Appyhigh - Success Story of India’s First & Largest App Ecosystem

Preeti Karna Preeti Karna
Jul 5, 2022 18 min read
Appyhigh - Success Story of India’s First & Largest App Ecosystem

Company Profile is an initiative by StartupTalky to publish verified information on different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by AppyHigh.

The development and usage of mobile Internet technology have been tremendous in the last decade. The growth of the mobile industry in parallel to the digital technology transformation is making the life of people much easier. The developers are helping build great mobile apps to engage and inspire millions.

AppyHigh is a mobile internet technology company to bridge the gap between people and technology. It has built innovative products and solutions and has achieved to engage over 400 million users in more than 10 languages. Read the startup story of AppyHigh, its founders, the ideation, business model & Revenue model, and more.

AppyHigh - Company Highlights

Startup Name AppyHigh
Headquarters Gurgaon
Industry Internet Technology
Founder Venus Dhuria and Aneesh Rayancha
Founded 2018
Website appyhigh.com

AppyHigh - About
AppyHigh - Industry
AppyHigh - Founders and Team
AppyHigh - The Idea and Startup Story
AppyHigh - Name, Tagline, and Logo
AppyHigh - Product and Services
AppyHigh - Team Management and Work Culture
AppyHigh - Employee Engagement Initiatives
AppyHigh - Recruitment
AppyHigh - Business and Revenue Model
AppyHigh - Customer Acquisition
AppyHigh - Challenges Faced
AppyHigh - Growth
AppyHigh - Funding
AppyHigh - Competitors
AppyHigh - Tools Used in the Company
AppyHigh - Recognition and Achievements
AppyHigh - Future Plans

AppyHigh - About

Vision: AppyHigh envisions a world where living is simple, decluttered and enriching. They are creating that reality, one app at a time.

Purpose: They are building a house of everyday apps that are intuitive and easy to use. They seek to mitigate friction from everyday lives, by helping people save time by being more efficient & productive.

Identity: A mobile internet technology company that builds global products to engage and inspire millions - every day. They are a multi-product, global tech company building utility and content platforms for the next billion.

AppyHigh - Industry

AppyHigh aims to serve a billion internet users by 2026 through its ecosystem of intuitive everyday apps. In that sense, the market is a multi-billion opportunity. The following highlight the multifaceted market opportunity –

1. Today, there are 6.3 bn smartphone users across the world. This is projected to cross 7.3 bn by 2025. The opportunity is even bigger in the developing world, especially India where this number is expected to shoot up to 895 mn from the current 600 mn in the same period.

2. The digital advertising industry in India is estimated at USD 2 bn currently and is expected to expand to USD 10 bn by 2025, according to Dentsu Digital India Report 2021.  On a global scale, it’s expected to touch USD 700 bn from the current USD 378 bn.

3. The global creator economy is pegged at almost USD 100 bn today and is expected to grow to USD 500 bn by 2025, according to Kalari Capital’s report on the creator economy.

4. Further, with their expertise in the app ecosystem after launching almost 20 successful apps, they also seek to cater to the developer community with the SaaS products that help them monitor and scale their apps. The global SaaS industry itself stands at a staggering size of $ 272 bn today and is poised to touch $ 440 bn by 2025.

All of these are direct market opportunities for AppyHigh given its portfolio of apps focused on everyday use, creativity and design tools for the creator ecosystem, and business tools for app developers.

AppyHigh - Founders and Team

Venus Dhuria and Aneesh Rayancha are the co-founders of AppyHigh.

Venus Dhuria

Venus Dhuria - Co-Founder of AppyHigh
Venus Dhuria - Co-Founder of AppyHigh

Venus is a 3x tech-entrepreneur building AppyHigh as a multi-product, global internet tech company that makes mobile-first platforms for productivity and utility, entertainment, content discovery and creation, for the next billion!

He hails from a small border town called Fazilka in Punjab. Right from his early college days at Punjab Engineering College, Venus displayed a strong entrepreneurial zeal that not only enabled him to bag laurels throughout his academic career but has also fueled his serial entrepreneurship journey.

