We love shipping viral growth features.


Everyday at Jana we give millions of people free internet access. Our mission however, is to make the internet free for the next billion people. To help us reach more members, we recently launched Airtime Gifting, a way for members to share airtime between friends and family. Our hypothesis was that by making free internet more fluid and liquid, members would use their airtime to help bring users into mCent and also become more engaged with us in the process.

We chose to build this feature for the following reasons:

  • We had a considerable amount of our airtime sitting in our users mCent accounts that was not being converted into free data: Why not put that airtime to work and use it to give free internet and get us more users?
  • With our large member base, we were convinced that this feature would be more successful on our platform than many of our competitors.
  • Making airtime more liquid meant that each dollar earned would be more valuable for our members.

As a company, Jana believes in testing and validating every feature that we ship. So naturally with gifting, we wanted to measure how effective it was at driving growth. The challenge with measuring gifting was that the more users with access to it, the better it was. A simple A/B test wouldn’t have measured the exponential effects of gifting when all members had access. For example, if you had the ability to send a gift to someone, but none of your friends could receive them, you probably wouldn’t use the feature.

To deal with testing network effect type features, we could have used tools like snowball sampling. Google is famous for using these techniques when they release new products like Google Inbox or Gmail. That would have taken us too long to build. Instead, we prioritized shipping gifting to all of our users, as opposed to building an invite mechanism. 

We started our test at 1% exposure, meaning 1% of our users had access to gifting. Gradually, we ramped exposure to 25% over two weeks. The main objectives for our test were the following:

  • Ensure that the feature was working, and fix all major bugs
  • Prove that Airtime Gifting didn’t have adverse effects on our core metrics (retention, growth, ARPU)
  • Determine if gifting was being used fraudulently.

We were explicitly not testing for any improvement to our metrics in the A/B test as we knew gifting would only reach it’s potential when many densely connected people had access to it. Measurement of gifting impact would come after we had fully launched the feature, which we did a few weeks later.

One of my favorite things about being a PM at Jana is that everyday we get to see the immediate impacts of the features we’re launching. Airtime Gifting was a huge hit! Locals began writing blog articles about our gifting feature almost immediately after we launched and our members were also really happy we launched the feature.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 11.49.13 AM

Blog article about how to use airtime gifting in India.

Almost all of our facebook posts had members talking about airtime gifting, and our google play reviews were full of members writing about the feature.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 11.51.14 AM

Users talking about airtime gifting. (Some of them weren’t in the right test group to see it yet.)

So what did this all translate into in terms of user engagement? Not surprisingly we saw an increase in our DAU numbers in the days after we launched gifting. To analyze the data, we looked at users that received gifts, users that sent gifts, and users that did neither on their first day. We learned that:

  • 16% of users sent or received gifts on their first day after joining mCent
  • Users that used airtime gifting were more than 2X as likely to refer their friends to mCent
  • Users that sent or received gifts were over 10% more profitable for us, and generated more revenue than those that didn’t. 

From a macro level, we saw record growth and DAU numbers after gifting was launched and never looked back.

DAU Numbers

our DAU numbers

Everyday at Jana, we have the ability to shape the future of internet access. To level the playing field, we believe everyone should have unfettered access to the internet. Internet access is a right, not a luxury, and features like gifting help spread that right to millions of users across the world. Did I mention we’re hiring?


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