[App Fridays] Unacademy wants to ‘spark your imagination’ with interactive storytelling app Graphy
Homegrown edtech soonicorn Unacademy has been one of the busiest companies of 2020. The Facebook-backed startup has topped user growth, investor interest, and mergers and acquisitions over the last few months.
In June, it also announced the launch of a new product — Graphy.
Co-founder and CEO Gaurav Munjal wrote in a tweet, “Books haven’t changed since a really, really, really long time. Maybe it’s time to change that? Graphy is still in beta!”
Graphy calls itself “the home of useful content”.
It lets users explore clutter-breaking ideas and storytelling with elements like video, audio, images, and quizzes, in an easy-to-consume chapter format. Users can watch, read, or play the content. Graphy invites creators (known as ‘graphers’), including business leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, authors, and sports coaches, from across the globe to curate their best stories, ideas, and experiences.
“Whether your expertise is best shared as literature, animation or film, it all lives comfortably on Graphy,” it states on the website.
Graphy has a separate founding and content team, and is inviting user feedback and feature requests. Co-founder Sumit Jain announced in a tweet this week that it had sold 2,000 graphies in two months. By the end of August, 500+ graphies will be live.
The app has crossed 50,000 downloads on Google Play Store. Graphy is rated 4.5 out of 5 on Android and 4.9 out of 5 on iOS.
Users can also apply to be a grapher or creator. “Get paid more than any publishing platform,” Graphy states on its website.
What Graphy offers
Graphy is designed for the mobile audience that is time-efficient and keen on bite-sized on-the-go learning. Hence, the entire content library focuses on being as structurally different as possible from conventional storytelling methods.
The app’s Instagram Stories-like vertical format allows users to play chapters in full-screen mode, and get the most out of its smooth UI.
There are ‘graphies’ across a range of micro-topics, including scaling startups, wireframing for UX/UI designers, smartphone photography, acrylic artistry, spiritual healing, sports coaching, art of freelancing, and more.
Most of the content is job-oriented or outcome-driven.
The homepage lists all available content under categories like Bestsellers (most popular graphies based on sale in the last 24 hours), New Releases, Top Graphers, and New Chapters.
Each Graphy is broken down into multiple chapters (six or more), with the overall content spanning seven to 10 hours. New chapters are added every week. This is similar to the episodic formats for shows adopted by OTT platforms.
Graphy has already roped in a bunch of celebrities as graphers on the platform. Some like comedian Tanmay Bhat are also creating Graphy Originals.
Every Graphy includes a grapher bio, a short video promo, and chapter-wise breakdown. Users can also ‘gift’ graphies to four friends for free after purchasing it. All graphies are paid offerings.
Content prices start at Rs 199 and can go up to Rs 3,000 or more depending on topic, video duration, and Grapher credentials. There are no trial chapters available yet.
Users can pay through Google Play Store credits or wallets, UPI, cards, and netbanking.
In App Settings, users can also tweak the video resolution (1080p / 720p). Graphy supports chapter-wise downloads as well.
Verdict: Interesting but needs additions
Graphy stands out for its immersive UI, high production values, content diversity, and user-friendly format.
It has all the ingredients required to create a sticky consumer product that not only breaks the monotony of storytelling but also lets users experience outcome-driven content. Or as Graphy calls it - consumption that is “designed to spark your imagination”.
Most graphies are targeted at undergrad students, young entrepreneurs, and vocational learners like photographers, dancers, artists, comedians, etc.
However, the app is still in beta, and can do with lots of additions.
One, an Audible-style content preview or trial chapters will help increase adoption (purchase). Two, options to speed up (1.25x/ 1.5x) playback could add to the user experience. Three, more search filters will ease the content discovery.
Some early users have also requested features like background play and OTT-like subtitles, which could be nifty additions to the app.
To sum up, Graphy is an interesting and well-timed product. With the pandemic bringing about paradigm shifts in content consumption and delivery, the platform stands to gain immensely.
Add to that, Unacademy’s captive user base, distribution and investor muscle, and the founding team’s vision, this is a clutter-breaking product in the making.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)