College is a time when one’s head is brimming with ideas, opinions, and inspiration, and there is a need to connect with like-minded people to share these thoughts. Sadly, there is also a severe lack of youth representation in traditional media, and of platforms where college students can feel a sense of community.
Delhi University (DU) alumni Tarun Bhardwaj and Sunny Talwar, who had also felt this gap as students, decided to bridge this gap and provide a dedicated platform where college students could express themselves through stories, while getting information and remaining updated on what was happening at other colleges.
In 2013, they launched Fuccha (fresher in DU lingo), a one-stop junction that aims to provide students a mouthpiece. In addition, it carries information about competitions, conferences, debates and events being held across colleges in the country. It also allows students to interact with each other and discuss career opportunities in various specialisations.
“Our first focus was to cover only Delhi University, but within a year, we got queries and requests from college students across India. Today, we have a presence in over 200 colleges and more than one lakh subscribers. Our year-on-year traffic is increasing and our monthly visits are averaging more than two lakhs with a highly engaged audience,” says Tarun, 28, Co-founder, Fuchcha.
He adds that 80 per cent of his visitors are in the age group of 15-30 years. Within two years, he claims that Fuccha has generated more than 3,000 internship applications, and over 500 writers have contributed to the platform.
With so many students visiting the site, generating business has not posed much of a challenge as corporates are more than eager to get this audience’s attention.
Fuccha offers various brands the opportunity to connect with college students and faculty across the country through online partnerships. Brands benefit because they stay connected with the youth, understand their mindset, and are able to explain the culture at their organisations leading to hiring opportunities in the future.
Fuccha is also an online media partner for college fests and has been a part of events at more than 200 institutes including IIM-Lucknow, IIM Bangalore, IIM-Trichy and BITS Pilani.
“Our main sources of revenue have been native advertisements and customised campaigns (including college and event activations). We have done 12 campaigns with brands like Durex, Viber, Study Overseas, Religare and Strepsils, to name a few,” says Tarun. He adds that he charges between Rs 5000-25, 000 for campaigns.
However, Fuccha’s journey has not always been very easy.
There was an initial struggle with team building to convince people and make them believe in the idea. “No one can work with you or your startup in the long run unless they have faith in you and your idea. So, this was the biggest challenge,” says Tarun. Today, they are a six-member team.
He adds that as far as their product is concerned, many digital media companies find it challenging to get high-quality content and create loyalty and faith in the brand through the content. “We are a media platform. For us, our biggest challenge has always been to make sure our platform attracts the best-quality content and creative brains.”
According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, there are 350 million Indian Internet users; by 2017, this figure would be 500 million. Tarun says that 70 per cent of these users are between the age of 15 and 35. “They don't want plain, generic news; they want their own platform where they can raise their voice, read stuff related to them and get information.” So, he’s trying to solve this problem. By end of 2016, he is aiming to add three million users every month.
In the past few years, many youth-centric platforms have emerged and are gradually capturing the market. Youth ki Awaaz, Scoopwhoop, and former MTV creative head Cyrus Oshidar’s 101India.com are some of the platforms generating youth-centric content.
Tarun admits the presence of many formidable players in this segment. He, however, says the target audience is different.
Fuccha aims to provide a microsite for every college. By 2016, it’s planning to launch a mobile app and video channel that generates its own content.
Based on a study by BI Intelligence, spending on digital ads will grow to Rs 10,220 crore and native ads will grow to $21 billion by 2018. “This growth will also open the revenue channel for us,” says Tarun.
“We have seen over 70 per cent growth in our traffic this year compared with last year. We are very certain that Fuccha will contribute well to the digital India campaign and become a youth influencer,” concludes Tarun.