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Things I learnt while Driving Goa’s Largest Crowdsource Campaign during Demonetization

Things I learnt while Driving Goa’s Largest Crowdsource Campaign during Demonetization

Even though 99.999 people are already aware of demonetization trend in India, for the 0.001% of share — Demonetization was a Modi-driven whiplash to witness growth of New Digital Economy in India. It was a time to say ‘adieu’ to 500 and 1000 notes. RBI launched the new 2000/- and 500/- notes which gained so much of popularity that people engineered not just the design but even a teardown.

As many as trillions of Jokes and MIMEs were floated across the social media channels. In fact, Indian Express has a list of best picks but to me the best one so far has been:

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

Jokes apart, but in reality Jitters were seen right from Common man to the Top notch business leaders. The Queue at the ATMs increased drastically. People started to find it harder to spot ATMs with cash and that’s where the idea was born — Making a datasheet for people, by the people. Sunday afternoon, this idea striked me and made up a simple data sheet (tinyurl.com/atmgoa) to help people locate the ATMs. The sheet was initially kept editable for people to contribute. Ofcourse, at this point a lot of companies such as cashnocash.com took right approach to promote and help people. Not just that, but the cash limit / day was another factor which fuled this idea because having a limit meant that people could only withdraw with a guarantee that the person would have to return to the bank in 3–4 days of time (or fewer)

‘Let’s build an App’ is NOT always a right feeling!

Handful of people, after the sheet was launched asked me: “Why not a web app or android app for this?” — My first reaction: Why on earth people will download this app?

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

Two things cropped up before deciding the approach:

  1. How BIG is the problem and How LONG would this problem last; and
  2. What are the best ‘existing’ ways than reinventing wheels

Let’s talk the first case, the problem was BIG but had limitations.

The first limitation was, the amount of Cash each bank would have in their ATMs and how many times this same ATMs would get renewed with fresh cash.

Second issue was the withdraw limit v/s the amount of people in the queue. It was easier to send a friend with 2–3 debit cards (Yes! its not legal) and withdraw than making own self stand in the queue. So for the people standing out, its easier to see one person, but he actually has multiple cards.

The last issue, most of the ATMs where running out of cash within 15–30 mins.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

The problem was not a long as most of the banks were flooding the cash into ATMs every end of the day. And honestly, if you even get up 30mins before your usual time, you be 100% assured, you would find at least 2 ATMs with cash.

Building an app sounds cool, but the issues with this approach was making people aware of the app first and then download the app (well yes, for just 10–15 days before they uninstall). Secondly, when existing popular apps such as Walnut (with over 1,000,000 downloads) already ventured into highlighting ATMs with Cash, reinventing wheel and investing time was actually needless.

Crowdsourcing is synergising approach for a common goal.

The best part about any project is the feedback you receive and what you learn from it. Driving this campaign needed two important segments to be in its proper place:

  1. Consumer Segment: Set of People who wish to receive important updates about Cash in ATMs nearby
  2. Contributors: Those who take responsibility to inturn help others

One thing was sure, since this was targeted to Goa, Facebook being the prominent Social Media Channel, was the obvious choice of primary promotion. People started reacting immediately with positive contribution from each one of them, by sharing the posts. When i created the sheet, i knew on thing — power of crowd need to loop in for this continuous drive.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

..and it did happen. Lot of influencers contributed and shared this post to help for the cause. The best part, a lot of the people also updated the ATM’s status using the Sheet’s editing power. Well, not to mention some of the goofups made by few folks by editing or deleting few columns or accidently deleting some rows and many such unwanted activities, which made me to remove the edit permissions and keep it Open to all in comment mode only. I only opened the sheet for edit mode for certain set of users who buzzed me privately asking voluntarily if they could join this campaign.

The impact of crowdsourcing was clearly seen within the first 24 hours of the sheet being live. The sheet crossed more than 1K unique visits in less than 24 hrs with more than 90% people accessing with android.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

Shocking stats was, the choice of using ‘just’ facebook worked as more than 85% referrers came from Facebook while sharing this link. Check out the stats below:

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

People soon realized the campaign was started by me and started receiving calls/texts for the updates.

What made me happy the most is a post where someone posted a concern and there was an ‘answer’ that you spent time to work on. That’s when you know the idea has clicked.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

Received some love from MLA’s too who were keen to support this activity and that was a great booster. Thanks Mr. Khaunte.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

The sheet that just had Panaji, now received interests from several other parts of Goa. Not just Goa, but a lot of people from different parts of country got in touch with me if they could use the same sheet with a new tab for updating respective ATMs in their cities. The name “ATMs in Panaji” renamed to “ATMs in India”.

Demand calls for Innovation

Since the launch of this sheet, I was closely observing the data. The sheet, however was getting updated every 1 hour, and thanks to contributions by people, i was able to keep the sheet updated ( .. and you know the reason why I was now the only updater, along with a few more update-buddies). I thought the major issue was

  1. 1 hour was too much of a time considering long queues at the ATMs
  2. Updating sheet via Google Sheet was hard especially its scorching heat.

The first point was definitely a problem and we needed the latency time to be reduced by 15–20 mins. During the core hours, it was important to figure out what could be the best way to provide right information, on mobile. Thats where i thought, Whatsapp would be a better idea.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

No need to have a document reader. A platform that’s popular and works on all major OS’s.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

Thanks to a Reliance Jio SIM that came to the rescue. Well, had no tensions of Data :). I must say, this clicked instantly. More than 200 people registered in less than 48 hours and the best part, now the total members are 453 (Yes, 3 groups).

A lot of people started asking help and i could reply to them instantly. The best part was this:

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

From Sheet to WhatsApp, was a great drive. In the last 13 days, we have replied to almost 1000+ queries on WhatsApp. Just to add, initially we started broadcasting messages, but then realized, to receive message frequently is kinda irritating, so we announced a new service by which people could ask about “ATM with Cash queries”, and we would update them via WhatsApp. Thank to Neha Haldavanekar for constantly updating us with the info.

People from Goa love to Support and yes, they aren’t IT-backward.

Ask someone about IT in Goa, people will give you a dead stare. Yes, but things are changing. Changing very fast. This campaign is a clear example on how people reacted and contributed to make a bigger impact.

Thanks to cool media people such as Newton Sequeira (Times of India) & TOI Team, Diana Fernandes(The Goan), Pankaj Kurtarkar (98.3 Radio Mirchi) for spreading the news.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

..and then, the content reached out nationwide. Here is one such link:

Campaigns are best driven when forces join in, i was lucky to have more and more folks joining in. Thanks to Team Androcid, Mandar Joshi, Pradeep Sehgal, Yogesh Raut as well.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

There were so many of friends and well wishers who contributed to this, whose names are not added here. I would like to sincerely thank them from bottom of my heart. This campaign was successful and the reason is EACH ONE OF YOU.

The period of life where the friends with 50,100 turn to be the most dearest.

Next time you find anyone saying “Nothing happening about IT in Goa” — well you now have an article to share with them.

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