Roonga is the brain child of Evelyn Horng and Frank Tadman. Evelyn and Frank are both friends from the time they worked at MLS Listings Inc. in the Silicon Valley. Both of them have a cumulative experience of more than 34 years and have now given up their jobs to co-found Roonga, a private social network for sharing items with friends and trusted groups.
Roonga is where people go to lend things to people they know. And what does ‘Roonga’ mean? A “roonga” (exact spelling unknown) is a staff carried by the Masai chiefs in Kenya. The founders wanted to bring the small village feel to the company, reminding employees and users of the importance of sharing with those who are close to you, just as the villagers do in such a tight community.
Being based in Bangalore, Infotoros provides business and cloud-based technology consulting services for consumer, social, and enterprise solutions. And with Roonga, Infotoros spearheads the India operations along with collaboration on the development for Roonga. We got in touch with Sunil Murthy, the president of InfoToros to know more about the partnership.
“The product has undergone a lot iterations and has been under development since mid-2010. Overcoming a few hiccups, Roonga has undergone a closed beta testing and is now ready for a public beta,” says Sunil. Talking about taking it to the masses, Sunil mentions, “We are identifying beach heads for establishing user adoption. These are currently under research, but targeted segments include the Boy Scouts in the United States, Religious Communities and Non-profits/NGO’s in the US and India.”
The basic idea is simple and Roonga wants to enable sharing. This is very highly dependent on the ‘trust’ factor and regarding this, Sunil says, “It’s the strength of relationship that enables the sharing of physical goods. Because users in our system choose who they want to share things with, it’s up to them to decide who they feel comfortable sharing their items with.Roonga is simply providing a protected, private environment and tools to facilitate the sharing, and then the rest is up to our users.”
The intention behind the idea are also to be socially impacting. Roonga is in the process of building out a local network of non-profits in the Silicon Valley and Bangalore to connect individuals with real-time, specific needs within the non-profit community. “Our users will be able to make their items available to non-profits, and non-profits will be able to communicate their needs through Roonga. We see this service as a way for Roonga to further re-circulate items within the local community, helping citizens donate items that they no longer need, to help non-profits service people locally,” says Sunil.
Talking about the involvement from their side, Sunil says, “At InfoToros, we believe that the opportunity to be in the forefront of the collaborative consumption revolution spreading all across the world is especially strong in India. Sharing is embedded in our culture and we learn from our value systems, parents, and close-knit family and friends. In fact, it is this core belief that we are excited about rekindling and enabling through digital technology, whether it is the borrowing of a cradle for a new-born baby or lending a wheel-chair to a senior citizen in need.”