Venus started his career at Reckitt - one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, scaling the corporate ropes as he worked in the supply chain,  manufacturing and value engineering for iconic brands like Dettol, Harpic & Mortein. Reckitt is also where he met Aneesh who worked there as an R&D scientist.

He started his entrepreneurship journey with Aneesh when they launched Rutogo, an outstation cab aggregator. The company was entirely bootstrapped, with some funds borrowed from friends &  family. In a span of just 1 year, they scaled it to cover bookings from 20 cities. They further expanded services to 60 cities, before Ixigo offered to acquire them in 2015. The product got merged into Ixigo  Cabs, and Venus & Aneesh became the backbone for Ixigo’s cab vertical. They expanded it to 10,000  bookings per day, capturing 1% of the daily cab market.

Venus then went on to start Cricnwin- a cricket fan engagement platform. He raised seed funding and grew the platform to a million plus downloads.

Having gone through the grind himself, Venus ardently believes in supporting the startup ecosystem  and budding founders with both experience and capital. AppyHigh is a well-known name in the investing circles for pre-seed funding with investments in over 20 companies, including Dukaan, Krishify, and One Code among others.

When away from work, Venus can often be found reading and watching anything history,  philosophy, psychology & humour. Apart from being an ardent cricket enthusiast, Venus is also an amateur rapper.

Aneesh Rayancha

Aneesh Rayancha - co-founder of AppyHigh
Aneesh Rayancha - co-founders of AppyHigh

Aneesh is a serial entrepreneur, building AppyHigh as a multi-product, global internet tech company that makes mobile-first platforms for productivity and utility, entertainment, content discovery and creation, for the next billion!

Hailing from a small town in Telangana - Ranjana Siricilla, Aneesh’s passion for digital products stems from his affinity for computer science and information technology which ignited during his days at IIT Mumbai, where he pursued a master’s degree in chemistry.

Together with Venus, he has started and scaled multiple ventures over the last 9 years.

Aneesh & Venus together started Rutogo, an outstation cab aggregator. The company was entirely bootstrapped, with some funds borrowed from friends & family. In a span of just 1 year, they scaled it to cover bookings from 20 cities. They further expanded services to 60 cities, before Ixigo offered to acquire them in 2015. The product got merged into Ixigo Cabs, and Venus & Aneesh became the backbone for Ixigo’s cabs vertical. They expanded it to 10,000 bookings per day, capturing 1% of the daily cab market.

They also experimented with building aggregator apps and created 3 of them - AnyJobs, Samachari and Smartshopper. This was the starting point for AppyHigh.

His first venture after being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug was a cleaning-chemicals company called InnoChem - banking on his experience as an R&D scientist at Reckitt working on iconic consumer brands such as Mortein and Dettol. Reckitt is also where he met Venus.

Having undergone the struggle of entrepreneurship himself, Aneesh firmly believes in supporting the startup ecosystem and budding founders with both experience and capital. AppyHigh is a well-known name in the investing circles for pre-seed funding with investments in over 20 companies, including  Dukaan, Krishify, and One Code among others.

In his free time, Aneesh enjoys gardening and horse-riding and is currently also training for a shot at participating in the IronMan in the near future.

AppyHigh - The Idea and Startup Story

Venus and Aneesh have known each other for more than a decade and are serial entrepreneurs. Aneesh holds a master's degree in chemistry from IIT Mumbai while Venus is an electrical engineer from PEC Chandigarh. They met while working at Reckitt.

In 2014, Aneesh & Venus together started Rutogo, a cab aggregator for outstation and local cabs. They raised funds from friends & family & scaled it to cover bookings from 20 cities in 12 months. They further expanded services to 60 cities, before Ixigo acquired them in 2015. The product merged with Ixigo Cabs & they joined Ixigo to lead this vertical and expanded it to 10,000 bookings per day.

