IIT KGP alumni, ex-Intel exec join hands to build an app that connects creators on a community platform
In a hyperconnected world, the best of us still fail to make true and lasting connections. This is especially so when you are looking to meet inspiring and like-minded people with whom you can swap ideas or get into a creative zone.
It is to solve this gap that IIT-Kharagpur alumni Vijay Goel and Vivek Kumar, and their friend Sagar Ramteke, started Joynt in August 2019.
It is an app focusing on building a community of creators from different backgrounds, and bringing them on to one platform to help monetise their craft.
“We believe that each ‘celebrity’, as we call them, has had their own journey of self-exploration and struggles. While we can learn from them to grow, they also can be inspired by real conversations and true voices from different stages of scale,” Sagar says.
What does the app do?
Joynt acts as a messaging platform for micro-creators. One can create a chat group and directly engage with their followers. The platform even allows creators to release exclusive content for their followers and engage with them.
“On the app, they can either bring their deeply engaged fans into an exclusive group—where viewers pay to gain access—or they can start a free group with exclusive content, sections of which will be revealed at a price," Sagar says.
"In the exclusive sections, we encourage creators to share collaborations with other app members, mentor tips, their creations and products, first pick on event tickets, limited or experimental merchandise, and more."
The founders came together when they realised that such a platform was hard to come by for creators in India. With 15 years of experience in companies like Sasken, Ericsson, and Intel, Sagar has also spent several years in Europe. Vijay, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate, was with Fidelity Investments and built their consumer-facing chatbot from scratch.
Vivek is an IIT-Kharagpur dropout who went on to co-found Intugine. He has built several products in the past six years, starting from a gesture-based ring to an optimised vehicle tracking solution. He found his calling in the process of creation. Pavan, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate, was previously a software engineer at AutoNinja. He is now Joynt’s CTO.
Of inspiration and challenges
Speaking of how they came up with the idea, Sagar says, “We were building a secure communication platform and, in the midst of several social experiments, one began to show unpredicted results. The experiment was basically to reach out to a few micro-creators on our test app and offer them a piracy-proof platform where they could provide exclusive content to their fans.”
What they saw was that just a handful of these micro-creators were able to bring 20,000 users from other platforms and engage with their fans on a more personal level.
The engagement skyrocketed to 1.4 million minutes with such a small user base. The conversations were real, frequent, and included fans from across the board instead of just the groups they came into the app with.
“We then took a step back and spoke to these creators at length and analysed our consumer habits before deciding to pivot the product to what Joynt is today,” Sagar says.
The team, however, had its challenges. Sagar explains that contrary to popular belief, nearly 90 percent of content by micro-creators is offline. The biggest challenge, therefore, remains bringing all that content online and making the creator believe that their lives as a whole have immense value to fans.
“In simpler words, I could be a Ranveer Singh fan, but my habits are always influenced by micro-creators because they are real, relatable, and reachable,” Sagar says .
The team launched the beta version of the app in August and has accrued about 70,000 downloads so far. Joynt has notched up 20,000 monthly active users (MAU), 2,000 daily active users (DAU), and 1.4 million minutes monthly. Joynt charges a flat 10 percent commission from creators.
Today, the focus is on alternative community platforms for interacting and engaging with consumers. While India has a limited number of such platforms, there are others in the US like Cameo that let fans pay celebrities to create personalised videos. The market is still in its nascent stage, and is restricted to hardcore fans. Another platform is Mumbai- and US-based Escapex.
Speaking of how they are different, Sagar adds existing platforms work towards finding creators and production houses with a large mass appeal. For example, the majority of YouTube’s revenue is shared among the top three creators. In this scenario, a niche creator would remain relatively unseen and unprofitable.
“We will be a personal agent for such micro-creators and support them, providing them with a platform through which they can have meaningful engagement and a recurring revenue stream. We want them to focus on their craft and keep their culture or cause alive," Sagar says.
"We don’t work with algorithms to tell us whose content matters most. We work with creators and hear what they are trying to say.”
The young startup believes that it is well positioned to provide a more ‘people-centric’ system for micro-creators.
Speaking of the funding and future, Sagar says, “We have received a pre-seed round of $150,000 from Omphalos Ventures India and we are in the process of raising our seed round for which we have already received some term sheets. As soon as we close the seed round, we will be going full steam ahead with our execution plan of getting to a significant base of paid users and will continue our journey of getting revenues to our creator community.”
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)