Hyderabad: Eight years ago, then Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who was also at the head of multiple empowered groups of ministers, was busy at a meeting. His phone rang.
Mukherjee was enraged after answering the call. The caller did not have any important information to share, but she offered the Union finance minister a loan! It was a pesky call from telemarketers.
Similarly, India’s richest person and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani too had admitted he got a call offering him a home loan.
The result of the pesky call to Mukherjee was the creation of ‘Do Not Call Register’ (DND). But the experience over the last eight years suggests that it did not offer any respite. This problem became the foundation for a Hyderabad-based innovative telecom-based start-up firm, Doosra, which provides a virtual phone number that could protect people from tele-callers.
“Doosra means ‘second’ in Hindi. It is a virtual mobile number that a user can share with others without compromising on one's privacy. It is basically a secondary number that keeps your personal number away from unsolicited calls,” said Aditya Vuchi, founder and CEO of Doosra.
Aditya founded the company in May last year after he was asked to furnish his mobile number at the billing desk of a large sporting goods store. Since there was an alternative to the mobile number, he did not complete the purchase.
Doosra is an app-based and subscription-based service. It blocks all calls by default, giving an option to the caller to leave a voice message. If the call was important for the user, he could return the call later on.
If you want to allow certain services like Ola, Uber, Zomato, or Swiggy, the user could mark them as white-list contacts which allow them to call or message you on your Doosra number without being blocked.
When asked about the rationale behind offering the service on the subscription model, Aditya said, “We are clear about our target customers. Privacy is a premium product. And we want to tap the customers who value his or her privacy. Since we don’t want to sell our customer database or depend on advertisements, we opted for the subscription model.”
“There is a great potential for virtual number as it could replace the second SIMs that people have been using for a long time for different purposes. There is a large number of second SIMs in the country, which telecom companies are trying to eliminate. Our basic annual subscription, which works to be Rs59 a month, and the annual PRO subscription that costs Rs 89 a month are more affordable than holding a second SIM,” Aditya said explaining his business model.
Apart from filtering the unsolicited calls, Aditya said people are finding different ways of using the Doosra number. For instance, he said, people wanted to use the Doosra number for Whatsapp, while keeping their main phone number personal. “Our service basically allows you to protect privacy the way you want.”
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