When Anjan Purandare, an investment banker in New York, walked home one night after his routine 17-18 hours daily grind, he was so burnt out that he couldn’t recognize his 10-week old daughter. He decided he did not want to live life that way.
“I felt like I was trapped in an excel sheet, and was missing out on these little things of life by working for someone else like a machine. I had become a number crunching doppelganger version of myself, completely sucked out of all creativity,” said Anjan.
This voracious reader was always the creative type, and this was his chance to do something he loved. He wanted to try his hand at script writing for movies, but realized that an online content bank – similar to Flipboard -- was more likely to succeed as a business idea. That’s what Ivyclique is all about.
Back in the past
When it came to his career, Anjan was always a finance geek. He spent most of his pre-startup years working as an investment manager in firms like Reliance, Deutsche Bank and ICICI Bank. After he came back from the US, in 2013, he enrolled on to the MBA in entrepreneurship at the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad.
When Anjan, who considers himself a writer and closet moviemaker, has some free time, all he does is read obsessively.
Tired of getting lost in the excessive junk available online, he decided to build a channel to help people access premium content and share it across various social platforms.
“I have forever yearned for that one avenue where I could not only get access to premium content but also have the chance to upload my own content to drive home an opinion and make a point. Currently, people do this only through simple blogs. I wanted everything under one roof,” added Anjan.
He started working on the idea as soon as he graduated from ISB, and Ivyclique was ready for launch in April this year.
What’s Ivyclique all about?
It is a platform that has three kinds of content: articles written by the in-house writers or the Ivyclique Desk; trending stories from social media curated by the web crawler algorithm; and content generated by users.
Ivyclique has content categorized under about 80 topics, while the Ivyclique Desk of 20 writers curates and generates over 25 stories per day under these various topics.
Apart from a lot of content, there are some fun elements on the platform as well. I found a ‘Create Playlist’ button, which I found quite curious. I asked Anjan what it was.
He said that the playlist is a collection of related content that helps users read content based on their preference of interest areas. Users can also use customized content – a combination of documents, PPTs, videos, and images etc— to create their own playlist. This content bundle can then be shared across social media platforms or with others on Ivyclique.
“Imagine you are an actor, you can use a combination of your portfolio images, a write up on yourself, and your YouTube video, to create your playlist. This can then be shared. You can also choose to use it as a simple blogger's page, put in your opinions and share it,” added Anjan.
The platform also has a real time system curated chat function, #clique, which allows companies to chat live with Ivyclique users (who are possibly their target audience) to get feedback on the products that have just launched or are in the process of launching.
Ivyclique is available as a free Android app, and has all the functionalities that the website offers.
So far so good
According to Anjan, the website, which has around 7,000 articles so far, has seen 100,000 unique visitors in the last three months. A lot of their visitors are from the US, UK and Canada. They have also become quite popular on social media, and have over 40,000 followers on Facebook.
“We are currently in talks with multiple large corporations to provide premium content for their websites,” he added.
And about competition
“The closest relative is probably a Flipboard. However, the major difference lies in our main USP, which is user generated content. While with Flipboard and the like, I can create a very nifty e-zines, I cannot upload my own content and share it,” said Anjan.
Glimpse into the future
“We will be targeting corporates with a wide array of paid content services. We also plan to go on an aggressive marketing campaign to schools and colleges to use Ivyclique as an educational tool for group work,” said Anjan.
As for individual users, Ivyclique will always be a free to use platform, he added.