outside as we have users there as well. Affiliate marketing is another model and we are looking at three or four other models.
In terms of advertising, we have seen what happened with Facebook and how data was shared with third parties. How will you approach your advertising model?
Jitin Bhatia – We are very particular about it. Data security and privacy are paramount to us and we want to stick to it. We do not share user data in any way because it is very confidential. We have servers all over the world. Indian user data will be stored on Indian servers and US data is stored in the US and shared via cloud. We put measures in it and we want to make sure that it is a safe platform for all our users. The days of selling data are over and nobody does it anymore because there are many restrictions even from brands like Apple and Google. We came with the pure intention of giving something back to users and that’s what we’re going to do.
What type of investment was made? Do you have other investors on board?
Jitin Bhatia – In October 2021, we did our pre-series round and raised $1 million from platforms like LetsVenture and lead investors like Jaipuria Group. We had a nice handful of investors in the round while my co-founder’s name wasn’t even announced and we were able to raise money purely on the merit of the product. A lot of our sweat and money went into it in the first two and a half years as well. Three months ago Google recognized us and included us in a bucket of top 100 start-ups in India and two weeks ago our name was in the top 30 start-ups list. We are the only social media app on this list and they offer full mentorship to our tech team with some of their top technocrats guiding us. Getting recognition from investors as well as technology companies is very encouraging.
What is your growth objective for the next 12 months?
Sonu Sood – You name a brand and we are in talks with them and want them on board. Sky is the limit when it comes to the experience that can be offered to users. We always say Explurger won’t just be an app, it will be a guide and a friend that tells you what to do and where to do things.
Jitin Bhatia – There are currently 4 billion users on social networks across the world and around 3 billion share their travel photos while on the go. It’s the target market and the reach. We are the only player in this field and there is no direct competition. Now the whole goal is to acquire users and make it a really big and really global app.