YourQuote: an app where anyone can tell a story or pen a poem
The writing bug caught Harsh Snehanshu when he was studying engineering at IIT Delhi. A freelance writer with publications such as The Caravan Magazine, Tehelka, and The Hindu, Harsh is a bestselling author who has written over a hundred short stories in the last nearly 13 years of his existence.
During his interactions with publishing houses when he was penning his novels, Harsh realised that independent writers often found the process of pitching to or being picked up by a Penguin or a HarperCollins quite daunting and difficult to understand. Additionally, there was a lack of a one-stop platform that allowed writers to create and share their musings with other like-minded people. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter could not cut it as dedicated creative writing communities because they lacked a linear focus.
Moreover, from his personal experiences, Harsh found that even though there were blogging platforms that allowed people to publish whatever they wanted, they were mostly not smartphone-friendly, and that was a hindrance because the world, then, was at the precipice of smartphones taking over daily functions from the laptop.
“Content platforms were not mobile-friendly, and as a writer, I found it quite cumbersome to open my laptop every time I wanted to post,” Harsh tells YourStory in an interview.
YourQuote co-founders Harsh (left) and Ashish (right). Credits: YourQuote
Looking to solve those problems and more, he set up YourQuote — a creative writing social media platform — that helps connect writers and readers with similar interests. Harsh co-founded the Bengaluru-based startup along with CTO Ashish Singh in 2016.
The platform — available as an app and a read-only website — solves various publishing processes, right from designing the layout of the text using emotive backgrounds to compiling, organising, printing, and distributing the final product — a coffee table book.
Additionally, it allows writers to build their own following, engage with their community in the comments section of every post they publish, get feedback on their writing, and if all goes according to Harsh’s plan, even be able to monetise their content soon.
YourQuote identifies itself as a short fiction and poetry writing app, but the form is not set in stone. In the backend, the app curates personalised reading experiences for users based on their search preferences and populates their feeds with varied but similarly-themed content.
The app, available on Android and iOS, supports 13 Indic languages and does not require extensive sign-up details.
How it works
Once users sign up on the app, they can start posting text using the free creator tools available to them, which mainly include emotive backgrounds and fonts. Topics can be added via hashtags.
Every post on the platform automatically carries the YourQuote watermark on the bottom, which Harsh says has helped the community grow and add more users.
“My thought process when starting the company was: why are only famous people’s quotes featured on Google?” Harsh says, adding that YourQuote is optimised in such a way that it has top hits on the search engine for several keywords — mostly regional (for example, Raksha Bandhan quotes), than generic (for example, love and relationship quotes).
Screenshots of the app
YourQuote offers writers a premium model. The startup — profitable every quarter, so far — makes most of its money (nearly 50 percent) from creators and writers on the platform. The premium version offers writers a lot more tools to work with, access to data about their readership and their post interactions, as well as the option to download all the content they’ve ever posted on the platform as an MS Word or PDF file.
Writers who have posted at least 48 quotes can use the tools available on YourQuote to publish their own coffee table book — printing for which is done by the startup — and sell it via its online bookstore. Harsh says he has been contemplating offering e-book options too to make the books more affordable since the physical copies are a little steep for most readers.
Ironing out initial kinks
In its early days, YourQuote was an invite-only platform.
“The main reason we did that was to control the quality of users joining our platform. But we realised quickly that quality was not a community problem. For example, on YouTube, you can find inane and dull content, as well as quality stuff. But YouTube personalises its content so well that you will never stumble across bad quality videos,” Harsh quips.
The startup opened up to more users within a month of launching. Today, it has a 150-member strong team of voluntary community moderators who go through all the posts on the app. It also has tech-enabled filters in place that help weed out posts with specific keywords.
YourQuote has been grappling with high server costs as more users sign up every day. It is actively looking for cheaper solutions at present.
Coffee table book of quotes
What the future holds
YourQuote stepped into the market right at the cusp of India’s great technological leap forward vis-a-vis internet services. Its launch coincided with Jio’s, and with lower-tier cities finally having being granted the boon of uninterrupted and cheap internet access, YourQuote has been seeing a deluge of regional content.
Hindi content accounts for nearly 60 percent of the total content created on YourQuote, Harsh says, followed by other regional languages such as Odia, Kannada, Malayalam, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi, among others, which collectively make up to 20 percent. English, the language the app was originally intended to be in, constitutes 20 percent of the remaining content.
Amidst the platform’s rapid growth in Tier-II and lower cities, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat push, the startup expects to continue to grow its user base across all Indic languages. It has over four million users, with over 200,000 daily active users and 875,000 monthly users.
In fact, about four percent of YourQuote’s user base comes from the US, Philippines, and Nigeria, and with more countries implementing a ban on Chinese apps, Harsh stands to capture an international following as well.
The startup is soon launching a first-of-its-kind subscription feature in India, which will allow writers to charge readers for their content, which could range from a series of mini-stories to poems and standalone short stories. The writers can charge between Re 1 to Rs 20 per piece, of which YourQuote pockets just 20 percent.
“I’ve been a writer for over 11 years, and I’ve written over a hundred short stories. The problem I found in the blogging and publishing industry was that there isn’t really a place for short stories anywhere on the web. In India, we don’t have too many magazines that publish short stories, and the international ones are hard to crack and get published. On YourQuote, as a writer, I get to monetise my short stories and get published,” Harsh quips.
YourQuote is also looking to grow its independent publishing unit, although Harsh says he has put that on the back burner for now as he is actively engaged in fundraising discussions with various VCs. The startup recently also won PM Modi’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge.
“The recognition and motivation that came along with winning the App Innovation Challenge have really helped inspire us to keep at it, keep working towards our goals. A lot of big names were on the jury of the challenge, and it was interesting they chose us over some other very famous apps,” Harsh says.
The startup had raised $1 million from Chiratae Ventures earlier. The fresh funds will be used for hiring purposes, as well as ramp-up online marketing, among other things, Harsh adds.