7 questions and answers that'll reveal the story behind ScoopWhoopJubin Mehta
I'm sure you know what we're trying to do with the headline. Decreasing attention spans, a growing 'bored at work' audience, the race for pageviews- all these reasons have given rise to this ever growing new form of content. Brought mainstream by BuzzFeed in America, there are numerous sites that have come up across the globe to ride the wave. There are ongoing debates about the future of content and whether this new form does any good but the audience at large continues to consume. Sites like BuzzFeed, Upworthy have got astronomical numbers in terms of traffic and ScoopWhoop is doing the same in India.
ScoopWhoop has five co-founders who are in the their mid twenties and know each other from their Indian Institute of Mass Communication days. The guys- Rishi Mukherjee, Saransh Singh, Sattvik Mishra and Suparn Pandey- worked for WebChutney while Sriparna Tikekar, the lady in the team worked with DoneByNone.com in her previous role. They were friends outside of work and were huge fans of the likes of Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Thought Catalog etc.
We knew that a lot of Indians were consuming this kind of content. But we also realized that most of the content coming from these sites were very global/American in nature. We felt there was an opportunity here for Indian content, in the same format. And that is when we started ScoopWhoop as a side project in August last year. We still had our day jobs and post office hours, we used to work on SW.
Since August last year, the company has grown at an astonishing rate and is currently amongst the top 150 sites on Alexa. We got in touch with Sriparna and team to know more about the business and their views on the current state of media. Here are the seven questions and answers that'll tell you more:
YS: As a company, what was the vision with which you started? What does ScoopWhoop want to be?
SW: I don't think we had any vision back then. We were just a bunch of 20 somethings trying to have fun with Buzzfeed style of content in India. We weren't even sure if it would work. In our very initial days, we did not even think of ourselves as a startup. But things changed the moment we started putting content on the site. Our very first article went viral and in the first month itself we started getting traction, brands started approaching us for advertising. We suddenly realized this is something that can work. The proof of concept came in no time.
The vision for ScoopWhoop is to be an out-an-out social news and entertainment company. We want to be everywhere, from current affairs, politics, sports to funny listicles and share-worthy videos. The idea is to be a publication in the league of the legacy players.
YS: SW has seen a phenomenal growth, what do you attribute this to?
SW: We are very proud of the team that we've built. We have some of the most creative writers who form the editorial team. So if you have to ask me one reason why we've been successful, it'll be the content that we create. From day one, our stories started going viral. At that time, we had no media budget, no tech wizardry, and no revenue stream.
YS: What is the team strength at the moment?
SW: We are currently a 12 member team. 7 are hired.
YS: What is your revenue model?
SW: Our revenue model is native advertising and sponsored stories. Some of our clients include Pepsi, Godrej, HUL, Budweiser, MakeMyTrip etc.
YS: Digital media is undergoing some massive changes. What are your views?
SW: That is both exciting and scary. Exciting because there’s so much to learn and explore. And that is also the scariest thing. You need to keep your eyes and ears open and stay up-to-date. Every day there’s so much happening; it’s very easy to fall behind.
YS: What do you think of the blurring line between media, content, ads?
SW: This space has definitely gotten more interesting as globally online advertising seems to be moving from traditional display models to more native formats. It's still nascent and while the debate is still raging between the fine line between pure editorial/content and branded content and how much is really enough, I feel native models are definitely better from the reader's/user's POV. But at the same time, it is important for the user to know what he is reading, editorial or sponsored.
YS: Your thoughts on competition in the space.
SW: Competition is always good. It keeps you on your toes, and there is always something that you can learn from other players.
I think since we started, some 20 other sites have come up, while a lot of established publications and legacy players have also entered this space. But it doesn't worry us. We like to believe that we've built a loyal base for ScoopWhoop; and it is only growing month on month. Plus, India is a hot bed for content and with internet penetration only increasing in India, it gives enough elbow room to multiple players.
Media is in a very interesting space right now and different models are being worked out to see what works best. What are your thoughts on ScoopWhoop and the entire space?