Probably due to the fact, when it comes to creativity, one makes use of the left facet of the brain (signifying creativity, passion, and impulse). On the alternative hand, to be a cutthroat, successful business proprietor one has to utilise sides such as logic, evaluation and reason, all of that are associated with the right mind. And the twain shall never pass collectively.
Or, so it's far said.
What the naysayers didn’t expect, were an intrepid troupe of six human beings – six creative people who worked in marketing and their vision to make content that become cool, interesting, and relatable to the Indian millennial.
Meet Sattvik Mishra innovative personality, ex-adman, and one of the six co-founders of ScoopWhoop, one of the virtual platforms that places out funny, kitschy, and applicable pop culture-related content. The other 5 in the cohort are Suparn Pandey, Rishi Pratim Mukherjee, Sriparna Tikekar, Debarshi Banerjee, and Saransh Singh.
“Five folks went to the equal university – IIMC – and graduated in 2008-2009,” he starts offevolved. “But Rishi, Sriparna, and I had been right batch pals doing advertising. And then, after university, Rishi and I joined Webchutney, I as a lowly copywriter and Rishi in customer servicing. Sriparna changed into at McCann Erickson where she turned into additionally a copywriter. We labored on a group of campaigns for brands which includes Microsoft, Bacardi and its sister brand Aristoff, Coke, GSK (Glaxo Smith Kline), Airtel and so forth. I even got bumped as much as Creative Director over the following few years. But our heart turned into no longer in it. We had been bored of doing traditional marketing,” he adds.
It was additionally round this time that the institution of pals, all in large part creative and largely doing well of their respective jobs did what all millennials in India had been doing. Got hooked on, well, to Western pop culture. “We might go through all these sites within the US that had viral content along with Diply.Com or Huffington Post or maybe a Buzzfeed. And we realised that this identical culture was being replicated right here in India,” he stocks.
“All our courses around that time, aside from those in mainstream media, had been American in nature, speakme about their TV suggests, their issues, and their troubles. And the pop culture that did exist in India changed into US-focussed. So we decided to do something positive about it.”
ScoopWhoop: Origin Story
“I vividly do not forget, but it was the long Independence Day weekend of 2013. August 14, to be exact. We have been all putting out with every different in a person’s rental, drinking, having amusing while we concept, severely that we ought to try this – start a internet site and submit Indian pop culture content. Of path, we were all quite buzzed so I assume that was a factor in our favour as we embarked on this loopy concept,” says Sattvik with a giggle.
The website become duly created, but then while it came to naming the assets, a lot of dialogue came about. “We had been pretty fried by then, I will admit. We’d written a pair articles and were just discussing names. Shortlisted about 20 of them. And had been studying on terms related to information Someone, I cannot exactly take into account who, recommended ‘scoop’ which stands for catchy tales, and ‘whoop’ which means to kick ass,” he stocks.
“We are all Indians, right? And in Indian parlance, we additionally say roti-shoti, yahaan-wahaan. Words rhyme. So considering the fact that our content material turned into also authentic-blue Indian in nature we decided to go along with the rhyming ScoopWhoop and registered the site,” he adds.
According to Sattvik, the second article posted on the web page – If Game of Thrones were made in India, which Bollywood actor would celebrity in it – went viral. And the tale did now not cease there.
“We couldn’t agree with it ourselves but inside months we hit five Mn particular customers. We labored at our day jobs, Rishi and me at WebChutney and wrote content material at night. And we have been in entire stealth mode for the first few months,” shares Sattvik.
“But the first-rate evidence of idea we were given turned into while we walked into office one day, and all our colleagues have been glued onto the web site and had been sharing the posts and speaking about it in fashionable. And that changed into when we commenced thinking, ‘Ok, that is real. People like this. We can simply work on it.’ And nobody in workplace even knew it become us.”
