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Too good to be true? It must be an Indian startup’s April Fool’s Day offer

By Sushma U N

At a time when cryptocurrencies in India are struggling for survival, an unlikely player says that it plans to launch a digital currency of its own.

Hotel aggregator OYO has said it will launch Oyo Smart Coin which will allow consumers to transact on its website with reduced prices. The company made the announcement in a tweet today (March 30).

But wait. Is that true?

While the announcement created some buzz on Twitter with #OYOSMARTCoin, the fact is, there is no such plan. It’s an April Fool’s Day prank—by now an annual tradition in the Indian startup ecosystem.

Online furniture retailer Urban Ladder, too, has pulled a fast one. The company announced that it had launched “The Urban Ladder,” a high chair that comes with built-in speakers, a thermal mug holder, and a charging station.

Try buying one from the Bengaluru firm’s website and you are met with a “Happy April Fool’s Day” banner.

The tradition

No one really knows the true origins of April Fools’ Day or All Fool’s Day, but Indian startups often come up with the wackiest of pranks every year.

In 2016, Urban Ladder advertised a Mattress Tester position.

The job description went like this: “If you’re someone who hates getting out of bed to get to work, this is the perfect job for you. As a mattress tester, you’ll get to stay in bed pretty much the entire day and actually get paid for it.” It sought candidates who loved sleeping so much that they could “put Kumbhakarna to shame” and showed “a complete lack of enthusiasm and drive.”

Not surprisingly, many even applied—ever willing to give up their high-paying jobs for this one. The truth was revealed by the end of the day, though, much to the “aspirants'” disappointment.

The same year, wedding planning website WedMeGood spread the “news” that the Indian government had opened the Taj Mahal as a wedding venue.

However, nowadays, wary Indians mostly brush these aside.

For instance, this year, Uber Eats announced the launch of its limited edition anti-ageing ice cream that claims to fight eight signs of ageing.

While the company refuses to comment on the matter, many called it out without much delay.

Meanwhile, a March 29 tweet by Ola this year said the company would soon share some news.

When contacted, Ola refused to clarify. The company has followed the April Fool’s Day practice for a while: In 2016, it announced the launch of Ola Rooms, which allowed patrons to spend a night in their cabs for just Rs249. The year before, it advertised a helicopter aggregation service, Ola Chopper.

So don’t hold your breath anyway.