How the TEAM got together – by Snehal Gersappa and Ashwin Datye
After extensive research on behavior patterns of users of social media apps, I was convinced that most of the problems they face, especially those in relation to online privacy, would be solved by Zlen. Next, the bigger challenge had to be tackled – The Execution of the Idea.
“Who will develop such an application? Where can I find a team? Where will the money come from to fund such a project?”
Since I did not have a tech background, I started reaching out to friends and known contacts from the industry. Initially, I outsourced the application development to an agency that made a prototype of the application with the UI designs and features that I had in mind (I actually designed the entire UI on a PPT and a few part-time developers created this prototype). After this, I started showing this prototype to all my known contacts in the tech industry in order to get feedback that would help me improve the app. Most of them felt that it would be impossible to build such an application and compete with existing social media and messaging applications.
That’s when I met Ashwin Datye – our Co-founder and CTO. With more than 21 years of experience, Ashwin is a stalwart in the tech industry and has been the CTO of various organizations in past. He was the only person who said – without hesitation – that the idea would work and he recognized it as one that would make a lot of people’s online lives easier.
Later on, along with an acquaintance of mine – Hasmukh Parekh – we began building a team. Initially there were just 5 of us, with Java architecture being led by Mahendra Kale, Android being handled by Arvind Shelke & iOS by Chetan Shinde under leadership of Ashwin. Our small team dedicated several days and nights to make this project successful. Even during tough times like COVID, the team would work remotely throughout the day. Today, as the application is ready for launch, we are opening our doors to young talent to join us and be a part of Zlen to make it a truly world class application, completely made in India! Even when our application is still in its’ Beta stage, we are being approached by HNI’s & institutional investors to take Zlen to the next level! It is an absolute delight to see how our dream is getting closer to reality! We shall be launching it to users by August 2021.
The day I met Snehal for the first time and heard about the vision and idea behind Zlen, I was immediately sold. At that point, I had already stopped using certain social media apps because of privacy and addiction concerns, but I was also irritated by the fact that my doodhwala (milkman) – among other people – could see my status updates on other apps I still used simply because he knew my phone number. I spoke about it to a few of my relatives and asked them they were bothered by the fact that anyone in the world could potentially see their pictures of weddings, kids, Goa vacations and birthday parties on social media. Their response was that although they knew this and wished it was not so, they still wished to be in touch with and share their experiences with their loved ones – and these social networking apps seemed like the only way to do it. They felt that there was really no other better alternative. And that’s where Zlen fits the gap in my opinion. Exclusive, private, yet still social – that truly defines Zlen!
I am an ‘old-timer’ in the Indian Software development scene. For decades I have worked on softwares made for Insurance companies, Banks, Hospitals, e-Commerce and so on, but never on such a ‘fun+privacy’ oriented Social Media App. It’s perhaps the first time I feel that I am myself a true customer of an app I have helped to develop. I am lucky to work with a team of professionals like Snehal, Hasmukh, Mahendra, Chetan, Omkar and Arvind because they bring knowledge, skills, energy and discipline to software development.
I am proud to be a part of the Zlen journey. I hope that millions more in this world will come to love Zlen the way we do.