Have you ever tried to find a person in your town or anywhere in the world by a name or phone number without browsing through millions of search engines, directories and phonebooks?
In 2009, two students studying at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, wished it was easier to look up phone numbers for the missed calls they received from family members living abroad. They could not find a fast and easy solution to discover who called. With this problem in mind, Nami Zarringhalam and Alan Mamedi created the fledgling startup Truecaller, which first lived on an online forum. Amazingly, they saw 10,000 downloads of their app within a week! The downloads came at a time before App Stores existed and downloading apps to your phone was a big hassle.
By 2010, the Truecaller app had gained a strong user base. Alan and Nami had flexed their friendship muscle into a couple of other startups which eventually gave them the opportunity to quit their day jobs and focus on Truecaller full time.
Truecallers vision was to make it easy for people all over the world to get in contact with each other. They originally thought of connecting all white and yellow pages around the world. As Nami and Alan continued to research the market, they soon discovered that many directories provided poor results. For example, White Pages in America could not find numbers to mobile phones since operators do not share that information. Unlike in the Nordics, where theres a busy and competitive market place with many phone directories to choose from, large markets such as India had no existing public directories. In India, there are approximately 960 million mobile subscribers of which 97% have pre-paid phones. With poor, if any, public directories to build from, along with the vast amount of pre-paid phones, the depth of the problem became obvious.
How could Nami and Alan build a global phone directory to cover markets where no public directories are available? How could they include numbers to pre-paid phones? It seemed like an impossible task. They realized soon that great things are built in collaboration with others. So, they simply asked their users for help. In order to improve number lookup results and expand the database worldwide at a rapid pace, would people be interested in sharing their phone books with Truecaller? In return, users would benefit from sharing by being given free access to this new and extended database, and be able to look up phone numbers. Fast-forward in time, and it appears that this collaborative take on building an accurate and complete database has been a success. Together with people from all over the world, we reinvent the way people get in touch by creating a collaborative global phone directory that fits in your pocket.