Founded in November 2016 by Student Entrepreneurs, Trell is a Mobile-First Visual Blogging App for outgoing millennials to share their travel and local explorations through pictures.
Trell (Trail experiences and Tell your friends) offers travelers and foodies a platform to broadcast their explorations as visual blogs called “trails”. It can have a catchy title with a series of images and visual tags to show what people loved, disliked, recommend and so on. All trails are Google searchable. Since it’s a user-generated content, users can add personal anecdotes and amazing tidbits related to a place, as well as offer tips.
Using Trell, people can get an overview of an experience in less than three seconds. And if they get inspired by some post, they can show their intent to visit them later by using a simple action button called Tryout. It bookmarks the post by adding it to a self-reminding bucket-list.
Since its launch, Trell has got 45,000 users organically who have shared more than 90,000 unique local experiences about 30,000 unique locations across the world.
How It All Started?
“I always wanted to build something that would outlast me.” says Pulkit Agrawal who got along with 4 of his friends to build Trell.
Pulkit recalls, “I was in my last year of engineering in IIT Bombay when extensively celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi festival was around. I wanted to visit some offbeat pandals and I started my search over internet for it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything apart from 5-6 famous ones like Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbaicha Raja, Andhericha Raja etc which everyone knows.
Then, I turned up to my long-time friend who was a Mumbaikar for some help. To my surprise, she knew about almost all local pandals, the unique themes, messages associated with each one of them and rituals followed. My friend told me that such local lores and knowledge is scattered everywhere and not accessible online as people refrain to talk about it on regular mediums unless they are into blogging.”
Moreover, blogging is difficult and tedious for people who are not into writing. That sparked an idea of why not make blogging ‘fun’, ‘visual’ and ‘intuitive’ for everyone including the teenagers so that they could use it easily to start sharing these local tidbits and inspire journeys for people like us. Thus, Trell (TRail experiences and tELL your friends) was born.
Currently a team of 9, Trell is targeting a highly potential O2O Indian market with the total size of ($92.5Bn) with Serviceable ATL Market of ($9.2 Bn).
You may not believe but Trell actually started off as an Instagram handle (@TrellingMumbai) which went viral Presently Trell is driving a humongous community of 300,000+ followers across all handles with reach of 5M+ weekly impressions.
Within months of its launch, Trell has won the Worldwide Mobile UX Awards 2017 where they got featured amongst the household names of Silicon Valley like Crunchbase, Tap by Wattpad, EventBrite etc. for the best User Experience in Social and Communication category.
“People using Trell are fascinated with the fact that now they don’t need a laptop, wifi connections and tedious uploading of photographs on PCs to blog about their travel & local explorations! Mobile is easier to use and makes posting online seem fun. It’s a hassle free blogging on the go!” says Bimal Kartheek Rebba , who heads Community Development at Trell.
The Team Building
The passion to explore brought Bimal and Pulkit together who were close friends and got into it immediately as they discussed the idea. Arun had built the tech for Pulkit’s previous startup prototype Personify – Home Automation Solutions while they were studying in IITB and Prashant had collaborated with Pulkit for designing the art arena during college cultural festival Mood Indigo. Pulkit and Bimal approached both of them and rest is history!
As team was looking for another good talent to support the technical development, we reached out to Nirav Sheth who was pursuing MS, Computer Science in US through a common friend. The idea and observations excited him so much that he dropped out of his college to join us full-time here in India eventually.
To study the market Trell started first with hosting meetups and photo-walks to understand blogging as a phenomenon and whether people feel a need of having a visual blog.
The team interacted with more than 1000 bloggers & travelers at a personal level to realise their needs, restrictions of existing platforms and gaps in the ecosystem. Finally, they decided to form a dedicated platform for them where users can effortlessly create visual blogs and share their journeys or trails.
Trell launched the prototype with basic functionalities and only invited people who were into blogging to join it initially, 90% of invited users joined platform. “A lot of them created over 100 posts in a day with the format we provided and our servers crashed as we were unprepared for such a response!” says Pulkit
About Starting-Up Early
We asked Pulkit about what he feels about starting up at an early age and he says “I started up first at the age of 21, I used to pick up courses where I did not have to study much to score passing grade or didn’t have to attend classes so that I could focus on startup full-time.”
While you are in college it’s easy to build a team from scratch of people whom you know for long and can trust in the journey ahead. There are no responsibilities, fresh flow of creative ideas and no unnecessary distractions from your goal. The earlier you start, the earlier you learn from failures and do iterations to fix it.
“Everyone left their job/college and came together in a small flat to build Trell dedicatedly. It was a big decision for every-one of us especially when you don’t have any revenue flowing and no guarantee of success”
Trell is in advance talks with some prominent investors for closing the angel-funding round. This will allow them to focus on enhancing the app experience and fuel user-base growth going ahead.
About Founding Members:
Chemical Engineering Graduate from IIT Bombay in 2016. A perfectionist and an all time achiever with recipient of Technical Roll of Honor, Best Office Bearer and Technical Person of the Year for
exemplary contribution in IITB. Co-founded the home automation startup with Pulkit before Trell.
MBA from NITIE in 2015, Center of Industrial Excellence, Gold Medallist in ECE Engg. from JNTU. Founded SciMine (Data Analytics) startup and worked previously as lead IT consultancy for ITC, GE and Infosys and bagged Best Employee Awards for extra-ordinary performance in each firm.
Dropped out of Masters in CS, New Jersey Institute of Technology (USA) in 2016. Ex-Ernst & Young. Nirav loves playing with numbers and likes to keep a hawk-eye on various usage patterns to
come up with the innovative solutions.
Masters of Design from Industrial Design Centre at IIT Bombay in 2014, Designed experiences & engagement frameworks for Cortana and Bing Incubations with Microsoft R&D. Prior to that, designed for Tizen OS, ChatOn application and VR Gear with Samsung R&D. Started-up previously in social shopping facilitator and merchandising space.
Electrical Engg. Graduate from IIT Bombay in 2016, interned at Qualcomm & filed for a technology patent there. Started-up previously in Home Automation Solutions which got into semi-finals of Eureka! E-Cell IIT Bombay, Founding Manager of Finance Club in IIT Bombay and skipped the most sought-after placement season to kick-start Trell.