The manner Sattvik places it's far that the advert company’s CEO Sidharth Rao got here to recognise about the duo’s extracurricular activities and known as them in for a meeting. “We had been so certain this was now not going to move properly, however rather, Siddharth turned into pretty supportive of our project. He even went up to now as to mention that we need to quit our jobs and do that full-time.”
And, Siddharth placed his cash where his mouth turned into, by using turning into an angel investor within the nascent business enterprise, in keeping with Sattvik.
“That became while we convinced Sriparna and the others too to sign up for us, took up a small farmhouse in Delhi in December 2013 and officially released operations on ScoopWhoop by incorporating it,” he adds.
“We Spent The First Year Learning How Content Works”
According to Sattvik, Siddharth turned into joined in the Seed round (undisclosed) via Haresh Chawla and Manish Vij. “It created a runway of about six-8 months for us. And two matters befell within the intervening length – manufacturers commenced taking observe people and approached us for advertising and marketing and traders showed interest in us. All of which similarly set up evidence of concept,” says Sattvik.
As in line with Sattvik, the team of six went up to 11 among January 2014 and September 2014. “We spent these months simply learning approximately how publishing works. We had been all content material humans at heart, and had to find out about the commercial enterprise from scratch, which changed into a tremendous mastering curve for us,” he adds.
He additionally talks about a meant acquisition provide from a leading Internet company in September 2014 which they had been very enthusiastic about, however in the end did no longer receive it.
It turned into within the first 12 months itself, or close to to it, that Bharti Softbank provided the biggest increase to the media startup and invested $1.5 Mn in a Pre-Series A spherical, acquiring approximately 36% stake within the agency for the same. This investment became also one of the motives why the sellout didn’t take area.
“By the time we finished expertise how media works and who our audience is and all of that, we crystalised at the vision for the employer – to construct a worthwhile media company for young Indians. We had built a widespread crew of 30 by then and realised that to grow to be a big scale publisher with legitimacy, we had to separate the content material we had been doing into information and leisure,” says Sattvik.
That become while the enterprise changed focus and pivoted to its present model of being a platform that does amusement, information, video (short and long-shape) content.
Delineating Content: Because ‘Only X Can Write For X’
“We take the news table team very severely,” says Sattvik. “With the investment we got, our first task was to increase on our USP – content and hire the right people for the task. This covered hiring for each news and the extra entertaining facet of the platform.” As in step with Sattvik, in the meanwhile, the content group at ScoopWhoop stands at 90 – with about 25 members on the information desk and 65 working inside the creative phase. The overall crew strength is a hundred and fifty, all of whom operate out of the equal farmhouse in Delhi as whilst the organization began.
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The creative crew does memories and studies-primarily based tales on meals, tour, and pop culture-centric activities. One of the most popular varieties of posts is listicles.
The information crew puts out timely, applicable information objects touching on social, political and sports activities occasions in the country but with a distinct goal to goal the relevant target market. “Maybe because we did now not include a journalism background, however for us, news is democratic. Legacy publishers like TOI, DNA, Hindu used to dictate what news could pass wherein. But we believe that news and its intake is also tremendously subjective,” he opines. He gives a totally fundamental example – A 20-year-antique might be inquisitive about Kim Kardashian’s ultra-modern wardrobe selfie, a 25-12 months-old would need to recognise where the good excursion spots are, whilst a 30-year-old will want to realize how demonetisation is affecting him.
“In different phrases, publishers have to now not dictate content material, along with news. And the opposite facet of the coin is, X can most effective write for X.” When precipitated to elaborate at the instead mathematical declaration he says,
“We cater to a tremendous demographic and convey content material precise to all of them. A 40-yr-old can not write for a 20 yr TG and vice versa. So we've a various blend of writers who write the manner their target audience can read, assimilate, engage, and soak up,” he says.
Armed with those learnings and insights, ScoopWhoop released new verticals – Gazabpost (a Hindi language imprint) and Vagabomb (catered closer to Indian millennial girls) in February and March 2015, respectively. And then, as Sattvik puts it, “We spent the subsequent six months building up the editorial crew.’
