The Rewards of Being Social
Sagoon co-founder Govinda Giri, who hails from Nepal, talks about the space his U.S.-based company aims to fill in the current social media landscape.
A social platform that adds value to your life and is not merely used as a “time suck”– that was the idea behind Sagoon, a social and e-commerce start-up headquartered in Washington. Co-founded by Govinda Giri, who hails from the hill regions of Nepal and who had migrated to the United States for his studies, Sagoon originally began as a search engine. The company became a social platform formally in July 2014.
Derived from the Sanskrit word “Shakuna” which means “good luck,” Sagoon was founded along with Swati Dayal, who worked with mobile and web development for over eight years, and Kabin Sitoula, who comes with 20 years of experience in finance and marketing.
In India, the Sagoon app was launched in early January this year with Bollywood actor Shraddha Kapoor attending the launch event in New Delhi.
Sagoon aims to be a game-changer in how users experience social media, with the introduction of Social Smart Card later this year that would enable the user to shop, redeem coupons, gift their loved ones, and earn cashback and discounts on future purchases. The idea is that the users earn 5 per cent cashback on every transaction. The company, with its motto of “Connect, Share, Earn,” aims to be a one-stop shop for all users. As of Nov. 30, 2017, the company has raised $4.8 million in funding.
Co-founder Govinda Giri, who was limited by education and job opportunities in Nepal where he was meant to “plough the fields and tend to family animals,” talks about the journey of his company, his transition from being a system engineer at Pentagon to a start-up founder:
They say that every company begins with the idea: “What is the problem in the market that they can solve.” In that line of thought, what was the objective behind the founding of Sagoon?
Although Sagoon was originally formed as a search engine in 2009, we continued to evolve as a company when we saw an opportunity to provide a social media experience that appealed to users across the globe and provide more meaningful social interaction.
Currently in South and Southeast Asia, only 37 per cent of the population uses social media. There is a clear disconnect between available social media platforms and what users worldwide are interested in. According to recent research, e-commerce and use-to-user commerce are what Asian users are most interested in.
American social networks are simply not set up for e-commerce. There is also a missed opportunity on these networks to make gift cards, coupon offers, and discounts purely social. We look to address this interest that Western-focused apps ignore and plan to reward customers for being a direct source of revenue.
What led to its development as an e-commerce platform in 2014?
When I introduced Sagoon in 2009, I had the vision of rivaling the big search engines like Google and Bing. However, there was a lack of market opportunity in this space. After 14 months of trial and error, facing a rough capital environment, and a successful patent filing, Sagoon transitioned into a social platform in 2014 after I realized the need for a more globally appealing app.
We have created a network that over 1.6 million people across the world are using every day.
What makes Sagoon stand out among other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram?
Sagoon is multi-application platform. Every application has its unique features. The ultimate goal of each product is to build intimate relationships and a productive life.
Often, people do not want to share how they are truly feeling on social media, but want to present the best version of themselves. Our Mood Talk feature enables them to share a real-time expression of how they are feeling to open a discussion with friends and family. The Secret feature allows users to share their experiences and questions in a space free of judgement.
Sagoon plans to share 5 per cent of the company’s revenue with every individual user as a reward of spending their time on the platform. The Social Smart Card is slated to be released by the end of 2018.
How was the move from a secure a job at Department of Defense to entrepreneurship?
After 12 years of working at the Department of the Army in the United States, I felt very unfulfilled in my day-to-day work. I knew that my calling was to do something more.
After the initial struggles with Sagoon as a search engine, I continued to pursue my dream to create a social network that truly focused on connection and fostering deeper relationships. Now our focus on providing users tools to help better their relationships and themselves is extremely rewarding.