Do you find yourself censoring your thoughts before you speak out? You can now speak out freely and fearlessly on Voice Without Fear (VOIZD), an anonymous audio social space, without being recognized, judged or labelled, in 30-second voice clips. Being language-neutral, it also allows a platform to those not comfortable in English and relegated to the sidelines in the English dominated online space, co-founder Pooja Daswani tells us. Bootstrapped by a small team in Gurgaon, it crossed 5,000 posts and over 100,000 conversations in the first two weeks of launch and hopes to organically cross a million shared voices in six months. The Goodwill Project spoke to the team behind the initiative.
Tell us about the team behind VOIZD and how it came together.
VOIZD (Voice Without Fear) has been founded by Sameer Agarwal, Pooja Daswani and Rajiv Kumar. Earlier, Rajiv and Sameer cofounded RockeTalk, a Social App which grew to over 22 million users. Pooja headed the Communities and Campaigns for RockeTalk, so the team has been essentially working together for over seven years together on various interesting community-based projects.
How was VOIZD conceived?
During the 2013 general elections, while sharing his opinions on many issues, Sameer was subjected to death threats and troll attacks online. Initially, he thought the trend was restricted to political opinions, but soon realised that society in general has become quite intolerant towards opinions and thoughts that are divergent from mainstream. He also realized that we as a society subconsciously judge and label people based on their every thought and action. Hence, most people are always trying to fit in with the status quo even with basic expressions. This seeded the idea of creating a safe space where people can be themselves. While the app was still on the drawing board, a conversation with an acquaintance made the team realize that traditional social spaces today are owned by an English-speaking audience and people who are not very comfortable with English or other written forms get the hard end of the stick. The team, therefore, decided that Audio/Voice-based expression should be the mainstay of the App, for those who may not be comfortable writing.
An audio message retains the essence, emotion, tonality, leading to a deeper connect between the speaker and listener.
How does it work? Is it like a vocal twitter? Is it interactive?
VOIZD is an online safe space to share your thoughts no matter how divergent they are and have discussions around it. Our users talk about politics, relationship troubles, peer pressures, gender issues, their daily lives and everything under the sun. They speak out as they truly feel, seek advice and share experiences. When one user talked about losing a baby and hiding it from her family, the community came in support without judgment, when another talked about hiding child abuse he got advice on how to handle it.
We don’t like to call it Voice twitter, since Voizd is about having a meaningful conversation. And yes, users can follow each other based on whose thoughts and voices they like. Many people follow others based on their participation and viewpoints in conversations that follow on various topics.
How does it work?
Every time a user wants to share a thought, they simply tap on the record button. They can also add a picture if they like. The VOIZD team also sends daily questions about world events and other topics to which people respond and which acts as a quick opinion tracker.
The idea behind 30 secs is two-fold; it helps in keeping the post focused and, with current data speeds, it helps load the audio faster. We have received hundreds of requests from our users to increase the recording duration and are working on finding the optimum solution for this.
Is it completely anonymous? Would you have maybe verified accounts of celebs/experts/counselors?
VOIZD is as anonymous as you want it to be. The app does not have a signup; when users launch the app, our system generates a username that they can personalize as they want.
We have provided a single swipe voice changer to morph your voice for the added comfort of anonymity.
We are already working on a system to authenticate Experts/Counselors/Journalists and poets as we have received requests from several of them, as this will help our users access the right content as we grow.
What are your hoping to achieve with the app?
VOIZD has a clear mission, to give everyone a platform to speak their mind without barriers of language, education, literacy, social status and economic background. We believe it’s extremely important for people to express their thoughts and that can only be done when they know they can do so without fear.
(For more, visit www.Voizd.com. To download on your Android phone: https://play.google.com/store/