hoppr banks on being device-agnostic location-based service

The Indian location-based service platform runs on a variety of channels including SMS, and believes its offline connect capability with merchants will help it become a unique hyper local commerce platform.

hoppr, launched in May last year, claims to be the world's only device-agnostic location-based check-in and rewards service.

Using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), SMS, and a mobile app, it allows customers discover one's neighborhood, check-in into places for specials and rewards. hoppr recently crossed 85 million check-ins in less than a year, with over 1 million active users.

Mohammed Imthiaz at hoppr's HQ in Gurgaon, India

I met Mohammed Imthiaz, the founder and CEO of hoppr, who told me about how the service will contribute to the growth of location-based services in India as it was created keeping in mind the Indian mobile ecosystem, thereby being device-agnostic.

hoppr reaches out to a bigger consumer base due to its easy accessibility on feature phones --still the majority for now despite the growth of smartphones.  

Its mobile device-agnostic nature of the service along with offline connect with merchants gives rise to a hyper local commerce platform that benefits users, telcos and brands together by bringing together their online and offline worlds.

Imthiaz insists the service is no Foursquare clone as many, including me, wonder.

One, it is not limited to smartphones. And secondly, hoppr is making a huge investment in merchant relationships and evangelizing its capability.

"hoppr was conceived in a bid to connect the online and offline worlds of consumers and businesses. And that requires feeding on the street. Our sales guys meet about 400 merchants a day. We train the staff at merchant partners, integrate with their POS systems, and work very closely with them," Imthiaz explained, adding that they have over 10,000 merchants across major cities on hoppr already.

hoppr is available on seven leading telecom operators in India: Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Idea, Reliance, Tata Docomo and Vodafone. The service reaches out to over 90 percent of the entire Indian mobile population. "Considering voice is ubiquitous, we are number two as a service availability on mobile phones," Imthiaz said.

While most would perceive the service to be of consumer interest, hoppr's focus is B2B with merchants and telecom operators while serving the former. Currently, hoppr does not charge merchants to offer rewards on the service, however some commercial features like promotions, loyalty programs, and data mining could come through.

Imthiaz talked about how location was a powerful information of relevance and while every brand wants to "do something mobile ", how of the equation was not answered as yet. "We tapped on USSD and SMS--the emerging markets' Internet. We started at the bottom of the pyramid and now our Android app is out while iOS one is in the works".

Responding to my worry if the mobile apps would bring a fragmentation to the service in terms of capability, Imthiaz said: "The core of the service remains same. Check-in, and earn rewards and points, in less than 30 seconds."