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How Women Focussed Digital Media Startup POPxo Amassed 9.5 Mn Unique Users By Answering ‘What Indian Women Want’

How Women Focussed Digital Media Startup POPxo Amassed 9.5 Mn Unique Users By Answering ‘What Indian Women Want’

Let’s face it. Everyone talks on the Internet and no person will pay interest. The introduction of virtual media has been spurred through the space the Internet has to provide content in actual-time, interactively. This means, while a subject resonates with a person, virtual media permits them to speak back. Combining this idea of providing an interactive and unique platform for women to speak about all the things that count to them throughout geographies, demographics and sensibilities is POPxo.

“POPxo has usually expected itself as a area that provides content that speaks to ladies and women, as opposed to speaking all the way down to them,” starts POPxo founder and CEO Priyanka Gill. The motive for this assertion? Back whilst POPxo first launched in India in March 2014, there has been no unmarried internet site that became centered in particular towards confident, knowledgeable girls migrating from Tier II cities to urban towns searching for higher jobs, higher career opportunities and more.

Today, the women-centric virtual media platform boasts of a monthly common of 10.18 Mn visits on content across its internet site, app. They additionally declare of 1.6 Bn monthly social media impressions in keeping with the trendy reputable declaration from the corporation itself. It not most effective offers text inside the form of articles, videos and the way-to blogs, but additionally has a YouTube channel and has recently brought a social media influencer-affiliate network called Plixxo to further its attain for women to talk, save, and grasp out – basically have the entire content material enjoy right on their 5-inch monitors.

The digital media startup also counts Kalaari Capital, The Chennai Angels, Japan’s GREE Ventures, and IDG Ventures as backers having raised a total investment of $five.5 Mn in 3 rounds, the trendy one being in April 2017.

But, as with maximum startups, it’s the journey that matters as a good deal because the destination, so permit’s dive again to the genesis of POPxo and its evolution from a simple content material internet site to a complete-stack platform imparting that it is these days.

Rebranding From Estylista.Com To POPxo India

priyanka gill-popxoPriyanka has roots in both the United Kingdom and India and, so it became but herbal that after graduating from King’s College, she desired to leverage the Indian expat revel in for her enterprise project.

Priyanka launched Estylista in June 2013 along with co-founder Namrata Bostrom in the UK.  “Namrata and I even have always shared highbrow chemistry and our competencies have complemented every other nicely. That was a key cause for us to work together.” The primary plan lower back then was to create content material specifically aimed toward the Indian diaspora – first and 2nd generation expats who desired to sense a virtual connection with India. “Estylista was started for Indian women living abroad and spoke mainly to their problems – be it splendor like the Style Council, life-style, relationships and many others.”

As Priyanka places it, they experienced ‘small traction’ inside the first few months and have been surprised to locate that most of this visitors become coming from India. And so Estylista looked at India as a possible goal marketplace.

“Stuff like Cosmo, Vogue, Femina and so forth. Existed back then. But there was not a focused virtual media platform like there existed inside the US and UK. No unmarried homegrown writer changed into producing digital-first content that became centered solely for girls at scale. So, we did a simple element. We imagined a woman in India, coming from a positive heritage who wants to appearance a positive manner and has certain troubles she wants to discover.”

And for this reason, the POPxo emblem philosophy became also born. A fun, informative, interactive, virtual-first, content platform for girls.

As Priyanka claims, the website become launched in March 2014 from the United Kingdom and had some 50,000 specific visitors inside the first month itself.

Data + Content: The POPxo Scaling Mantra

POPxo claimed to have 1 Mn specific traffic within the first six months. And the component to be noted for this sort of traction could be that, lower back then there were external factors such as Facebook dating internet site publishers actively with a purpose to create greater engagement with the publishers’ audience and bring them onto Facebook. Also, not like the newly released digital media platform, content material that became in particular aimed toward the present day, semi-city millennial ladies was clubbed together in beauty and lifestyle portals or on virtual variations of magazines such as Femina and Elle.

