Do you find yourself helpless in an emergency situation, say a road accident or a grave medical situation? Do you call the police or alert your family? Or prefer assistance from a legal professional nearby? Addressing this dilemma, a group of IIT, IIM alumni have launched an app, ruly, that lets you do all the above simultaneously. Ruly, a legal emergency app, uses the GPS location from one’s mobile to find the closest police station and provides that station’s official landline or mobile number anywhere in the country. With this, one can skip calling the police helpline and waiting for the control room to connect you with a police personnel. Rajasthan Post’s Iram Tasleem talks to Ram Prasath, the founder of the app
From where did you get the idea about this app ?
The idea occurred a year ago when one of us amongst our friends met with a road accident near Moga, Punjab. The police helpline 100 was unresponsive. Finally one of the locals helped him. Then I realised that while we have an application for almost everything else, there is no single platform to find the details of nearby police stations. Then we decided to develop this app.
Tell us about ruly app and its usefulness?
Ruly is a legal emergency app. We intend to build ruly as the one stop solution for all legal requirements. We want to drive the legal awareness and legal activism in the country. We have built a platform to help users get a preliminary opinion from verified lawyers for free in real-time. Also, users can connect with lawyers instantly and request quotations for legal work from multiple lawyers.
One of the crucial steps in enhancing legal awareness is integrating the existing system with technology to help users access them better. With this intention, we have included a feature to help the users contact the nearest police station anywhere in the country in case of emergency or to report an accident immediately. On the lines of the central government’s panic button mandate, users can pre-configure upto three emergency contacts who will be sent an sms with the exact location (link to google maps) of the user. Both these features (sending sms and getting contact number of local police station) can be activated by just double pressing the power button.
What were the challenges you would have faced in its manufacturing process?
As the police department is a state subject, there was no unique source or way to get the data for police stations across the country. Hence it was difficult to accumulate the data from each state and union territory individually.
Ruly is the result of team effort, how did you build the team?
An idea for a cab sharing application brought the three of us Nishant Trivedi from IIT Kharagpur and IIM Bangalore, Ujjwal Singh, IIT Kanpur
and me, together. Coming from IITs, we were introduced through common connections. In the course of brainstorming over ideas, all three of us agreed upon a cab sharing application. But we decided to pivot with the launch of Olashare and Uberpool. That is when we decided to startup in the legal tech domain.
When did you launch the app? How much time it took to build the app?
Ruly SOS feature was launched in April 2016. But we had a beta version of the lawyer consultation features by January, 2016.
Is there any other such legal apps in the market with which it has to compete?
There is no legal emergency app in the market that helps users connect with both the police and lawyers. But there are applications that send SOS messages to emergency contacts like VithU by Star
What kind response are you getting?
As legaltech is a new sector in India, there is a need for users to get familiarised with the concept of consulting lawyers virtually. Despite that we are seeing a significant increase in activity on our forum where users can ask legal questions & get preliminary opinion for free.
Do you have any interesting case study in which your app ruly has actually helped the person ?
We have helped over 50 users find the right lawyer in the last two months and nearly 15 startups in transactional work like trademarks filing, registrations, etc.
How many users you have till now?
We have over 1600 registered users on our platform and nearly one third are also using the app.To browse the forum there is no need to register
Has government extended any support for ruly?
Not explicitly. We have been able to collect the data through government channels only. We are trying to receive endorsement from government departments that could appreciate the value of this feature.
The app would help through the GPS system by showing contact details of nearby police stations? Why did you choose only police not medical services or other emergency services?
We want to position ruly as the legal emergency application. Hence our focus is on police and legal community. We have included the data of police stations and it is free for lawyers to use the platform to build their online presence. We verify the details provided by the lawyers before approving their profile. Also, for medical emergency services, it is a combination of private and public sector. Integration of both has been implemented with significant efficiency by the 108 helpline service.
There are so many apps coming every day. How do you intend to make your app stand out? What efforts are you making so that people know about it ?
Ruly is an essential app for everyone in India as you never know when one gets to face an emergency situation. Being a safety app, our uninstall rate has been very low. It is like your primary mail app (gmail in most cases) which you would always want to have in your mobile even if you don’t communicate via mail often. We are promoting through media channels and social networks mainly.
What is your opinion on Net Neutrality since you are actively involved in making apps?
Net neutrality has to be maintained especially for apps like ruly which offer emergency services. It would also affect the growth of startups in the country as it would create an entry barrier for new ventures to foray into a sector with established companies.
What encouragement does one need from the government so that other tech students take up such innovative projects?
I believe the government has already initiated a lot of steps for promoting entrepreneurship at the college level with incubators and funding programmes for students. But the awareness of such programmes is low due to very little clarity about these initiatives in the public domain which can be resolved through better information dissemination. More than the government, institutions and student bodies like Entrepreneurship Cell, IIT Kharagpur have launched initiatives to help budding entrepreneurs in product development, fundraising, mentoring and talent acquisition.
What is the limitation of ruly?
Being a startup, we have limitations in getting the support of telecom operator and government institutions. With their support we can implement a responsive and efficient emergency service. We are in talks to collaborate with them.
Is there any other project in the pipeline?
We are refining our product everyday to make it a standalone tech platform for users to avail legal services. Currently, we are onboarding lawyers from across the country to build a credible network of professionals to help users choose from.
The link to their website and application is as follows