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Comet Broadcast - WhatsApp Radio serving 25,000 members with Quick News Updates

The tell-tale beep and flashing notification light indicates a new Whatsapp message. Not the casual banter from the high school group or the random smiley sent by a bored friend. Instead the phone periodically chimes with little nuggets of information: a traffic block here, a sale there, a new shop opens its doors and a company awaits new recruits.
The brainchild of Kochi-based duo Vijitha Sharma and Gokuldas, the service called Comet Broadcast is now over a year old and has already more than 25000 members availing the service in Kochi, Hyderabad and Dubai. Comet Broadcast, a WhatsApp broadcast service, helps users connect with the city on the move.

According to Vijitha, the increasing demands of professional life do not allow most of the working population to get updates on what is happening in the city, and this prompted the couple to start their initiative. “We realised that WhatsApp is a great medium as it is free and accessible across almost every phone platform. So we decided to provide news, trivia and event updates that people might find interesting. And the updates come in at a steady pace; just enough to keep one updated and not feel like spam.” says Vijitha, who quit her high paying job to focus her attentions on the venture. She explains that the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
 WhatsApp Radio
But where do they get all this information? Gokul smiles as he attributes most of Comet’s information mining to the Internet. “Some of our subscribers also send in information. For example, if someone reports a traffic block, we call them to verify if it is a legitimate snarl or a minor hold up. Even when we get information online, we cross check it multiple times before posting it.”

The ‘Comet Jockeys’ or CJs as they call themselves, have also received many requests to start the service in other cities and states which shall be implemented soon. “We also intend on tailoring more content for NRIs, so that they can get pictures of the rain in their hometown and other updates that make them feel connected with home,” mentions Vijitha.

This duo intends to follow a radio-like model and include new CJs as they go, to bring in a fun element to their updates. “We are in talks with various businesses to advertise with us, so that we can sustain ourselves and provide more interesting information to our subscribers in our own unique way,” they say. Talking about their concerns over sustainability in the ever-changing world of apps as they share, “Yes, there are challenges, like the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook. But, so far things have been steady and there are not many restrictions on what we can do with the medium. However, if things change we intend to create our own app. Since we already have a subscriber base, it’s just a matter of transition.”
Though still at an early stage, the Comet updates have their own flavour. Tourist packages, mobile phone recharge offers and even some trivia about Indian currency accompany each ping and flash on the phone. Broadcast has entered a new age.

To sign up for the Comet Broadcast service, save +91 9048488822 (Kochi), +91 9701565293 (Hyderabad), +91 8179879716 (Dubai) to contacts under the name ‘Comet Broadcast’ and send a WhatsApp message to the same with the text ‘JOIN’.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 12th June 2015.
IJ Anita Tejwani
IJ Anita Tejwani is a contributing writer at Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine.

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