Chopaal is a free group SMS service, often referred to as a the Twitter of Pakistan. It lets users create groups which others can voluntarily join. Group members can exchange messages with each other just by sending one message to chOpaal which forwards it to the other group members for free. This is very similar to the concept of mailing lists. We also have extended features like moderated groups, one-way broadcast groups, and commenting. People use chOpaal to discuss interests and hobbies, share news, views and gossip, inform and update others, coordinate meetings and events or just chat with friends. We are different from other social networks in a number of ways. One, we primarily operate through SMS; more than 80% of our user base has never logged in on our website. All commands and options are available over SMS. We are the biggest and the only SMS social network in Pakistan accessible across all telecom operators. Two, we are conceptually similar to the micro-blogging website, Twitter, but in terms of usage we differ. On Twitter, the conversation is more people-centered, as people follow people, while on chOpaal it’s more topic-centered, as people join groups and send relevant messages to them. As explained above, chOpaal is a group SMS service. When you send a message to chOpaal, this is what happens behind the scenes. The SMS is received at the SMSC of our telecom partner which routes the message to our SMS gateway. For example, the message received is “Pakistan wins the T20 Cricket World Cup!”. Our servers then process the received message and generate the relevant outbound messages in response. Taking the same example, there could be 10,000 people in the “Cricket” group so 10,000 messages, including the confirmation for the sender, are generated and put in the outbox. Our SMS gateway then routes the messages to our telecom partner’s SMSC which sends out the SMS messages. chOpaal was developed in Pakistan’s top university, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The soft launch of the service for friends and family was held in September 2007, and the official launch for LUMS students, faculty and staff in February the next year. The launch included a Scavenger Hunt which required all teams to sign up on chOpaal, form their groups and send a message to it. That went really well and soon many people in LUMS were using chOpaal for coordinating society activities, informing students, sharing football scores, etc. The nationwide launch followed in a few months.A few months later, we made all features accessible over SMS including sign up, truly making it completely accessible for people with no internet connectivity. From that day on, we’ve enjoyed great growth figures, both in terms of traffic and users. Currently, we’re over a million users and sending almost 30 million messages a month. Since chOpaal’s launch, we’ve been featured in DAWN, Aurora and SPIDER and won awards at PASHA ICT Awards and SOFTEC. Over the next few years, we see us continuing to grow as the leading SMS social network in Pakistan. Apart from being a free group SMS service, chOpaal is also a platform that lets advertisers append contextually or demographically targeted advertisements to messages we send. We are looking for businesses wishing to advertise on our platform and hope to grow this business in the next few years. We are also calling out to more brands and outlets to get on the SMS bandwagon and setup their groups on chOpaal to interact with their customers and get feedback. Moreover we are exploring international markets and may start offering our services to international clients soon.
What we deliver?
Chopaal is simply a broadcast medium that allows users to create and join various communities and share content with each other. In essence, all the content available through chopaal is community generated. Users are themselves responsible for moderating content on their communities and keeping their friends entertained.
Why is the project unique?
Chopaal is unique due to its near ubiquitous nature. Chopaal is the only social network in Pakistan that is accessible over the internet as well as mobile phones. It is accessible over SMS through all telecom operators and the diverse set of communities that are present on chopaal makes it appealing to all demographic groups in Pakistan.
URL/Website – www.chopaal.pk