Magzter’s journey to 6 million users and more; In conversation with founder Girish Ramdas

18 months ago, when Magzter was looking to pitch the idea of an online magazine store, specific to mobile devices, not many gave them a chance. Having persevered with the idea, the Magzter team is finally seeing large scale traction for their app. Assisted by a booming tablet market and clever user and device targeting, Magzter is one of the top apps on the iOS store and boasts of over a 6 million user base across platforms.

Here are some thoughts from Girish Ramdas, Co-Founder and CEO, Magzter:

Magzter-founders

Magzter Founders Vijay (right) and Girish (Left)
Image Credits – americanbazaaronline.com

About the offering

Magzter spent the founding days working on the platform. Over the last 6 months, Magzter has focussed on international expansion.

“A large portion of our 6 million plus user base comes from the US, UK, South Africa and India. Prior to targeting these markets, we were doing something close to 500 to 1000 downloads a day. Now we’re doing close to 40000 + downloads a day,” says Girish. They have also seen a huge uptake on tablet devices.

Screenshot from 2013-02-26 17:48:54

The Magzter website

Magzter’s primary focus is the reading inventory. The platform currently has over 1500 magazines and will be soon expanding to books as well.

“People want more content to consume, and a surprisingly large chunk of these people want it on mobile devices,” he says.

In lieu of getting more content providers online, Magzter has a single click publishing system, called ‘Orey Click publishing’. A content provider can upload and publish content which is customized for reading on mobile devices, with single click of a button, a process that Magzter is trying to patent.

Building a user base that pays

Magzter

Android Tablet App

It is hard to envision building a 6 million plus user base without intensive marketing, but Girish shares that their marketing efforts have been minimal.

“We really haven’t done much marketing for Magzter. Despite this, seeing it do so well on a platform like iOS, where there really isn’t much assistance from them for promotion, is very heartening. But truth be told, we haven’t invested as much time and effort into marketing as you may be led to believe.”

Magzter has a Windows 8 app as well. Microsoft extended a lot of support for marketing their Windows 8 app.

“A few weeks ago, Magzter was featured on Microsoft’s Facebook page, where they announced the availability of Magzter on Windows 8. That page has close to 10 million followers, and we got some great traction for the Windows 8 app because of that.”

Magzter makes money when people buy magazines from the app. About 15% of their user base are paying customers. Over 90% of the paying customers are on iOS, and many of them are based overseas.

We hear of apps with huge user bases with no clear monetization, often waiting for a larger company to pick them up for their users. Magzter isn’t one of them.

Magzter, from day one was meant to make money. There was a definite revenue model for Magzter and that’s really working for us. If you look at others in this space, say Flipboard for example; they have a massive user base, but really haven’t figured out a good revenue model,” says Girish.

Why we like Magzter

Magzter iPad

Magzter iPad App

India doesn’t have a large enough mobile device user base which will pay for digital content. Magzter’s success can be credited to their global mindset. Catering for every device possible is another reason for Magzter’s success. Magzter has put in a lot of thought about the audiences’ preferences, and worked on making the right kind of content available for them.

To round off their offering, Magzter also offers region specific content, something hard to find on other digital platforms. Their app does not offer the best of experiences, but Girish states that they wanted to focus on the money making aspect first, and then worry about other aspects.

Magzter’s business strategy has been to expand the breadth of offering, cater to audience tastes and get paying customers from the start. They consciously chose to work on aspects like app design at a later date. While purists may argue about design and features in the app, we find their business strategy smart.

Download Magzter for all your favourite magazines on your mobile device.

Raghu Mohan

Raghu Mohan

Raghu is an electronics engineer from Anna University who has a keen interest in mobility and consumer technology.He predominantly works on stories for tech entrepreneurs and startups. He is also an active member of the Bangalore Android User Group, a regular speaker at BarCamp Bangalore and is part of many other technology communities. You can follow him on Twitter @Raghum200