When they observed the rapid pace of internet expansion fuelled by the humble smartphone, they decided to experiment and observed 4 prominent patterns emerging in the consumer internet industry -

  1. Everything was becoming mobile first. Tasks were transitioning from PC to smartphones and an entire generation of internet users was entirely skipping the PC.
  2. People were spending almost half of their time awake on their smartphones, managing every aspect of their lives via their phones.
  3. There were almost 6 million apps on all the iOS AppStore and Google Playstore put together, which is causing a problem of plenty.
  4. They understood the value of building a business that is self-sufficient from day one, hence the marginal cost of scaling up should be as low as possible.
  5. There was significant impetus being given by the government to Make in India

This gave birth to the idea of building everyday apps that are intuitive and easy to use and help people save time, become more productive and of course enjoy themselves while using them.

There was a lot of traction around the concept of ‘All-in’1’ & that’s how MessengerGo - an all-in-1 platform to access all your social media accounts and messengers, was launched.

Venus and Aneesh started AppyHigh with their personal savings and hence did most of the work themselves. They hired an app development intern to help them build the app, while the product design, launch & driving organic scaling was all done personally by them.

Validation of AppyHigh’s ideas has happened through their apps achieving significant growth in downloads and active users one app after the other. In 4 years, AppyHigh has launched 15+ apps that have garnered almost 500 million downloads and their revenues have grown at a CAGR of 45% in the last 2 years.

AppyHigh logo
AppyHigh logo

Its name and logo embody what AppyHigh truly is. Appyzens are very passionate about building apps to solve the everyday needs of the digital masses. They derive a ‘high’ feeling from doing this. Further, their apps are designed to make life easier and decluttered for people! Giving users a happy high through their apps. This defines the origin of the name AppyHigh.

The logo’s fundamental building block is the quintessential symbol for apps the squircle. The colon stands for bringing people and technology together, while the semicolon represents fostering startups with capital and growth.

AppyHigh - Product and Services

With 6 million apps available across various app stores, there are three pertinent issues that need to be addressed:

  1. Users don’t find apps they download useful enough: Almost 89% of the apps are uninstalled within 7 days of installation and this number goes up to 95% for 30 days.
  2. Phone space matters: Every user uses 80-90 apps on average. But phone space is a major constraint; in fact, 20% of app uninstalls happen due to lack of space. It is the 2nd biggest reason for app uninstall.
  3. Just too many apps: Every year almost 2 million apps are released. To date, 21 million apps have been released by developers, but only 6 million remain active. This means that only 30% of the apps ever released are useful enough to be relevant and survive.
  4. Absence of trusted brands providing quality products: Unlike the physical world where products belong to reputed and highly visible manufacturers/providers, the app ecosystem is dominated by almost a million developers, most of them not very well known. There is a dearth of reputed well-established brand/product stables that consumers can blindly trust for high-quality, reliable and safe products.

AppyHigh aims to be a global consumer internet company that is the trusted partner for a billion users in their digital journey.

They are addressing the above problems through their unique ecosystem of intuitive, reliable, easy-to-use everyday apps. Their apps, Instore and MessengerGo, enable people to do more with social media and communication, and acquire information (news, data, browsing); BrowserGo enhances their everyday browsing experience with a personal content feed; and apps like TV Lens, Like Karo, serve them curated content. Besides, their utility apps, Scanner GO, AppLockGO and Share Karo India, enhance their daily productivity.

Their USP lies in their ecosystem of apps. Other players are either focused on bringing traditional services online – e.g. travel, transportation, shopping, finance, health, education, etc., or creating single apps performing one standalone feature i.e. a standalone scanning app company, or a standalone file sharing app company.

Their ecosystem is based on what they call the ‘Digital Hierarchy of Needs’. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs - starting from the most basic physiological needs to safety, love and belonging and eventually, self-actualisation needs – an individual’s digital life can be described using the ‘Digital Hierarchy of Needs’.

AppyHigh Services
AppyHigh Services

At the bottom layer are the basics - utility apps which perform day-to-day tasks like file sharing, file storage/management, phone security and privacy, phone memory cleaning, etc. This is where AppyHigh apps like Share Karo, AppLock Go, Cleaner Go, etc., come into play.

