This is the story of a Made-in-India app that gained over a million downloads thanks to the ban on Chinese apps, including camscanner by the government of India. Kaagaz scanner, the app that was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Mann Ki Baat address, is filling the void created by the departure of a much-popular rival camscanner after its ban in the Indian market.
How it all started?
Around a year ago, three friends came together and started building a product in a productivity space called Sorted AI, an AI-powered reminders and tasks app. Snehanshu Gandhi (IIT Bombay and ISB Hyderabad alumni), Tamanjit Singh Bindra (AIT Pune alumni), and Gaurav Shrishrimal (IIT Kanpur alumni), when learned about PM Modi’s call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan and Vocal For Local, they noticed that there is no decent document scanning app available on the app store. They named it “Kaagaz scanner,” as an Indian name felt more appropriate.
Kaagaz’s unexpected growth after camscanner’s ban
When the government of India announced the ban on Chinese apps, including canscanner, users started to hunt for alternate apps, and Kaagaz saw incredible growth in a matter of days. In the first three days, the app saw 200,000 downloads from almost zero. As of now, the app stands at 1.2 million downloads on Google Play Store. 70% of the downloads come from word-of-mouth via WhatsApp forwards and Social Media outreach. Kaagaz became #2 in Productivity on PlayStore within two days of the ban and #11 overall ranking. As of now, the app sees over 70,000 unique users on the app every day. It has been used to scan over 18 million pages so far in just 2.5 months.
Plans for the app
The developers are planning to bring more organizational features to the app to make it more useful. The plan is to include an AI-Powered Document Organizer, a feature missing from the majority of the competitor apps. They are also planning to add custom watermark and regional language options to make it more accessible to the masses.
As of now, Kaagaz is Sorted AI’s primary focus, but they are planning to bring more futuristic products in the market soon. They are building a suite of AI-powered utility tools to manage their day-to-day tasks to make users’ lives easier.
Recognition by PM Modi, education minister and Government entities
Congratulations Snehanshu Gandhi, Gaurav Shrishrimal & Tamanjit Bindra-@IITKanpur‘s alumni for developing ‘Kaagaz Scanner’ – an app that allows iOS/Android devices to be used as image scanners.#VocalForLocal #AatmanirbharBharathttps://t.co/JSvxuRnO5q pic.twitter.com/V1aXDg002M— Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (@DrRPNishank) August 22, 2020
#VocalForLocalTech | The #MadeinIndia ‘Kaagaz Scanner App’ recently received special mention in #AatmaNirbharBharatApp Innovation Challenge. The app can be used to scan documents such as IDs, bills, etc. Other than English, the app also supports Hindi language. pic.twitter.com/fqci6VZ7TE— Digital India (@_DigitalIndia) August 29, 2020
PM mentioned that ‘India is known as a land of innovators’ and further he urged citizens to learn & connect with Apps that won the #AatmaNirbharApp challenge conducted on https://t.co/jaa2zuIvWk. Here are the winning apps in categories like Office, Health & Others. #MannKiBaat pic.twitter.com/czrBvO2Gbo— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) August 30, 2020
Lack of healthy competition and sad attitude of Indian customers towards indigenous apps
In an interview with OpIndia, Shrishrimal said that there are big players in the app market, and most of the time, it gets more challenging for start-ups to compete with them in terms of marketing. As small start-ups lack finances to market their product, most of the time, their apps go un-noticed by the masses even if they are better than the apps developed by big players. Keeping this situation in mind, the ban definitely helped Sorted AI to get noticed by the masses. Still, the team behind Kaagaz believes that there should be a possibility of healthy competition in the market.
The other problem that developers face is the sad attitude of users to try new indigenous apps by Indian start-ups. Even if the app developers claim to have better options, it is not easy to convince the users to give it at least a try and then decide which app is better in functionality and ease-of-use. Shrishrimal said that it is fortunate for the tech industry that the Indian internet market is growing exponentially. Investors are showing the internet in India-made tech products, and with better infrastructure and sharp young minds, the Indian tech industry is catching up with the rest of the world. Now it is up to users to show support for such India-made apps so that they can do better than their global counterparts not only in India but also in the international market.
You can download the app from here.