Local discovery platform Little Black Book has its fingers in many pies. From travel and food to shopping and events, they’ve got you covered if you are out to discover Delhi, NCR and Bangalore.
Aptly named, Little Black Book (LBB) was started in 2012 by Suchita Salwan when she found herself in Delhi looking for things to do, especially on the weekends. “For me, LBB was a way to document all that I loved discovering in Delhi, and hoping that through all the amazing things I found, I could inspire people to step out and discover Delhi using my recommendations.”
An economics graduate from Delhi University, 25-year-old Suchita has previously worked with Wizcraft, which was followed by a stint with the BBC’s Marketing Department, where she helped launch BBC Entertainment India. “This job was exceptional in making me understand the value of processes and how good programming/content goes a long way. I quit working with the BBC to work on LBB full time towards the end of 2012, and have been at it ever since,” she says.
A broad-based approach
Most local discovery platforms we know have a fairly sharp focus, be it food like Talking Street, or travel and adventure like Thrillophilia and Holidify. LBB covers a wide spectrum of interests that includes food, events, travel, adventure, lifestyle and shopping, among other things. Though they have an audience across age groups and area of interests, their primary target is 18-35-year-olds.
From organic and bootstrapped to funded
Suchita, along with three colleagues and an army of interns, built LBB over 2013-2014. The initial days were spent in building and establishing the company and establishing a user base with their audience. Growth was organic and the company was still finding its feet. They had 80,000 monthly unique visitors in December 2014 and Suchita claims that over 200,000 people attended LBB events and LBB partner events in 2015.
In April 2015, the company raised seed funding from Rajan Anandan, Sachin Bhatia, and the Singapore Angel Network. The next six months saw the team expand to 30 and include Bangalore in September. This was followed by the launch of their Android and iOS apps around mid-November.
According to Suchita, LBB currently has 600,000 monthly users via their website.
Search for a tech co-founder
Suchita’s long-drawn-out search for a tech Co-founder who could understand her vision ended with finding Dhruv Mathur, who joined the company at Co-founder and CTO early last year. “I believe that the only way to successfully deliver relevant content that drives action is technology. And there is no one I’d rather implement this with than Dhruv,” says Suchita.
An entrepreneur himself, 28-year-old Dhruv moved back to India to start his own venture, getFbPay.in. This Carnegie Mellon graduate had earlier worked with Deloitte in the Bay Area and was looking to pivot when he and Suchita joined hands.
Show me the money
Advertising has been LBB’s primary revenue generator. This includes not only the big brands but also local food cafes and fashion brands that have been eager to reach out to local audiences.
Between March and December 2015, the company saw its revenues grow a stunning 500%, says Suchita. LBB is looking to raise another round of funding soon.
The road ahead
Happy with the initial response the LBB team has received from Bengaluru, they are excited about their user engagement and the surprise they have planned for the city.
There are other plans in the works too. “Our focus is always on delivering a product that continuously adds value to our users’ choices. So, first up, you’re going to see lots of changes on our app. We’ve got a very exciting ‘Make Plans’ feature coming up, which will allow users to chat with friends.
“Another big focus for us will be closing the consumption loop. We’d like to make it easier for users to not just discover, but simply do the things they find on LBB.”
Key to success
The key to success is simple: the team’s upbeat attitude and drive. Suchita and Dhruv add that it is important to measure everything. “Not necessarily on an Excel sheet, not necessarily by numbers. But just set expectations, set levers, and measure what you’re doing. Personally, it’s helped us work smarter, harder, and think faster,” Suchita says.
“Plan looking out 3-6 months, but execute like it’s due tomorrow,” says Dhruv, emphasizing that is important to think less and do more.
Suchita points out the importance of taking off time to reflect on one’s growth and decisions. “We’re always under pressure to act fast, and at times you end up making mistakes you’ve already made before because you don’t have time to think things through, rigorously,” she says.
Up and gunning
The founders are in agreement when they say that the one thing that keeps them motivated are their users and their team. They share:
“You’re always going to hit some wall or the other, and challenges are a part of the game. But knowing that we’re creating value for our users and brands keeps us up and running, 16 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The broad base of interests that LBB covers makes it a one-stop shop for exploring a large city. However, an audience looking only for a specific need or interest, be it food or travel, may still head to a Zomato or a Holidify instead of LBB.