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Cross-platform messaging App

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ajit Patel is the CEO and Founder of n-gage. He began his entrepreneurial journey in the UK with a degree in Pharmacy. Earlier this year, Ajit launched n-gage, a comprehensive feature packed messenger, focused on the privacy of the user and their messages. It is a new breed of messenger, with features that will make sending messages more fun and expressive regardless of whether the user has a smartphone.

In conversation with Dominic Rebello, Ajit, who draws inspiration from influencers such as Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and even the Hollywood fictional character Yoda to build businesses nd understand people, speaks about his comprehensive feature packed messenger n-gage

Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey right from the beginning. What is your greatest strength that overpowers challenges which are part of an entrepreneur’s life?
“What do you know about technology? Are you sure you know what you are doing?” These are the questions I’m often confronted with. It’s true, what do I really know about technology? Not much to be honest. I’m a Pharmacist. But I’m also a great believer that having the right attitude, working hard for what you want, and not taking No for an answer gets you over hurdles.  It is this attitude that has got me through my entrepreneurial journey so far. As an entrepreneur, I have experienced a lot of highs and lows along the way. My first pharmacy business in London, a printing business, Goldshield going public on the London Stock Exchange, and my hotel business in Goa are my milestones. Through this journey, I have won several accolades, including being honoured with the Omnicomm British Young Entrepreneur award in 2000. However, these achievements would not have been possible without each business venture teaching me something significant.

How did you get your idea or concept for the technology business?
Technology is everywhere today. I wanted to create a space where people could exchange ideas, and have discussions about anything from their lifestyle interests or health concerns. It was at this point that I noticed people were naturally migrating into the Chat App space.  After researching the current trends that were available in the market, we developed our product.

Today we have a super product with features that are not available in most of the chat apps. Ours is the first and only app till date to break the platform barrier and allow cross-platform messaging. By cross-platform, I mean giving the user the ability to send messages from n-gage to their friends on WhatsApp, Hike, or other social platforms. In addition, we have developed features that helps users keep their content safe and secure.

What encouraged you to develop this app? How it ensures users’ privacy?
We started off n-gage as a communication site to connect people living with health problems around the globe to share their experiences with each other.  Further, this developed into a messaging application, which encourages users to be playful, and bring out their emotions in the way they are intended to appear. With advanced and personalized features, we have eradicated the current scenario where our emotions are diluted when we message our family or friends.
The focus on privacy arose from the increasing social media horror stories that we often hear about. Classic examples include sending a message that you later regret, or the receiver sharing personal messages that were only meant for them in the public domain.

What are the special features of n-gage?  
n-gage has a whole host of unique privacy and fun features to help users bring out their playful side, and maintain their privacy whilst messaging. With more than 15 privacy features, users can keep their messages safe. For instance, you can escape those embarrassing moments where you have messaged someone by mistake by using ‘Extract.’ Extract lets you take back messages from the receiver’s end. ‘Safe Chat’ allows you to send password protected messages, so your messages are read by the intended person.  To add a layer of security at your end, with ‘Safe App’ you can either add a password to access n-gage, or for total privacy, make the app invisible on your device.   

To avoid having your messages copied, or forwarded to other people, features ’Stop Screenshot’ and ‘Stop Copy/ Forward/ Share’ enables you to prevent the receiver from taking your messages and sharing it. It is these types of safety and privacy tools, which make n-gage special.

What is the USP of your app?
The most important USP of our product is its compact size and the amount of features that it has.  Studies have revealed that an average user has about 4/5 apps on their device, all serving a different purpose. With our app, there is no need to download a variety of apps. Everything you want is all wrapped in n-gage. With n-gage, users can maintain privacy, bring out their playful side, and transform their own and the lives of others. In addition, we also have a unique cross platform functionality, which allows users to message family and friends, regardless of whether they have n-gage. To reward our users, we have now launched the N-Gage Champions Program, where users will be able to collect N-Gage Loyalty Points, which are equivalent to n-gage shares. This is an opportunity for me to reward users, by sharing the success of n-gage with them.  

You said, you have launched N-gage Champions Program for users and will give shares. Can you enlighten us more on this?
I believe that it is the users who make an app successful, as they recommend the product to their family and friends. For their efforts, these users do not receive anything more than the use of a good product. I want to change that. I want to share the success of n-gage with users. Therefore, I have launched the N-Gage Champions Program. In return for the users’ efforts in making n-gage a success, this program aims to share n-gage equity with our users.

We have issued out 1111 million shares out of which 250 million shares have been reserved for the benefit of our users. These shares are owned by Wemet Loyalty Company, who has an agreement with n-gage, whereby n-gage users will be able to exchange their N-Gage Loyalty Points for either n-gage shares, or its value when n-gage is sold, or publicly listed on the London Stock Exchange. My aim is to have n-gage listed on the London Stock Exchange by 2020.

India is the first out of 50 countries to be allocated with over 60 million shares. The first one million Indian users to register onto n-gage, and join the N-Gage Champions Program will automatically be credited 20 N-Gage Loyalty Points. The N-Gage Champions will be able to collect more NLPs for every friend they bring onto n-gage.

How big is the market for your product?
Technology as well as consumers are evolving. India is still at a very nascent stage compared to countries like China and US, where internet penetration is very high. In India, the total penetration is around 35% of its population. The smart phone users in India are estimated to grow to 2.7 billion by 2019 with more and more people going in for 4G connections, there will be a huge demand for our product.  As we move into the digital space, and messaging apps are becoming the primary form for communication, the issue of privacy becomes prevalent. This is where n-gage becomes attractive for people with its privacy features.

To what do you attribute your success?
I always follow my passion and put more than 100% in whatever I do. But I also believe in one thing very strongly that even if you have the vision, execution is also very important. There is no point in having a big strategy, if implementation fails. You should have like-minded people who will understand your vision and will give 100% to achieve the same.

What are your future plans and ambitions?
The future for n-gage is very clear. I want to make n-gage the best and most comprehensive feature packed messenger with a focus on messages that are fun, expressive, yet private and safe. In addition, we want to create a family of n-gage applications which will develop into an ecosystem. Each app will enhance the current features of n-gage to attract different audiences; however they will all share a commonality- the apps will talk to each other. In other words, if a user has downloaded n-gage and their friend has downloaded an app that belongs to the n-gage family. These two friends will be able to talk to each other without the need to download the other app. Production for this has already started.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Follow your passion and adopt the ‘KISS’ principle – to Keep It Simple and Stupid. In the years that I have been doing business, I have noticed that every company tries to do something clever- whether they are developing a product, or marketing it. Everyone wants to make an impact, including myself. But through the years as an entrepreneur, I have learnt that simple actions can have a BIG impact.

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