Refining the internal content process additionally played a part in achieving scale.

“We commenced searching at every piece of content as records, no longer just stuff that we put up at the internet site. This information led us to the mastering that tone could be very crucial with regards to content.”  She mentions frame-high-quality language where thin subculture is discouraged, aspirational and inspirational articles in addition to communicating the sensation that ‘POPxo is there for me, with me,’ as markers they focussed on.

The subsequent factor of the records focussed at the customers themselves: deep profiling them so one can target certain styles of audiences. Priyanka mentions five archetypes that they zeroed in on. These archetypes have been divided most of the 18-25 age organization and the 25-forty age organization. “Each article, be it approximately makeup, splendor, lifestyle, intercourse and relationships wished to talk to at the least one or two of those archetypes to gain most traction.”

By October 2014, the POPxo team had grown to 15 human beings, nearly all running on content material. Two vital milestones happened within the first year of inception. They managed to raise $465K (INR 3 Cr) Seed investment from prominent investors such as Rajan Anandan. The agency and founders moved base to Delhi in January 2015.

2015: Leveraging Video and Style Influencers To Build POPxo Reach

The particular thing about virtual media platforms is that they've to function like conventional guides – monetising nonetheless comes from ad revenues. Be it banners, emailers, links, all of which worked in broadcast and print media because they never essentially took away from the mass content-consumption revel in. When it comes to the digital medium, but, content couldn't play hardball anymore.

Customising for target audience and non-invasive advertising and marketing have become the new marketing mantras. This is a restrictive surroundings, wherein consumer engagement counts (feedback over clicks, repeat customers as opposed to web page perspectives) over some thing else in relation to showing revenue. “We had been very clear on monetising from day one; revenue-era is built into the ethos of the business enterprise. We tied up with brands for subsidized articles and did a variety of on-ground sports.”

She mentions the 2015 Lakme Fashion Week for instance where there was a POPxo Wall of Style for attendees to pose below. Currently, it counts greater than one hundred fifty brands together with Hindustan Unilever, Puma, Myntra, Tanishq, OPPO, L’Oreal, Fastrack and Jabong as customers.

A key workaround that POPxo became able to leverage whilst looking to monetise became making powerful use of influencers. Their maximum precise proposition turned into the Style Council which had the tastemakers of Indian style which include Elle mag’s Editor-in-Chief Nonita Kalra writing content for them proper from the beginning.

This exercise became carried ahead to start with with the POPxo Style Council (which has been discontinued now) followed through SuperBlogger network comprising bloggers from Tier II towns who were blogging from a long time and had a important mass of followers. This become followed by using growing a separate section for upcoming 50 bloggers and a robust pan-India campus community that now stands at a hundred and fifty campuses.

“We wanted to turn out to be the only-stop location for brands whilst it came to native advertising. We offered them a combination of these four blogger networks and ensured the campaigns ran smoothly – from ideation to execution.”

Taking A Chance On Video, Keeping The Focus On English-Based Content

While it would look like everything the startup touched changed into content gold, there were some gambits that did now not pay off. Wanting to leverage localised content material i.E. Hindi, the group launched POPxo Hindi in early 2015.

But it did not scale the way they wanted it to. “Our cognizance got divided between the English and Hindi versions and it did no longer take off the manner we expected it to,” Priyanka admits candidly. The portal nonetheless exists, but has now not been up to date on account that April 2016.

On the alternative hand, like fellow digital content businesses like ScoopWhoop and FilterCopy, POPxo too were given bit with the aid of the video bug and released a YouTube channel in 2015. Much like the different structures, video became an experiment. The content turned into produced by using freelancers and uploaded on the channel again then.

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The content caught to the platform’s logo system of revolving around make-up, life-style and once in a while tipping into recommendation territory. Priyanka admits this although. “Humour makes up a huge a part of our video content material like ‘Annoying Things Every Skinny Girl Gets To Hear.’ Women-particular comedy grew to become out to be an untapped section for us.”