According to the co-founder, the platform additionally hit 20 Mn particular customers, up from eight Mn users in February 2015.
“Video Is Our Main Focus”
Sattvik and the team at Scoopwhoop then ventured into the world of motion pictures with ScoopWhoop Talkies, each quick form and non-fiction and a web series known as ‘Baked’ – a sequence focused around 3 buddies in a Delhi engineering college and their catering business, their capers, their love existence and, of course, marijuana – which resonated with its target audience. “We have had numerous brand interest in the enterprise with Pepsico, PNG, Paytm, Myntra, Nestle etc. Coming onboard. In reality, Baked is backed through Maggi,” shares Sattvik.
But the organization doesn’t simply do creatively pleasing, barely risqué videos on socially applicable or trending topics, it does hardcore investigative pieces too. “We do information segments which might be 3 minutes to 4 minutes long, on modern-day affairs. We additionally do documentaries where in we check out deeper memories that have an effect on and effect the u . S ..”
He names ‘Chase’ – a documentary at the stone pelting incidents in Kashmir, in which the crew became embedded in Kashmir for over six months filming the footage till they got enough material to make a holistic film. He additionally mentions a tale that the crew did on manhole scavengers in Mumbai, a hard, thankless task.
“We try overlaying both ends of the spectrum – entertainment as well as news. Because we agree with that any writer that doesn't take video significantly in the close to future is going to go through the effects,” he says.
Of Sales Targets And Acquisitions
“In 2016, we decided to focus on the business aspect of the enterprise,” says Sattvik. “So a long way, all of our sales era have been completely inbound. We did no longer invest, per se, in a income group.” According to Saatvik, ScoopWhoop generates revenue in ways – 20% via show advertising and marketing and 80% thru local layout advertising.
While Sattvik is reluctant to speak profitability and proportion real revenue figures, he does say, “Revenues have doubled inside the remaining months.”
The company also raised a Series A spherical of $four Mn led by using Kalaari Capital. “We used that money for expanding our income team and exceptional-tuning our tech. Expanded loads more into video from a group of four to an inhouse 40,” he says.
It was because of this that the enterprise determined to gather Touchfone Technologies for an undisclosed sum, which runs StrmEasy, a streaming platform with a low bandwidth and usage tech so it is able to be accessed by means of users with sluggish connectivity.
“We had been in verbal exchange with the founders at Touchfone for three-4 months, but the dating become that of a vendor-customer. But we had been very inspired with their generation as it become forward-questioning and made us recognize that the next institution of customers who will come onto ScoopWhoop could be from Tier II cities where Internet penetration and connectivity remains an issue that desires to be solved at scale. So we wanted a platform now, rather than building one in-residence which could have taken us near a yr, that would accomplish some tasks for us,” he says.
When brought on to speak about the tasks he says, “We had hit 20 Mn particular users quite rapid and based totally on our content by myself. But the concept was to turn the 20 Mn into a hundred Mn customers across gadgets. For that we need to build out our tech so we could distribute our content material on all systems – be it a cellphone, a laptop, or a tablet.”
“Historically, all of our advertising and marketing has been approximately buzz creation,” he provides. “Brands method us and we create content for them with a view to allow them to have interaction with our audience in a meaningful way. Now, we need to take this a step further with our acquisition.”
According to Sattvik, Strmeasy has a built-in analytics dashboard that lets in manufacturers to configure the type of target market it wants to goal for a specific messaging campaign – close to demographic, geography and so forth. “And plus, we certainly cherished the team at Touchfone. The founders come with great experience in building and strolling teams and growing slicing aspect tech, which we feel we want in the mean time. So we spoke to our Board and satisfied them to consider an M&A,” he shares.
