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With Over 1k Active Communities, Scrollback Is Building The Next Gen Open Source Chat Platform

With Over 1k Active Communities, Scrollback Is Building The Next Gen Open Source Chat Platform

Gone are the days when people wrote formal emails or letters for every communication. This is the age of instant gratification. Today, maximum conversations happen via messaging platforms. And when it comes to community and group conversations, Whatsapp & Hike are the first to click. However, they are limited in many ways. For one thing, both allow you to add just a maximum 100 people in a single group at once.

On the other hand, social media groups have fantastic reach but the conversations are extremely static and momentary. The minute a new post conversation starts, the previous conversations are lost. Most immersive conversations happen on forums, but forums are passé and haven’t evolved with the changing times and needs of the new age. This is where Scrollback comes in picture.

Co-founded by Gaurav Srivastava & Aravind Ravi, Scrollback as a platform brings the real-time element and convenience of chat applications, the reach of social media and the immersive conversations experience of forums – all into one platform, an experience tailored specifically for communities.

How It All Started?

In March 2013, cofounders Aravind & Gaurav entered the three month JFDI Accelerator Program in Singapore. They were building a community-powered real-time Q&A platform called Askabt. The product had a growing active user base with a few paying customers. However, just ten days before the accelerator’s demo day, Google announced its unified messaging service, Hangouts. This announcement meant that Google talk would die a slow death taking Askabt down with it as well.

After this, the cofounders realized that currently ‘the feeling of being present’ was missing in online communities. That was the time when the basic idea of Scrollback was realized; a real time chat conversation platform for communities was somewhat missing and they aimed to fill this gap. However, the next big question was whether they build a tool that communities use or take the risky, long–term bet of being the place where they exist. Finally, they decided to go for the latter and Scrollback was born.

The Features

Scrollback lets you create different discussion threads while keeping some sanity in your community and helps you control conversations. All the conversations are archived and can be easily searched through. Scrollback is also Search Engine Optimized which excites a lot of community managers looking to bring traffic to their rooms/communities.

What sets Scrollback apart is that it doesn’t have any limit to the number of people who can join a group.

How it Works?

Anyone can simply create a room and then embed it into their own website. Currently, most companies engage with their customers on third party social media platforms, while Scrollback helps companies to create the same buzz and engagement with their customers on their own website. This is a great content marketing exercise for community managers and businesses, especially publications and ecommerce websites that benefit from conversations right on their website. Users can also integrate Scrollback with IRC and Twitter. This means that you can actually have all the content spoken about you out there and pulled into one room.

The Numbers

As on March 2015, Scrollback had around 1005 active communities. Out of which, most of the communities are tech focussed with open source groups like Mozilla and Hasgeek using Scrollback.

  • Of the total communities, on an average a little over 300 of these communities are active daily.
  • The most active communities have around 1000 people in a single community, but on an average, there are 50-200 users in a community.
  • On an average, it has around 6000 users participating in community conversations on a daily basis

Future Expansion Plans

Scrollback is working towards rolling out the next round of features like private rooms and photo/video sharing, as these features are in popular demand among its user base. They will be doing region specific targeted marketing starting with India and expanding to the other countries in South East Asia. Besides, the startup is also working on different programs and initiatives to rope in individual community managers and interest groups on Scrollback.

Team Scrollback
Team Scrollback

“In the next five years we hope to become the go to place for community conversations. We hope to capture users who are currently making do with static communities like Google communities, facebook groups and stand alone online forums,” told Aravind.

Recently, Scrollback has also announced the launch of a new app for both web and Android. It is currently being used by over a thousand communities across the globe. With organizations like Mozilla using Scrollback, the platform’s traditional users have been tech focused. The redesigned user experience aims to also engage communities in other fields as well as businesses building communities around their products or services.

Earlier in last year, the firm had also raised $400K in a round led by Singapore-based Jungle Ventures. Yet to introduce any monetisation model, Scrollback is working on to introducing premium features that will be paid. “In the long run, we are also looking at advertising revenue share with community managers,” told Aravind Ravi.

The social media groups like Facebook groups, Reddit groups are some of Scrollback competitors. However, its real time chat elements and the ability to embed and help companies build their community in their own backyard, sets it apart from competitors.

Our Take

No doubt the concept of allowing unlimited number of users in a single group at once sets Scrollback apart from others like WhatsApp and Hike. However, riding only on single USP for too long will be a dicey deal. Rolling out new features periodically will definitely help Scrollback to remain in community chat space with dominance. The open source angle will help the startup gain a lot of initial customers, but ultimately they’ll have to also figure out a monetisation model. Let’s see what the future has in store for this startup!