Built With MongoDB: FanPlay

Pritesh Kumar and Bharat Gupta co-founded FanPlay Technologies at the beginning of the pandemic that shook the world in 2020. With their real money gaming (RMG) product, they’ve joyfully brought thousands of people together across India in a safe way, while establishing the country’s leading gaming app.

For this segment of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we spoke with Pritesh about their company’s business model, how MongoDB is working to their advantage, and what celebrities are already utilizing their platform.

MongoDB: What prompted you to build FanPlay?

Pritesh: The emergence of COVID-19 really prompted me into the startup world again. I’ve been a founder in the past, and I knew that at this time a lot of new companies would emerge, so I decided to be part of that. The idea for FanPlay came from observing Cameo. I was really impressed by its strong viral growth and its monetization of influencers. I think these micro influencers on the platform, although they don’t make a lot of money for a single video, can add massive value to any business.

And at the same time, we were looking at the RMG industry, which was and still is the fastest-growing space in online gaming. But there is a real problem of very high customer acquisition cost. So, we put one and one together and started building an influencer-led, RMG platform.

We get influencers to host real-money trivia games for the fans and followers on our platform. Typically these influencers promote their own shows on their social media platforms. They gather an audience from YouTube, TikTok, and various other channels, and then they come to our platform for the gaming experience. The audience usually pays a small entry fee. From that entry fee, a prize is created, that prize goes to the winner of the game, and from that prize we take a cut. So this is our business model.

MongoDB: What was your initial vision for the product, and what does it look like today?

Pritesh: The product has changed a lot from what we initially envisioned.

We started with a web app initially because we thought that acquiring users on the web would be much easier, but then we launched our free Android app and it did very well. From there we launched our paid-entry model. So the product has gone through three iterations so far.

In the beginning we worked a lot with Instagram influencers and realized that we needed to be working with influencers on YouTube, and specifically with people more regionally significant to India, where most of our business is at the moment. We have also expanded to hosting established faces from Instagram and YouTube.

MongoDB: Can you tell us about the scale of the platform?

Pritesh: Currently we work with about 500 influencers that have a lot of visibility, and we host roughly 20,000 active users daily, from India. Typically we run about 20 games per day, and we’re working to scale that to 100 per day.

MongoDB: What does your tech stack consist of?

Pritesh:The app is built in React Native, and the back end is Node.js. Then of course for a database we use MongoDB.

MongoDB was a very clear choice for us. From a professional standpoint, as an early-stage startup, you don’t know what your product will eventually turn into, right? How will it evolve in the next six months or a year? So it’s difficult to stick to a schema. Therefore, you need a lot of flexibility. Because of our need for flexibility, SQL was out of the question, so we needed to go with NoSQL. Once we decided on NoSQL, MongoDB became the obvious choice because of the community support and documentation.

As a founder, I believe in really fast execution and putting your product out there, rather than waiting for a pitch-perfect product. And that demands a lot of flexibility from the business, product, and tech sides, because we need to be able to make immediate changes based on the features that are demanded and that catch the users’ attention. With MongoDB, we are able to try a lot of product variations or tweaks very quickly.

MongoDB: As you've scaled, is there a particular MongoDB feature you've benefited the most from?

Pritesh: There are a few features of MongoDB Atlas that have benefitted us a lot. One is the performance metrics. It’s really really amazing, actually. You can get a very clear picture of the state of your database in a single snapshot. It helps you buy time to focus on shipping your core product and the technology behind it. It removes your focus on database management and cluster management and just does it for you right out of the box.

Also, Atlas handles all of the sharding and scaling. And something that I didn’t foresee but found very useful is its scalability. Startups tend to start at a scale where the free version of any cloud product would be good enough, right? But then you quickly move into a very different kind of need and scale. It just keeps on changing! Atlas gives us that flexibility to scale up really quickly with a very minimal amount of effort.

MongoDB: Have you used any of the MongoDB for Startups services?

Pritesh: Yes! We had a session with a technical advisor. I found it really helpful for addressing the key features we are launching in the future, and the main challenges we are going to face when building them. I was able to discuss those and was very satisfied. The session was really good for us.

MongoDB: Who is the most well-known celebrity to have hosted a game so far on FanPlay?

Pritesh: The comedian Kumar Varun!

MongoDB: Who is your favorite TV or game show host?

Pritesh: Amitabh Bachchan, who is a household name in India for his acting and for his role as host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire).

MongoDB: What is your favorite podcast or blog?

Pritesh: The InfoQ Podcast. It goes deep into how organizations build challenging tech products.

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