The middle layer focuses on experiences – those which serve the need to belong, to build genuine connections, to be understood. This happens through social media apps, content, and entertainment apps. Their products like Instore, M video maker, Like Karo, Browser Go and TVLens aim to elevate the content and entertainment experience of users.

The top layer is the service layer where users start paying for premium services/features, which give them more personalised and exclusive experiences – like subscriptions, in-app purchases, online commerce, etc. Premium features of their products such as ScannerGo and their B2B offerings address this layer.

AppyHigh is a one-stop shop for the most reliable and intuitive apps for a diverse range of actions users might want to perform.

AppyHigh - Team Management and Work Culture

They are a 126-member team. They focus on building a positive and collaborative environment, where people can learn and have a blast while doing it. Appyzens are encouraged to experiment and take full ownership to find innovative solutions.

They have put in place a number of initiatives to ensure the well-being and growth of their team. These include:

Learning budgets: AppyHigh is big on upskilling and supporting people rapidly in this tech/digital-first world. Every individual gets a personal learning budget, which he or she can use for availing of Udemy courses of their choice.

Paternity leave: 1-month paternity leave + 1 month WFH

Period leave: AppyHigh’s leave policy includes 10 days of paid period leaves every year for all women employees. This is a small step in their journey to be an equal opportunity workplace and does their part in dispelling the taboo around menstruation. They also maintain an open and positive environment along with proper checks to ensure none of their women employees feels awkward while availing of this benefit.

Comprehensive health insurance: They offer a comprehensive employee health insurance plan with an insured sum of up to Rs 10 lakh for each employee and his or her family through leading insurance companies. The group insurance policy covers maternity benefits, pre- and post-hospitalisation expense coverage and more.

Device ownership policy: They have a unique policy wherein the laptop ownership is transferred to the employees on completion of three years.

AppyHigh - Employee Engagement Initiatives

Virtual fun sessions: With in-person get-togethers becoming difficult due to the lockdown and the flexibility to work from chosen locations, they moved many of their celebrations, such as Diwali and Independence Day, online. They kicked off their virtual town hall last year with some great team-building workshops, and also brought in Rahul Subramanian and Kumar Varun for an evening of standup comedy.

Offsite workshops: They grew from less than 30 people to around 100, all during the lockdown. Although working online has become the new norm, the entire team continues to fire on all cylinders. To build focus on the future and achieve the scale that they want to, they have launched offsite workathons and strategy workshops starting with key functional leaders, to enable people to connect better and think in a synergised manner.

A few of the top communications points to convey to prospective talent are:

Learning Lifestyle
At AppyHigh, they fail smart and learn fast.

Their knowledge cafes, learning budgets, and test-and-learn philosophy on the job – all reflect their focus on enabling their people to maximise their knowledge and skillset.

They also believe that you learn the most when you teach. Employees are encouraged to share their knowledge via blogs relevant to their areas of expertise.

They empower you to make an impact
At AppyHigh, you work with a high degree of ownership and autonomy. If you are handling a particular project or role, the canvas is yours to define the problem, identify solutions, choose the ones you think will work and then see them through to execution and measurement. This teaches decision-making and also gives you a direct understanding of the impact your presence has.

Your individual aspirations matter
AppyHigh offers its employees not just a career but a career path with ample opportunities for growth, promotions and building a solid relationship with the company. They want them to thrive in all areas of life. They do not track daily attendance or office hours. They are open to flexible schedules. They have adopted a hybrid model where people have the option of working from their homes.

A great vibe
Their team comprises people with amazing talents, be it musicians and amateur singers or rappers who have launched multiple tracks, marathon runners, gymnastics and surfing enthusiasts, pet lovers, beer connoisseurs, you name it and they have them all.


Benefits of Employee Engagement and Why is it Important for Success of your Organization
Employee engagement is a crucial factor in the success of an organization. Want to find out more about it?. Here are its benefits and why is it important.

AppyHigh - Recruitment

Their recruitment is a mix of freshers and lateral candidates. They look for candidates who are eager to continuously learn and try new things. When it comes to lateral candidates, they look for people who have worked in tech roles with prior experience in product companies, software services, consulting firms, and prominent startups.