The video arm of POPxo produces about 5 movies a day, quick shape lasting everywhere between 2-five mins. They additionally do logo-precise videos as part of the campaigns going for walks at the platform (any other monetisation avenue). As according to an professional declaration, POPxo video averaged about 116 Mn video perspectives consistent with month in June 2017.

In fact, as Priyanka stocks, video has been their biggest awareness in 2017. The head of video, ex-NDTV, joined in September 2015. Priyanka mentions some campaigns that have run completely on the video segment – such as POPxo Video Star Hunt. The video crew has grown to end up 35-member strong now.

Managing Content In Order To Ensure Readability

POPxo has 33 people inside the textual content team. Priyanka informs me that 85% of the total quantity of employees – 102 (such as advertising, operations) – are girl. She does mention that she isn’t worried in the everyday of the content material side, preferring to consciousness at the business and income side of things.

Content is first divided into classes consisting of splendor and fashion-associated, trending testimonies on girls-centric subjects. “Bollywood is a first-rate launchpad for us. Movie and track releases get huge play on the platform. And we are very sturdy on now not selling gossip of any kind.”

After refining the kind of content that the website produces, POPxo took on the next venture – that of making an app. This turned into around the time that the company also raised $2 Mn in Series A from Kalaari Capital, IDG Ventures with participation from 500 Startups too. The investment become deployed to in addition constructed out the tech team and release the POPxo app. “We have been essentially seeking to construct a network based totally on friendship wherein customers may want to communicate to each other. Engage the content revel in on the app too.”

Priyanka well-knownshows that the app, that's an more desirable model of the internet site, had 500K preliminary downloads.

The app’s content material focussed on a Q&A discussion board, person-generated content material in the shape of polls (four Mn a month at last matter) to offer selective remarks – splendor recommendation, anguish aunt courting advice and dipstick surveys on matters together with ‘Which lipstick color looks higher on me.’

In an in advance interplay with Inc42, Priyanka spoke about the shareability thing of the content material while it got here to apps. “Our task is to present this content – be it on besties, boyfriends, life-style etc. On cell phones, that's the unmarried device to the gateway into our target market’s world. We ought to make certain they tag and click on on our content material so we end up part of their cell global.” At gift, a POPxo app user reportedly spends about 160 minutes a month at the app.

POPxo On Popping Open The Digital Media Space

Cracking advertising for virtual media may be very nascent in India. In truth, it'd no longer be remiss in saying that the virtual media startups are competing with Facebook, Google for generating revenue – the identical spaces additionally they need to promote it in. Brands too are used to the legacy of viewing advertising and marketing – across conventional media which is print and broadcast. The concept of user engagement is one they're nevertheless grappling with.

“That’s constantly been our primary venture,” says Priyanka. “Media consumption has modified appreciably in a quick span of time and types need to keep up with it on two fronts – social media and person engagement. The cellular display screen is the maximum critical manner to attain our audience and we are focussed on it.”

POPxo, at the same time as searching like a sugar-coated female friend experience has trusted the use of information (consumer profiling/gaining knowledge of content) and made it an iterative technique to provide a unbroken intake enjoy. This method has been constructed out each internally and externally and leveraged by the advertising funnel and never taking person engagement without any consideration.

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Perhaps, this is why Priyanka and team have undertaken their maximum formidable task – that of making POPxo World – in which ‘girls can study, watch, shop, and hangout’ all in one region. Through a sensible growth of its influencer network and an affiliate shopping extension with Flipkart and Snapdeal, the agency has elevated monetisation to consist of a ‘click on-purchase-pay commission’ segment.

As she places it, “From the days people having to approach brands to return onboard with us, now it's miles brands who want to associate with us. They come to us now if they want to interact with girls because we are the platform for girls in India, proper now.”

