Doosra offers a 10-digit, SIM-free virtual mobile number that users can share at any public place where they are compelled to share their personal mobile numbers.

This Hyderabad startup gives you SIM-free virtual mobile number that blocks spam calls
Atom Interview Thursday, November 26, 2020 - 20:49

Aditya Vuchi never liked sharing his mobile number at stores, or other places that would result in several spam calls and messages. But the real tipping point for Aditya happened a few years ago when he walked into a sports goods store and the cashier said they can’t generate a bill if he didn’t give his mobile number. “I come from a digital marketing background, so I understand how personal data is taken and how it is then fed into multiple systems for monetisation and I felt violated and walked away that day,” he says.

This got Aditya thinking as to why he couldn’t have another number that he could give in such situations. This gave birth to the idea of having a virtual mobile number, which could handle both calls as well as SMSs, says Aditya, who is the Founder and CEO of Doosra. 

Doosra is a Hyderabad-based startup that offers a 10-digit, SIM-free virtual mobile number that users can share at any place where they are compelled to share their personal mobile numbers. The idea is to get rid of endless spam calls, messages and also reduce the risks of getting defrauded. If you need to give your number publicly, whether it’s at an insurance portal, car dealership, restaurant, matrimonial or dating website, these are all scenarios where you can give your Doosra number. 

Talking about the product, Aditya says, “We launched Doosra about 8 weeks ago in mid-September but we’ve been working at it for almost 2 years, primarily because we needed to work with telecom operators to bring this whole virtual mobile number concept. It has always existed in the enterprise world though companies like Exotel, Knowlarity etc. and all the cloud telephony providers. But we are excited to bring this product to the consumer space.”

Doosra is different from other caller ID apps like Truecaller in that it is a secondary phone number and does not access your contact list, whereas the caller ID apps basically work on your primary number. This also means that your primary number continues to get circulated.

Aditya says that all incoming calls to a user’s Doosra number are blocked by default and go straight to voicemail. “We have essentially flipped the notion of a mobile phone. If somebody has your number, they can call you and you can decide to block them after the fact. Now, Doosra is exactly the reverse where nobody can call or reach you except the people that you allow. We took all the use cases where you would give your number at public spaces,” points out Aditya.  

However, there are three scenarios where you can allow calls to come through. The first is by adding as a trusted contact. If a number is added as a trusted contact, then it will bypass the call blocker and get forwarded to your regular number. The second instance where you can turn off the call blocker is by time and the third is by location. If you want to receive calls at a particular location, Doosra will ask you for your current location and as long as you are within a 250-metre radius, all calls will come through to your primary number but the moment you drive out of that place, the call blocker will come back on. The radius is determined using your GPS location which has to be turned on. “This is the only time when the app asks for access to your location. We want to be very cautious and conscious of what permissions we take on your phone,” says Aditya. 

The fourth aspect is the notion of services that a user trusts. “We have tied up with Swiggy, Zomato, Dunzo, Ola and Urban Company and we are tying up with other companies as we speak. We have integrated the entire Swiggy set of numbers on to the Doosra app in the form of an on/off toggle. If the toggle is on, you will receive calls from Swiggy and if it is off, you will not,” explains Aditya.

However, the Swiggy call will only come through as long as the delivery person is calling from the Swiggy system, but if for any reason they get access to somebody’s personal number and try to call from their personal phone, the call will not go through. “This is especially useful from the point of view of women’s safety,” asserts Aditya. 

One user can avail one Doosra number per registered mobile number. Aditya clarifies that when somebody calls your Doosra number, the caller gets a message that the number they are trying to call is not available. However, the person with the Doosra number will get a push notification that this particular number tried to reach you.

“Hence, you don’t lose out on the fact that somebody tried to call you. Further, if an unknown person calls you and doesn’t leave a voicemail, you have the option to call back that number. In this case, when you call back the number, what the receiver ends up seeing is a landline number, so neither your primary number nor your Doosra number are ever exposed,” Aditya explains.

Doosra currently offers two plans: One is a six-month plan at Rs 499 and the other, an annual plan at Rs 699. “As we get feedback from our users, we plan to introduce new features. Next up is a free trial which will be released in 3-4 days. Other features include the ability to manage their call blocker better, increased list of trusted services,” says Aditya. 

Talking about the response to the app, Aditya says it’s still early days. “It took us a long time and we worked with telecom operators to bring this product to market. By virtue of that, we are the first in this space. While it’s only been a few weeks, we have thousands of users with a Doosra number and they use it actively. Overall, as a system, we are seeing a 30% increase in call volume week-on-week.”

Aditya says the aim as a business is to focus on building for everyone who intends to not share their personal number in public places. “Our overall market is the 120 million online shoppers that need to have a better way to communicate with merchants and vendors.”

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