[App Fridays] IIT-IIM duo’s Cruxtor provides news aggregation in a timeline format for better understanding

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In this digital age, there is a large volume of content generated every day and it can get overwhelming for readers as they keep track of what’s going on around them. In most cases, stories and coverage on mainstream media resume where they left off and some readers or viewers struggle with the continuity as they may not know the context.

Having an overview of the timeline of events makes it easy for readers to keep track when it comes to complex topics like net neutrality and government policies which the laymen may find overwhelming or confusing. To tackle this pain point, Sanchit Bansal and Tarundeep Singh started Cruxtor.

What is it?

Cruxtor is a web and mobile app based news aggregator that keeps readers up to date on news and stories of their interest through a timeline of how it played out. The app aims to provide context to current headlines by providing users a timeline crux in under 10-15 headlines. Sanchit adds, “You come across a trending news article and do not understand what is going on because the event started sometime back. You did not follow it from the start and hence wish if someone could tell you the entire story from the beginning in a chronological manner so that you understand the current context better. This is what we are aiming to solve.”

Users can keep track of breaking and trending news across several categories such as politics, business, sports, entertainment, business and technology. Users can also ‘follow’ certain stories of their interest which can be tracked separately under ‘My feeds’ section.

Idea to execution

Cruxtor (previously storyline.co) was founded by Sanchit and Tarundeep, batchmates from IIT Delhi, out of a personal need. During his first year at IIM-A, Sanchit needed to keep up with the news for class discussions and also while applying for internships, but he found it difficult to understand the context in a few cases. He ended up having to ‘google’ and go through the entire timeline of events manually from different sources to get the full picture. So he felt the need for a service that would make this easy. Sanchit added:

I found that when I searched and arranged content in the form of a timeline, it looked like a story, a chain of cause and effect relationships. Then I went through some of the research done on the human mind and found that our brains are actually wired for storytelling and we understand things more intuitively when it’s presented in the story form.
L to R: Tarundeep Singh and Sanchit Bansal

So to work on his startup, Sanchit rejected a Wall Street investment banking job offer, and his Co-founder Tarundeep, who had worked as a strategist with Tower Research for 2.5 years, quit his job to start working on the idea. They came out with a web-based product titled storyline.co and got good traction and feedback from readers. They then realized that the world and India were shifting towards mobile, when it came to their reading habits and hence decided to develop a mobile app for the same and rebrand to Cruxtor.

The app is currently free to download and use and they plan to monetize it in the future through advertisements or monthly subscriptions and open their API to offer custom solutions to consultants, bankers etc who may want tailored niche content. Cruxtor aims to be active on both web and mobile apps as they don’t wish to miss out on traffic from desktop web. Their primary focus at this stage will be on the app though and they plan to launch on iOS soon.

Cruxtor works on different algorithms and they have automated a large portion of their content aggregation process. Sanchit said, “Adding an update to an existing timeline has been automated to 80-90%, and creating a new timeline involves about 60% automation. In all cases some level of human intervention is needed though.”

Others in the sector

There are multiple platforms which offer in depth news and analysis for niche content and hence there are multiple news aggregators that make it easy for readers by distributing quality content from different sources. NewsRepublic India, Newsinshorts, CanWord are some apps in India in this sector while Vox has a service titled ‘Vox Cards’ on similar lines.

What we liked?

The web and mobile versions of the app are self-explanatory and easy to use. The User interface is good and it’s convenient to swipe between different tabs and track different stories. The ability to ‘follow’ certain stories of interest and get updates under ‘My Feed’ or through push notifications adds to the appeal.

What could be improved?

As the app is relatively new it currently doesn’t have too much depth of old content and hence the search bar doesn’t throw up too many results. The desktop version of the app is slightly more advanced and includes a tab ‘Most followed timelines’ which is currently not present in the mobile app.

YS verdict

Cruxtor is an interesting app with a value proposition of providing a bird’s eye view on how different news stories are playing out. While this is much needed for certain stories that are complex and require context, users may not find the need in all cases.

The founders remain optimistic and feel that readers will get used to this format and may find it to be a more convenient way to consume news in the long run. It will be interesting to see how they scale, increase the volume of content and monetize their app in the future.

Website: Cruxtor

Featured image credit: Shutterstock

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