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A Toost To Easy Searches

A search for a plumber on Just Dial gives an exhaustive list of more than 10-pages of contact details for plumbers. For a task as mundane as finding the right handymen, the hundreds of ‘unfamiliar’ choices seems to be a promethean task.

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Can I trust him? Should I let him enter my house? Is he quoting the right price? Will he do quality job? These are some of the questions that arise every time one looks for a merchant online. 
 
It is to add a trust factor and make searches personalised that  Rohit Raghav and Chandan Gupta, co-founders of call blocking app Phone Warrior, launched a local search app Toost. Combining personalised search and caller ID services, the app, is a direct competition to Just Dial which is a yellow classifieds on the web, according to Raghav.
 
How Toost Works
The app uses phone graph and big data technology to show search results for businesses that have been recommended by the contacts in your phone book.
 
Let’s say if you are searching for a painter from the app then it will show all the painters your phone book contacts have endorsed. And, every time you use a business or service, the app will ask you to review the service with a rating and a comment. So, if all the users keep giving reviews to local businesses, it can create a very strong, reliable and a democratic network for businesses and services. It is to celebrate this power of a community driven network that the founders call their app Toost which is a Dutch word meaning to raise a toast.
 
The logo, says Raghav, is of four people whose arms are spread out to hug each other. “The image formed is the symbol of infinity showing the infinite potential of social network,” he adds. 
 
Right now it has a database of around five million businesses on its portal. One of the strengths of the business is that it is already pan-India as the company doesn’t have to physically go and list the services in the platform, says Raghav. Toost is not only a discovery platform but a recovery one too. It maintains a call log to help track services you used but didn’t save in your phonebook. Along with that the app has a caller ID and call block feature to identify and block businesses that spam you with multiple calls.
 
Dev Khare, managing director of Lightspeed Venture Partners, feels that the transaction platforms in e-commerce for services such as travel, food bridge several gaps, including discovery, quality, convenience, cost and reliability. However, what Toost does better is it uniquely adds word-of-mouth and trust to local services through their IP developed around a new and proprietary social graph, which are the contacts in your phone book.
 
The company did a soft launch of the app in January and launched it officially in March 2015. There has been two million installations for the app since then and almost 10,000 people use the app daily to search.
 
Funding
Toost raised seed investment and a pre-series A funding from Lightspeed Ventures in December 2013 and Jan 2015 of close to a million dollars. With the fund, they will create a drag and drop interface for a seamless user experience and add more features in the app.
 
Right now the focus is on product development and getting more users. They will add monetisation stream by year end by partnering with businesses and earning on a lead generation model, and also from advertisements by merchants.
 
Toost is currently available only on Android. They will launch the app for the iOS by September end.
 


Tags assigned to this article:
toost rohit raghav Chandan Gupta sonal khetarpal
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