The story of how 2 engineers got 12+ Million people hooked to trivia
I felt a rush of emotions the first time I played HQ Trivia on my mobile phone and at that very moment I knew I was holding in my hands an app that would blow up the entertainment industry. The only difference between a Kaun Banega Crorepati and this was that I was a part of the game! I was in the Hot Seat without even trying!
It was around this time that I was reading Nir Eyal’s ‘Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products’. For those of you who haven’t read it, the book delves into the psychology of building addictive products. So, whenever my friends and I had an idea, we’d go back to the book and use his hypothesis to validate our idea. When we decided to build Loco (then called Showtime), we made sure it was armed with the four habit-forming product features Nir mentions in the book: trigger, perform an action, variable reward and commitment to the product.
Here’s how Loco fared on each of these parameters:
1. Trigger: For Loco, the overarching trigger was the nostalgia of playing KBC. App notifications form external triggers, and FOMO for players become the internal triggers.
2. Perform An Action: The players are busy and involved as the game requires constant interaction for them to keep playing.
3. Variable Reward: Instant cash payouts! Players are rewarded for their efforts by winning cash prizes after every single game.
4. Commitment To The Product: People are hooked to playing these quizzes and it forms an important part of their daily routine, because it’s short, quick and perfect for the millennial generation.
But this wasn’t enough for us. Our aim was simple: Build For India. Taking off from the fact that the smartphone is the new television, we wanted to build an app that would encourage family and friends to come together and spend quality time together, just as KBC did. This inspired us to bring in more Indian-centric content (which would work across all age groups and demographics) and start with a Hinglish-speaking host.
Chetan Dhembre (co-founder of Loco) and I built a very basic, text-based quiz app, that rewarded players with cash prizes if they answered all 10 questions correctly. We managed to get the product ready within a week and initially shared it with our friends. They seemed really excited about it but we also needed validation from someone who wasn’t part of our social circle. So our friends started referring the app within their circles and in just a week, we had more than 150 registered players. This was the moment! The excitement was real, the players were real and they wanted to play something new, and a live game experience with thousands of others had them hooked!
We now had the confidence to push the app on the Google Play Store. With 10–20% week-on-week growth, we knew that it was here to stay!
We worked very hard to make sure we hadn’t built something that was just a fad. Chetan took ownership of the tech decisions, which allowed me to concentrate on content, growth, and other product decisions. Our user base grew steadily and we quickly found ourselves on ProductHunt on the 18th December 2017.
At this point, we required a studio space and we converted my living room/bachelor pad into one. All it took was some green cloth, aluminium foil, LED and CFL lights, an iMac’s camera and voila, we were live!
The very first day saw more than 500 live players and in a week’s time, we doubled that number! We predicted some challenges including the need to scale our tech to match our ever increasing numbers. We ensured our games ran consistently at 1:30PM and 10PM every single day. We even organised 2 games, one at 8PM and the other at 10PM on 31st December. So when the rest of the world was out partying, we were testing our new architecture to support 1,000 concurrent players!
Slowly we began marketing the app beyond our circles and banked on the power of social media. The app quickly grew to 2,500 concurrent players and the next thing we knew, Xiaomi featured us on their store. We jumped to a whopping 10,000 registered players overnight! It was a surreal feeling — a concept that was just in our heads actualising into this, right in front of our eyes!
The jump to 10,000 players in one day was unexpected and we weren’t prepared for it but that did not stop us. We began scaling our app to support the influx of new players and we knew it wouldn’t just stop there. Word spread like wildfire and before we knew it, Pocket Aces had found us.
We, the engineers that built something out of our own living rooms, finally saw our start-up dream come true. We were here, and we had made it! Pocket Aces’ acquisition came to us at the perfect time. We then called Gaurav Kapur (our dreamhost) and got him on board and the rest, as they say, is history!
Showtime was renamed to Loco. Within less than 6 months, we got 10 million registered players on the app. We have 5 other hosts along with Gaurav Kapur today. We are available in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and Marathi. We started with 1 game but today we have 6 new games and we run 27 live games a week. And believe us when we say, this is just the beginning. Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!
To win cash daily, play Loco! Download the app now.