Talking Numbers And The Competition
“Our video perspectives for November 2016 rated a total of a hundred and fifty Mn, of which the information department contributed about 30 Mn – forty Mn. Last 12 months, we were nowhere near those kinds of numbers and we didn’t have the bandwidth to get here till we raised the Series A,” he says.
He additionally stocks that the organisation rakes in 33 Mn unique users consistent with month – in general throughout Vagabomb, Gazabpost, Scoopwhoop on all structures. Monthly engagement of content material across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter in November 2016 totalled three hundred Mn, claims Sattvik.
With the acquisition of StrmEasy, the crew’s purpose is to originate and bring lower back the video views to ScoopWhoop’s platform itself – instead of relying on social networking platforms. “At the coronary heart of ScoopWhoop, our understanding has always been content. But we know that going ahead it's miles going to take a combination of data analytics + data science + content to make it to the pinnacle,” he says, with touching candour.
ScoopWhoop is right in assuming the mantle of looking ahead on the way to scale. For whilst new age media can be a exceedingly new area to have emerged in the Indian publishing landscape; it is full of assured, installed players such as Quint, Scroll, Storypick, MissMalini, POPxo, Little Black Book, TVF, Buzzfeed India, and Huffington Post India who are all after the same audience – the new age Indian Millennial.
But Sattvik has a slanted opinion on those the crew considers opposition. “The virtual publisher panorama is a extraordinarily new animal in India. Also, the top spots are still occupied via legacy publishers which includes TOI, NDTV who generate about 60 Mn particular users a month. We are already midway there,” he states. “With the kind of numbers we’re pulling, to do not forget a Quint, Scroll or Storypick who handiest pull approximately 1 Mn-7 Mn unique users is not precisely honest. So, we recollect the legacy publishers to be our actual opposition.”
He additionally provides that the scenario inside the US is greater complex and cutthroat because the ceiling to break thru is a cool one hundred fifty Mn precise customers. “With our generation and the way our content is being shared and consumed by the target market, we're very proud of where we're for the time being. So we do not bear in mind ourselves an entertainment media organization as a lot as a publisher.”
He does upload that it is ‘not a winner takes all’ kind of situation. “But there are simplest five-six seats on the desk and we do believe we've got an amazing hazard of bagging one,” he says.
The Road Ahead
sattvik-mishra“Well, as continually, we're focussing on content material. Mostly video. Fiction is a totally crowded area and so we would like to pay attention to non-fiction pieces. Because, right now, the content this is available, virtually sucks and it's miles a area ripe for disruption.” He adds that the group is operating on launching 7-10 suggests in the non-fiction genre throughout classes together with journey, food, and amusement.
Distribution, as in advance mentioned, is also some other core cognizance for ScoopWhoop.
“We don’t care in which human beings devour our content, as long as they do! We are absolutely platform-agnostic. The concept is to take those three hundred Mn perspectives and flip it into 1 Bn views in the subsequent six months and take our unique customers in India to 50 Mn,” he ends, chuckling.
For a enterprise that began off on a drunken weekend between friends, the plan may also seem audacious, however the road ahead also appears possible.
As Sattvik rightly factors out, with the arrival of Reliance Jio and the proliferation of smartphones across the country, community connectivity is the massive game changer. This automatically points to the reality that video content goes to play a massive element in how publishers (legacy in addition to newer entrants) try to advantage the attention in their audience – millennials, who have shorter interest spans and are always searching out better, cooler, more approaches to occupy their time and spend their incomes.
ScoopWhoop – with a cautiously curated content strategy this is uniquely Indian in its ethos whilst ultimate true to the worldwide Indian’s sensibilities – does appear to have grasped the complexity of the marketplace and is trying to leverage its USP through slicing side tech and acquisitions. But with its compatriots together with MissMalini, FilterCopy, Scroll, Quint and others quick catching up in phrases of popularity and jostling for a chunk of the market pie, will or not it's capable of reach its goal of acquiring 50 Mn unique customers by using next year, that stays to be visible.