Bolo Indya Is On The Mission To Empower A Common Man: Varun Saxena, Founder, Bolo Indya
In an interview with BW Businessworld, Varun Saxena, Founder, Bolo Indya, talks about company’s inception, existing competitors, funding and expansion plans.
Brief us about your business model like what made you to start Bolo Indya?
After a 4.5 years stint as the founder and CEO of a successful MBA Test Prep Platform ‘Career Anna’, I decided to build towards creating value for language internet users, based on my learnings at Career Anna.
I identified a strong use case for deriving value in videos and love for raw and short videos amongst the users. To check out the interest of people, I interacted with many – bus travellers, people who keep chatting sitting on tea shops, panchayats, unemployed but educated youth and people earning up to Rs 25,000 in tier 1 but roots in tier 2 and 3.
I found the undercurrent demand amongst the users for finding easy access to structured language content in the form of short videos, which adds contextual value to them. I foresee the demand to come out full-fledged in a year’s time and that’s when these users will run to spend significant daily time on an infotainment platform, and not news or entertainment.
After having worked for four months on different cases, I finally hit the inflexion point and that’s when Bolo Indya was officially launched on 11 May 2019.
Bolo Indya is a user-generated content platform enabling users to create two-minute videos sharing their knowledge, experience and opinions across interest areas, and taking the videos to the local language audience sharing similar interest areas. While video creators may earn as well as find a way to increased social capital, consumers become the part of a strongly knit interest-driven community.
What are the unique key points of your company? How are you different from the existing competitors?
Bolo Indya is on the mission to empower a common man from Bharat to emerge as the Knowledge Super Star of India. It empowers video creators to enhance the reach of their content multi-fold, and at the same time allows them to monetise the quality video content which gets popular on the platform.
For short video lovers, it acts as a source for quick knowledge bytes in respective languages. It also allows users to interact with each other based on common interests and language, thus bolstering a strong interest-based social networking and community.
Unlike the existing competitors where the focus is either on entertainment or commerce heavy videos, Bolo Indya takes pride in the fact that every video byte on the platform adds value to consumers, thus enabling the access to structured value-adding content in their own language.
Our platform allows users to share their opinions on Social, Political and Economic issues too; thus fostering a new social networking mode among the users driven with the blend of the new form of content, the trust of the community and new relationship graph with existing technology.
What thus differentiates Bolo Indya is its focus on creating a daily use case for language internet users which could add contextual meaning to them beyond just entertainment and news. And this effort is translating to high DAU / MAU ratio for the platform.
What is your monetization model?
As far as monetisation is concerned, I believe that profitability is easy in the platform’s context because the cost of acquiring content is almost nil for a user-generated video content platform. However, the team is neither chasing profitability nor monetisation right now.
The sole goal right now is to build a strong, sustainable and virally growing distribution. And simultaneously strengthen engagement for both video creators and consumers at scale.
How has been the people`s response so far? What are the traction details (like users, app downloads & other achievements of the company)?
The platform currently offers content in 8 Indian Languages – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bangla, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi and Malayalam.
In a short span of seven months since launched, Bolo Indya has reached 1 lakh Monthly Active Users, and around 43,000 Daily Active Users spending more than 16 minutes daily on the app. More than 4 lakh videos have been created till today, garnering 248 crore views and being shared 7 crore times on the platform.
How do you look at expansion? What are your marketing plans?
Coming January 2020, the company will add Oriya and Punjabi as languages. This will make the content available in all 10 primary Indian languages on the platform.
Over the next 12 months, the company will focus on improving the technology infrastructure, including its recommendation and personalization engines, and expand the number of video creators on its platform.
It will also introduce video filters and effects to bolster the ease of video creators while creating video bytes.
With the aim to strengthen the bond of Bolo Indya community, company will soon be announcing the maiden edition of Indya Talks, where most popular Bolo Indyans will deliver talks on their experience and opinions in respective interest areas, as well as Awards will be given to the creators and consumers based on their activities on the platform.
What has been the biggest learning’s so far?
The biggest learning so far has been that the language users prefer raw content, delivered by the ones who come from within themselves, i.e. a common man. While they may consume PGC temporarily, what glues them to a platform is UGC, and once they build trust, relationship and community; they remain very loyal to the platform.
What is the market size and opportunity?
Indian language internet users are likely to grow to 53.6 crore by 2021 as compared to just 19.9 crore English language users. That’s a little less than one half of India’s population.
Out of 53.6 crore users, more than 45 crore users would be the consumers of short videos, more than double of e-commerce or fin-tech platforms during the same time period.
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