Gurgaon-based What's Up Life wants you to live the Page 3 life with its editorially curated discovery app for dining out, party, leisure, events, and more.
Startup: What's Up Life
Founder: Gaurav Luthra
Founded in: 2015
Where it is located: Gurgaon
The problem they solve: Content tech discovery for lifestyle and entertainment businesses
Funding: $100,000 from angel investors
Revenue: Rs 1 crore
Five years after dabbling in the real estate and telecommunications industries, Gaurav Luthra, 26, began thinking. Could he do something other than the regular corporate sales job? A born networker, he did not want to be stuck selling a product; he would rather create a network that connected people.
In 2013, Gaurav started an experiment with an app called What’s Up Gurgaon. The app had one aim: to update citizens of Gurgaon about all the things happening in their city - fashion shows, restaurants, events, and nightlife. With curated content, he aimed to make his app the bridge that would connect businesses and customers.
“In two years, there were enough people coming to me from the business and consumer side; over 1 million people had connected on the platform. That’s when I realised I had something scalable, something that could be taken to other cities,” says Gaurav, the Founder of What’s Up Life, which was officially set up in 2015.
“I started this business because there was no lifestyle engagement service on a single platform to know your own suburb/city for the Page 3 kind of life,” Gaurav says.
Gaurav, a computer science graduate from Delhi, studied finance at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. He considers his early sales roles as a learning because they taught him to “study the pulse of people”. People around him cautioned him when he set up What’s Up Life, but Gaurav realised that he had a winner on his hands if he could scale up with support from brands.
The initial years involved using content to generate and increase the number of unique views.
His first paying customer for the discovery and engagement fulfillment app arrived in the form of a restaurant in DLF Phase 4 in Gurgaon, which was looking for promotions on the What's Up Life website and app. Gaurav recalls that it didn’t translate into much money, but says driving traffic to the restaurant was fun. Word began to spread among businesses that the app worked well for consumers to discover local events. Not long after, big brands started using the platform for events and promotions.
What's Up Life now curates events under a range of heads, including shopping, dine-out, stay, party, leisure, events, wellness and community. It is operational in five cities across India, including Kolkata, Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, and Hyderabad.
The startup’s business model is simple: it charges brands like Uber, Oppo, Samsung, Decathlon, Taco Bell, and others to connect with users by using curated content. This helps increase engagement and drive customers to stores or restaurants. The startup also manages events for their clients and customers.
For example, a mobile phone company could ask the brand to drive users to their event to experience their product. They charge companies a small percent of the total event cost.
What’s Up Life was self-funded till 2017; Gaurav put in his own money - Rs 50 lakh - and worked with a small team of five people.
In 2017, the company clocked revenues of Rs 60 lakh. With a small team (10 members), Gaurav was covering his costs. He realised that this model could scale up fast and met investors who found that brands were looking at suburb-wise and location-wise promotions. The fact that Gaurav was acquiring users with very little spend (through Facebook) and was tying up with local networks was an added bonus.
What’s Up Life claims to have served over 200 brands and made revenues of more than Rs 1 crore.
The content tech company, which has reached 10,000 app downloads and has 1 million users on its website, recently raised $100,000 from author Karan Puri and Praveen Suri of Skyline Knowledge Group. Actor Rannvijay Singh has also joined What’s Up Life as ambassador and investor.
As many as 10,000 local businesses, including 3,000 restaurants, are using the platform for content promotion and discovery.
The team has now grown to more than 15 people – six of them in other cities.
What’s up next?
Content is big business across the world. Pocket Aces, which created original content and has reached 350 million unique users per month, has now tied up with Netflix for a global distribution deal.
Despite the upsurge in content, scaling up by understanding user behaviour and creating products seems to be the most difficult journey for any content company.
Anirudh Pandita, Co-founder of Pocket Aces, says: “It is a combination of data analytics, content creation, and distribution. It is fragmented and we are solving this puzzle .”
In the end, like any events business What’s Up Life has to scale and create properties. Gaurav, who believes there is a need for credible content in the lifestyle and fashion segment for young Indians, has plans to create products in the future.
But before that the What’s Up Life team has lots more on its plate – there are many more cities across India the startup can expand to. “It has been a hard journey but with the angel money we will scale up,” Gaurav ends.