Around this time, Namrata Bostrom, co-founder additionally parted approaches with the POPxo group in March 2017. “Namrata had non-public troubles dividing her time between London and Delhi. The parting has been very amicable.” When requested approximately the effect this has had on POPxo she does upload that, “You simply go with it. And nothing stops the business from walking.”

Dealing With Competition In Indian Digital Media

POPxo has also had a meteoric upward push in catering to the brand new age Indian millennial, similar to virtual media agencies inclusive of Buzzfeed India, WittyFeed, ScoopWhoop, FilterCopy, MissMalini have managed to do in their respective niches. Buzzfeed India and WittyFeed recognition on globally-appealing viral content, ScoopWhoop walks the fine line between information and leisure even as FilterCopy and MissMalini both consciousness on life-style and leisure.

POPxo too falls within the life-style and leisure class, focussing entirely on ladies, however as Priyanka states, “We are not information, nor are we gossip. We don’t cater to those users.” She additionally provides, “Right now, all people are at par with each different. We fortuitously co-exist and I have a healthy dating with the other virtual media founders too.”

But, it isn't always all hunky dory in the land of latest-age virtual media. India has some of the bottom digital ad charges inside the world. ECPM for banner and video commercials are a fraction of what you spot within the West. For example, YouTube eCPM in India is round $3 for a given form of video as opposed to $9-$12 inside the US. In the local advert area, the difference is even starker.

Buzzfeed reportedly charges $30K-$40K+ per article for native advert content. In India this fee is presently round $3K-$4K for massive publishers. Pricing need to improve extensively in India but is not likely to method US tiers. As a result, very high volumes might be required to offset decrease rates. While those volumes are probably, startups should build the era and efficiencies to harness a excessive extent and low charge factor environment, main to a focused warfare among these startups for ad sales percentage and user engagement.

If it comes right down to it, POPxo has competition from ScoopWhoop’s girls-centric portal Vagabomb which has a great social media following, Times Internet’s iDIVA, HuffPost India Women. Within those parameters, POPxo’s positioning as a portal that has distinct get admission to and content for girl users, – has a exceptional sort of competition.

Magazines which include Cosmopolitan India, VOGUE, Femina, Elle and Savvy also deal inside the identical 18-45 age organization demographic and provide content material for them – be it beauty, enjoyment or lifestyle. “But scale is what matters the maximum, isn’t it? How many humans can you attain at any given factor in time?” According to Priyanka, it is this positioning of the logo that has led POPxo to occupy a completely unique space within the ethos of Indian virtual content.

Answering ‘What Indian Women Want’

There are global structures including Refinery29 and Jezebel which additionally cater exclusively to women. Jezebel has located itself as a mouthpiece for the go-getter aggressive woman with robust reviews, even as Refinery29 has maintained a pretty centric function. Refinery 29 does but lay claim to being the most important platform for girls users all around the world with a worldwide Alexa ranking of 2,098.

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Priyanka acknowledges that Refinery29 has the best traffic of their chosen demographic however that India and POPxo content is particular in a pair ways. “For one, it's miles approximately network get admission to with us in conjunction with combining our women customers for trends and insights. We have the records.” She also talks approximately how the Indian ladies’s sensibilities exchange with age and condition, a long way quicker than Western ladies.

“We are constructing this marriage among user behaviour, content engagement and what our users are saying in actual-time to answer the age-antique question ‘What Indian girls want?’”

It is that this philosophy that Priyanka and the POPxo team is banking on inside the near destiny as they appearance to open an office in Mumbai, construct out the income equipment for more monetisation and use the app and social media to growth mindshare with the target market.

The new age, virtual media platform for girls additionally plans on breaking even on a month-to-month coins go with the flow basis through FY ’18. POPxo appears to have the right type of enterprise and sales-led approach to set up a lasting logo in an incredibly brief quantity of time. But, it's miles 2017 and just imparting content material is not sufficient to keep the attention of the user – guys or girls. Will POPxo be capable of scale better at the same time as maintaining that maximum elusive of all metrics ‘user engagement’ can be a tale really worth following.

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