Kamanashish Roy, Debate.fm: Online platform to start a debate on any topic under the sun

By Team YS|1st Jun 2011
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YourStory caught up with Kolkata-based entrepreneur Kamanashish Roy to learn more about his business idea Debate.fm, an online platform that enables people to start and participate in debates on practically any topic.

Kamanashish, the premise behind Debate.fm seems simple enough. But how is Debate.fm different from other online forums?

Forums are mainly threaded discussion boards. But when you think about a debate, there is a specific content presentation format. We have tried to simplify the offline debating process so that general users can participate on a debate and share their views. General forums are not developed to run a debate. At debate.fm, we have 3 layers of user engagement and social media runs at the core of the system.

How did the business idea for Debate.fm come about? How much capital was required to implement the idea?

I was watching a debate on nuclear power plants on TV. And the idea started taking shape then. Next day, I came to office and talked to my partners. We stayed back at office and at around 4 PM, we launched the first prototype – indipost.com with just one debate. The next day, we started promoting that debate and we were more than happy with the result. We were sure about the platform. We started searching to find out if something like it was available or not! After thorough research, we found that there were none on the lines of how we were thinking about it. Within 3 weeks, we launched the first version of debate.fm.

The capital investment is in the form of manpower and that costs a lot. We are lucky to have awesome partners and colleagues who would work for extra few hours every day to make the dream come true. We are sure that if Debate.fm goes on to be extremely successful, we will all benefit from it – in every sense of the term.

Debate.fm Founder

Tell us about your background. I did my Masters in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University along with a diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication. After one year in advertising industry, I joined an online marketing company as a content writer. In the last 6 years, I have learnt and done SEO, social media marketing, website designing etc. For one year now, we’ve been running our own company WebPrachar.com where we offer similar services to offshore clients. Debate.fm is one of our products.

Where do you see online forums and Debate.fm five years from now?

For a year or so, I have been watching a strange thing. Online Indians are open to discussing sensitive issues without hiding their identity in an open platform like FaceBook. This is a huge change in psyche, especially among the new generation users. It is not like interacting in another online forum – you always have your identity at stake when you are interacting in FaceBook.

In next few years, you will find similar platforms, with more such identified individuals. This is just the beginning.

What is Debate.fm’s revenue model? Have you been funded?

As far as the revenue model is concerned, we do not want to disclose it now. However, we can definitely say that we will not follow the traditional advertisement model for debate.fm. Right now, our only target is to develop the platform in such a way that it helps people.

And no, we are not funded. In our company, we divide our time between client projects and in-house projects like debate.fm. We are trying to gradually alter the ratio and focus completely on our in-house projects. We will open up for funding as soon as we are ready to scale.

What are the challenges that you faced while developing your forum? How did you overcome those challenges?

The biggest problem we face is managing time between client projects and in-house projects. In the past, we have seen that the in-house projects suffer the most in crucial situations. They lose priority. We constantly keep on finding opportunities, set up short milestones and try to focus on the core product (MVP). We keep on talking about debate.fm within the team and it works.

How big is the team behind Debate.fm? Give us some info on team composition. Are you looking at hiring?

Each and every team member is contributing their best at debate.fm. I would especially like to mention names of Saikat Sengupta, Sumana Chakraborty, Priyanka Singh, Sumit Datta and Tanumoy Hazra for their contribution. To add to this, I must talk about the emerging and vibrant IT ecosystem in Kolkata where small and medium entrepreneurs help each other in different product development phases. You will soon see more awesome products coming out from Kolkata.

And yes, we are always looking to hire awesome people. We also offer stake to our colleagues in one of the in-house products that he or she would be working on!

How has the journey been so far?

Debate.fm is just 45 days old. Right now we are getting an average time on site of 5:12, bounce rate of 41%, 47.60% new visits and 5.20 pages per visit from 181 cities and 44 countries. AND we are yet to start full-fledged promotional activities.

We at YourStory wish Kamanashish and the entire team working on Debate.fm much success. To check out this platform, go to www.debate.fm. Also, do subscribe to our RSS feed for more such interesting business ideas. Please share with us your thoughts about the same by writing to feedback@yourstory.in.

Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 1st June 2011 | Bangalore

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