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Healofy: Growing an online community with App Engine and AutoML to empower women all over India

About Healofy

Healofy is an award-winning, women-only social networking platform in India with a mission to empower Indian women from the time they get married and beyond. It aims to build vernacular communities in nine languages for women to freely express themselves, create their own networks, and find friendships with others in a similar life stage. From pregnancy planning and women’s health to lifestyle, travel, and beauty topics, women are free to chat and share resources on the platform. Launched in 2017, Healofy aims to become a community-led social ecommerce platform for users to run their own businesses as a mode of income in the near future.

Industries: Technology
Location: India

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Healofy uses Google Cloud to help empower women in India by providing a round-the-clock personalized support network at their fingertips.

Google Cloud results

  • App Engine enables lean IT team and minimal overheads so Healofy can focus on continually improving app capabilities
  • Translates more than one million words into nine languages daily to reach women in cities all over India
  • Personalizing lifestyle content to suit women's interests with machine learning capabilities of Cloud Auto ML and Vision AI

Supporting 650K daily active users and 1.9M monthly active users with zero downtime

There's something amazing about the collective power of women. Research has shown that when women turn to each other for advice or to share ideas, they become more successful in business and in life. That’s why, in a country like India, where women get married at an average age of 23, having a community for women to gather is so important. "Women get married pretty young, and it happens around the age where they’re just starting out in their career, especially in second- and third-tier cities in India," says Gaurav Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder of Healofy, a social platform designed to empower Indian women. He explains that after marriage, women are expected to find balance between their new identity as a wife and later, as a mother.

"As a digital native company, we've always been operating in the cloud, but it was only in 2018 when it started scaling up that we realized the importance of having an infinitely scalable platform, and turned to Google Cloud. We've not seen any downtime since."

Gaurav Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder, Healofy

Healofy started as a parenting and pregnancy support app for young mothers but has since become a leading social network for women in India. It serves as a safe space where women can enjoy lifestyle content, connect, and network with each other. The app has more than 650,000 daily active users and 1.9 million monthly active users, and as its success grew, the Healofy team began to look at scaling up its infrastructure to support that growth. "As a digital native company, we've always been operating in the cloud, but it was only in 2018 when it started scaling up that we realized the importance of having an infinitely scalable platform and turned to Google Cloud. We've not seen any downtime since," says Gaurav.

Building an app that women can rely on

One of the biggest users of App Engine in India, Healofy attributes its rapid growth to being able to keep overhead low and the IT operations team lean. "The ability of App Engine to scale from zero to infinity without any need for infrastructure management is great, because we don't need to hire a team to manually manage and troubleshoot infrastructure issues," says Gaurav. Instead, the team can focus their attention on figuring out what users really want and need, to provide the best possible solutions by improving the Healofy app, as well as introducing new features over time. “App Engine scales based on app traffic, so it enables us to keep overhead low by only scaling up when needed. We can let it run without worrying about under or over provisioning, which has been very beneficial in saving cost," says Gaurav.

Healofy sees more than four million sessions daily, requiring up to 1,000 instances set up at any given point of time. Many of its users are first time internet users who are accessing the platform from an Android device, so the team has to keep the app simple and intuitive. "A lot of things happen at the back end all the time, but we need to ensure that the app remains very simple to use and understand," says Gaurav.

"Cloud Firestore has helped us build a reliable real-time chat experience with up to one million concurrent users at any given point of time. All we have to do is to figure out the right problem statement, and then we can leave everything else to Google Cloud."

Gaurav Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder, Healofy

For example, people can join chat groups on the app based on their interests, life stage, and location. Each of these groups have users anywhere between 1,000 to 50,000 people at any given time, and it has to be available around the clock. "Filestore has helped us build a reliable real-time chat experience with up to one million concurrent users at any given point of time. All we have to do is to figure out the right problem statement, and then we can leave everything else to Google Cloud."

With its entire chat experience built on Cloud Firestore, the team of engineers at Healofy can focus on the user experience, such as ensuring that the app remains as user friendly as possible, even when it introduces new enhancements.

"All the content that appears on Healofy goes through AutoML and Cloud Vision before it is served to the user. The machine learning capabilities of these tools helps personalize content for new users who may have little historical data on the platform."

Gaurav Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder, Healofy

Harnessing AutoML and Vision AI to personalize the feed for users

Healofy strongly believes in the importance of personalization. With such a broad range of topics covered on the app and a large amount of user-generated content, the feed needs to be personalized to a user so that it is relevant to them. The way to do this is to first capture and categorize all the data that comes through in the right places. "All the content that appears on Healofy goes through AutoML and Cloud Vision before it is served to the user. The machine learning capabilities of these tools helps personalize content for new users who may have little historical data on the platform."

Gaurav says the team uses Vision AI to ensure that every piece of content that comes in the form of images and videos get mapped in the right category, so that they appear in the right interest areas. In turn, this helps the women connect with like-minded people based on the type of content and the topics they are interested in.

Apart from chat content, Healofy receives more than 50,000 pieces of content in the form of images, videos, and question and answers daily, which is categorized on the platform immediately, building a wide repository of information. This information gets served to its diverse set of Indian women on the basis of their interests, life stages, and their actions on the app.

Healofy office space

Supporting multiple languages

To be relevant to women across the region, Healofy supports up to nine different languages on its platform. Gaurav explains that although most people in India create content in English due to the default adoption of English keyboard on smartphones, they are much more comfortable and prefer to consume content in their own language. This is why the team frequently needs to solve the problem of transliteration on the fly. It uses Cloud Functions to translate more than a million words daily based on the context in which it is used.

Creating an established ecommerce platform

According to Gaurav, many married women play the role of a "CFO" at home. They make the purchase decisions for the household, but most of them are only limited to the offline world. They are social shoppers and use their offline network to make purchase decisions through trust and recommendations. "Our goal is to build that similar offline experience in the online world through Healofy," he says. When women feel safe to express freely, this helps them to build their network even in the online world (on Healofy), and this further helps them to transact with the help of each other. Within four months of its ecommerce launch, Healofy supports more than 3,000 orders daily.

"Women are making purchase decisions through other women who are experts in a particular category and through group buys, where they can purchase items at a lower price due to the bulk orders made collectively through chat groups," explains Gaurav. This has also opened doors for women to take commissions off every purchase they organize.

So what's next for Healofy? According to Gaurav, the company will be heading in the direction of livestreaming. Here, women will be able to sell their different skills, from teaching pregnancy yoga to English language, even knitting sweaters for their kids or conducting child psychology seminars. "I believe we have a long-term partnership going with Google Cloud. Having seen the capabilities of Vision AI and AutoML, I think Google has a very strong ecosystem of products and services that will help us in data science in the long run," says Gaurav. "As a company, we want to go deeper into AI technology to build a great personalized ecommerce experience for our users. We believe this is possible with Google Cloud."

Man addressing room full of people in a seminar

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About Healofy

Healofy is an award-winning, women-only social networking platform in India with a mission to empower Indian women from the time they get married and beyond. It aims to build vernacular communities in nine languages for women to freely express themselves, create their own networks, and find friendships with others in a similar life stage. From pregnancy planning and women’s health to lifestyle, travel, and beauty topics, women are free to chat and share resources on the platform. Launched in 2017, Healofy aims to become a community-led social ecommerce platform for users to run their own businesses as a mode of income in the near future.

Industries: Technology
Location: India