AppyHigh - Business and Revenue Model

The consumer internet industry per se works on a three-pronged model.

Advertising revenue: Given the fact that such products are used on a daily basis by the masses, it’s a great platform for advertisers to reach their desired audience.

In-app purchases: Subscription services and premium paid features used by users.

Billion-plus monthly minutes are spent on their platforms that enable everyday personal and work productivity, creativity and personalised entertainment. On the other hand are advertisers that seek the attention of these audiences. They make a significant part of their revenues by bridging this gap via advertising. This, supported by in-app purchases, allows us to generate capital to invest in building better products.

AppyHigh - Customer Acquisition

Having launched and scaled 15+ products in just four years, they have established some golden rules. The success of AppyHigh products lies in their playbook – the build, learn-iterate approach, and fail smart and learn fast culture:

  1. Knowing what the user wants: Always keeping a sharp eye on emerging user trends – what are people looking for, what kind of apps or features are they searching for. While doing this, they also create a tech stack to help build the MVP.
  2. Identifying trends and speed to market: Once they identify the opportunity, they ship out the MVP very fast. For instance, AppyHigh was one of the first movers to capitalise on the void created in the app ecosystem when Chinese apps were restricted in India.
  3. Grow organically first to validate the product market fit: In the initial phases of the product, use all the organic growth hacks such as SEO, ASO, content, etc., to drive the mental availability of the product. As more users trickle in, iterate to make the product better. This approach is specifically important and very useful when resources are scarce.
  4. Drive engagement: Once the user base reaches a certain scale, increase the obsession around engagement and retention.
  5. Monetisation and inorganic growth: With product-market-fit in place, monetise your products with minimal disruption of user experience and at the same time start investing in inorganic acquisition channels.

AppyHigh - Challenges Faced

AppyHigh has not only survived the pandemic but has almost doubled its business and grown its user base 10x in two years of the pandemic.

This has been possible by following these principles:

  1. Consistently diversified product portfolio: AppyHigh started in 2018, with 1 app - MessengerGo (an all-in-1 social media messaging app). The first two years were spent on stabilising this product and further, and understanding the major user trends in the app ecosystem. However, from 2020 onwards, AppyHigh undertook a spree of new launches in quick succession.
  2. Instore (a social media tool that lets users auto-generate captions and hashtags for their content and also bookmark their favourite content, launched in January 2020).
  3. AppLockGo (smart and convenient app to lock apps and content on your device, launched in January 2020).
  4. Browser Go (new-age fast and stable web browser, launched in July 2020).
  5. Share Karo India (a fast social sharing app for sharing media, files, documents, etc., launched in July 2020).
  6. Scanner GO (turns a user’s phone into a scanner with a host of AI-powered features, launched in October 2020).
  7. TV Lens: A TV and movie show recommendation platform.

These new products today contribute 85% to AppyHigh’s user base. The impact of continuous innovation and portfolio expansion has been the growth of their revenue from USD 3.5 million in 2019 to USD 8 million in 2021.

  1. Capitalise on market opportunities quickly: AppyHigh was one of the first movers to capitalise on the void created in the app ecosystem when Chinese apps were restricted in India. They were quick to identify the user needs that would go unfulfilled with the Chinese apps pulled out. This led to the launch of three of their leading apps – BrowserGO, Scanner Go and Share Karo India.
  2. Maintain focus on execution: When the pandemic hit in Q1 of 2020, AppyHigh’s new launches and portfolio expansion were already planned. Rather than getting distracted and holding back on investing in building more products and growing the team, they carried on unfazed. They launched new products, while almost doubling the headcount from 20 to 40 in 2020 and raising it to almost 90 people by the end of 2021.
  3. Prioritise sustainable growth: They follow a standard principle – grow the product organically and start monetisation before investing in paid acquisitions. This helps them maintain profitability and cash flows that are then reinvested into making the products better.

