Office address: The 17th floor of a posh office at Nariman
Point, Mumbai’s business district.
Employees: Founder Prince Jacob Thomas, three co-founders — Aditya Dhull, Mohit Narwal, Chandy Thomas
— and two interns. One of these six takes turns to make
cupcakes so that the other five get to work at their stations.
Office space: Big enough for four to five people to
squeeze in along with their laptops. Thanks to Monish
Ghatalia, owner of an advertising company who magnanimously let out his office library to the four to green flag
their unique venture.
Name of the web site: Treetins.com (Treetins is an anagram for interest)
Often heard from people with whom these entrepreneurs
haggle for discounts on promotion material: Kya sahab,
posh Nariman Point main office aur itna bargain karte ho
(Sir, you have an office in the posh Nariman point area
and yet you bargain for discounts).
Aim: To make Treetins.com a platform where
‘strangers can go social’ and create a social network of people based on their interest to take on
Prince, Aditya, Chandy and Mohit hope to
reinvent the Internet wheel that first helped
strangers connect with each other through various messenger services, but later closed itself by
going social, giving you the choice to sift out
strangers from your circle of friends.
This is how people connect on Treetins:
Any user who registers on Treetins has to first
‘Express’ (write) her/his interest. Like, somebody
writing about an honest taxi driver who made
her/his day. While this ‘Expression’ about the
taxi driver will be in the public domain the peo-
ple who read it will have no way to know the person who
posted it. They can only see the ‘Expression.’
Anybody interested in your ‘Expression’ can start a con-
versation with you by clicking on ‘Converse with this per-
son’ tab by writing something in turn. When you receive
this person’s ‘Expression’ you can either start a conversa-
tion — thereby connecting with this stranger — or opt out
of it if you think the person is not genuine.
If you start this conversation then there you are connecting with a stranger on the basis of a shared interest:
In this case the honesty of the taxi driver or anything else
that relates to the ‘Expression’.
“The idea behind Treetins is that you are not connected
You launched in December. What has been the initial
to your own circle of friends and families or colleagues.
The idea here is to connect with strangers. Our unique-
ness is that there is always serendipity when you meet or
connect with a stranger,” says Prince about the venture’s
unique selling proposition or how is it different from say
Facebook. “On Treetins your identity is not revealed unless
you choose to reply to a conversation.”
“On Treetins everything revolves around expressions.
Like what you have to say on a particular topic or an
interest. The other person’s reply is what really determines
whether you have to connect with her or him. Until then
the person who responds to your interest does not know
who you are,” he adds.
Mohit: It has been very good. A lot of readers have invit-
ed their friends and gradually the numbers are picking up.
We are seeing lot of expressions being posted on the site
and the average time spent on the site is close to 40 min-
utes. That means a lot of people are browsing through the
As of now, mostly influencers like tech bloggers and
people in the tech domain have registered in considerable
numbers and we expect to see this number multiply mani-
fold in the coming days.
What was the idea that created Treetins…
Prince: The World Wide Web was supposed to connect
people across geographies. This used to happen a lot in
the days of Yahoo! Messenger. You could randomly con-
nect with people anywhere in the world, share things with
them randomly. But over a period of time networks that
have grown are very closed (Facebook, Google Circles).
From being able to connect to anyone, anywhere in any
part of the world, you are now restricted only to your cir-
cle of friends and family.
Somewhere, a little fatigue has set in and if you see the
behavior of people on Facebook a lot of users are passive
What these passive users do now is browse through pic-
tures, click on the ‘Like’ button because you cannot disap-
point a friend who has posted a picture of her/his with his
Having noticed this behavior we all somewhere felt that
the Internet will have to come full cycle and go to where it
People would want to break out of their network and
connect with people outside their circles.
There were attempts made like Chat Roulette, Omegle,
etc. But the problem with these platforms was the
moment you try to connect with strangers the whole
process becomes weird or creepy.
What we have also found out is that people don’t want
to connect to strangers in the absence of any context. It
makes the whole effort pointless.
In one business newspaper we were reading an article
that Facebook has brought out the stalker in youngsters.
This shows that people are interested in other people out-
side their social network, but they don’t have any proper
means to reach out to them.
We can connect with friends’s friends on Facebook, but
we can’t add them because it would make us feel like
stalkers. You can connect with strangers across various
chat rooms, but there is no context there.
One takes a lot of time to introduce themselves using
A/S/C (short cuts used for age, sex and city/country) and
by the time you find common interest a lot of time has
Most of the times such conversations lead to web cam
invites again making the entire exercise very creepy.
While most of these platforms were started with the
right intention, somehow people don’t have easy and safer
access to strangers with common interests.
The thought behind starting Treetins was to use the
Internet’s ability to reach out to maximum people and cre-
ate a platform where people can connect with strangers
only when they want to.
They are taking
From left: Aditya Dhull, Prince
Jacob Thomas, Mohit Narwal and
Treetins hopes to be an alternative to Facebook.
Prasanna D Zore speaks to the entrepreneurs behind it
January 10, 2014