When two Delhi College of Engineering (DCE) graduates start a company and say that their mission is to make people smile and spread foolishness, you need to pay attention to what they have to say. They want to make people smile and feel optimistic, which is quite a bold statement to make. (Needless to mention here, quite an interesting venture to start!)
Divyanshu, co-founder of 21 Fools, says that the seed idea for starting the e-magazine came as they were tired of reading negative news stories and reports in newspapers and magazines. The idea first surfaced during a road trip around Rajasthan. They wanted to create a positive impact on the readers and present negative news in a different way. Divyanshu met Surendra, the other founder, at DCE and that is where the journey of 21 Fools started. On the 12th May, 2010 the e-magazine was launched.
21 Fools is a fortnightly e-magazine and includes Daily News, Podcasts, Video Diaries and other interesting content. Their goal is to become a full-fledged online media house. Shifting base from Jaipur (where they were based out of) to Mumbai was the natural next step. The 21 Fools family is growing rapidly with a number of freelance writers, graphic designers, etc joining the team.
YourStory caught up with the founders of 21 Fools and had a fun chat with them. Both Divyanshu and Surendra actively participated in DCE’s annual cultural festival. While still in college Divyanshu tried his hand at entrepreneurship. He started an informal society called ‘Endeavour’ in the first year itself and by the fourth year he started a city based social network called www.boljaipurbol.in .
Surendra wanted to become ‘the best coder in the world’, but meeting Divyanshu put a brake on that plan. He made a full-length feature film with industry level equipment and a budget of over Rs. 15 lakh. The film was premiered on Doordarshan on 5th September, 2010.
Interestingly, 21 Fools says that it was less of a challenge at the beginning. The real challenge has begun now. According to them putting together the right team was the biggest challenge. They did not want professional writers or journalists. The passion for writing was what they were looking for and also people who were willing to work as volunteers.
Over a period of time the founders built a great rapport with the writers and they have now become part of the family. The initial challenge has now become an asset. Besides Divyanshu and Surendra, there is Samarpita Mukherjee, who is the editor, and Kaumudi Bharadwaj, who is developing content for the greeting cards portal. Then there are numerous volunteers who contribute articles, photographs, graphics etc on a regular basis.
The 21 Fools family is taking their mission of ‘We Make People Smile” to the next level.
So how are they doing it?
They are poised to expand their offerings and launch a greeting cards portal. In the age of instant messages and Facebook status updates, 21 Fools is passionately trying to bring the personal aspect of greetings back in business.
The portal is under construction currently and 21 Fools is collaborating with another startup called Zepo, for the same. It is slated to be launched on the eve of Valentine’s Day.
There is no revenue model in place for the e-magazine and they want to keep it like that. If things go according to plan the greeting cards portal will bring in the revenue and support the magazine as well. So far they have not approached any VC or angel investor and are channelling all their energies towards making the new portal a success.