AppyHigh - Growth

In the last 4 years, AppyHigh has achieved significant business impact:

  • In a short span of 4 years, AppyHigh today has revenues of 8.1 mn USD (2021)
  • In the last 2 years, revenues have grown at a CAGR of 45%
  • In 4 years, AppyHigh has launched 15+ apps, which together have gathered more than 500mn downloads and have 50 million monthly active users on its ecosystem of apps.
  • AppyHigh today employs more than 100 people.
  • AppyHigh has been profitable from day one and continues to be profitable.

What makes them proud is that all of this has been done while remaining 100% bootstrapped!

AppyHigh - Funding

They have kept AppyHigh bootstrapped till now as they have always believed in building a business that generates profits and cash flows. Most of the initial funding for the startup came from personal savings.

To grow to one billion users, they are to plan a fund-raising in the near future. They have strong inbound interests from investors. They will definitely associate with partners who understand their vision and operating model and have seen the explosive scaling of similar ecosystems across the globe.

AppyHigh - Competitors

Their ambition is to build a global consumer internet giant in India. Their apps transcend the entire hierarchy of users’ digital needs. That makes their competition multifold.

On one hand, they have established players such as Adobe Scan (document scanning), Picsart (photo editing) and Chrome (browser). On the other hand, there are Chinese tech giants such as Bytedance, Inshot and Meitu, which have evolved their own portfolios of widely adopted everyday apps (though some of them are now banned).

Last but not the least, there are thousands of small individual developers across the globe that make apps in similar categories and vie for users.

AppyHigh - Tools Used in the Company

Appyhigh uses a range of tools across functions.

  • On the tech front, Taiga is used for project management.
  • For cloud platforms, AWS, IoFlood, Azure, DigitalOcean, Nvidia Triton and E2E solutions are used.
  • The design team uses Figma, Zeplin and Photoshop. For Product management, the GSuite and Notion come really handy. Strapi and WordPress are used as CMS.
  • The analytics team depends on Firebase, Google Analytics, Clevertap and Jupiter Notebooks.
  • Android Studio, VS Code, Xcode, Elasticsearch, Apache Spark, FastAPI, Celery, Django, rabbitMQ, NodeJs, React, NextJs, GraphQL, and Swagger, are very useful for the development team.
  • They also use Docker, Kubernetes, FastAPI, Apache Airflow, Devtron, Lambda, Jenkins, Github Actions, Ansible, Carpenter, rancher for their operations management, while Prometheus, Grafana, Kibana are used as dashboards.
  • MongoDB, PostgreSQL, MySQL, RDS, Redis are the most used databases at AppyHigh.
  • Besides that Wasabi, S3 are used for cloud storage, and Git are used for version control.
  • All internal communications take place on Slack.
  • The HR department uses Zoho People and Payroll.
  • The marketing team employs Firebase and Clevertap to send notifications to the users, while the sensor tower is used for SEO research.

AppyHigh - Recognition and Achievements

AppyHigh has been adjudged as one of the Top 10 developers (No.6) headquartered in India by App Annie (now Data.AI) in 2020, among industry behemoths like Times Group, Reliance Industries, and Airtel and ahead of Dailyhunt, Inshorts, and Paytm.

AppyHigh - Future Plans

Their ambition is to double their user base every year which means that in the next 2 years they want their apps to serve almost 200 million users. By 2026, they aspire to have 1 billion MAUs in their ecosystem.

Appyhigh has backed almost 75 budding entrepreneurs with pre-seed investments. They include  - Fitso (now acquired by Zomato), Krishify (an agritech startup focused on improving business prospects for farmers and agri-businessmen), MyDukaan (a startup focused on digitisation of the retail landscape in India), EloElo (a live streaming and social gaming platform for creators in India), and many more, One Impression (Integrated influencer marketing network), One code (connecting digital-first brands with sellers). All of these companies have subsequently grown their businesses and undertaken fund-raising with marquee VC investors.

FAQs

Who is the founder of AppyHigh?

Venus Dhuria and Aneesh Rayancha are the co-founders of AppyHigh.

When was AppyHigh founded?

AppyHigh was founded in 2018.

What is the funding of AppyHigh?

AppyHigh is a bootstrapped company. It has not received any funding yet.

How many users use AppyHigh?

There is over 400 million users of AppyHigh.

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