How social media startup Thinkly is creating an interest-led content and community platform

Mumbai-based Thinkly, which calls itself a new-age social media startup, aims to be the Netflix of quality content. It enables independent writers, thinkers, journalists, and other content creators to connect with “thinklers” and monetise content via subscriptions.
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Content and community go hand in hand.

And Mumbai-based content creation startup Thinkly aims to ensure that its mini-blogging platform does its bit by helping people discover, engage, and learn from other users with common interests.

Founded in 2021 by Vivek Saxena, Navin Pai, and Deepak Choithramani, the AI-powered content creation platform aims to “ignite the thinker” in its users — people who wish to express their thoughts to an intellectual audience.

Thinkly began as a blogging platform where one could share thoughts on topics that mattered to them. Later, to make it more conversation-led, the founders developed a social media application, allowing users to exchange and express their thoughts.

"Despite starting as a blogging platform, we realised there is so much more value to be added. With podcasting and videos becoming popular, we wanted to adopt them in a social platform,” Vivek says.

Social media usage is considered one of the most popular online activities. In 2020, approximately 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide, and the number is expected to increase to around 4.41 billion in 2025.

This has put Thinkly on a mission to develop its interest-led content and community-driven social media app with the larger vision of building a place ”where the world comes to think”.

Many prominent personalities such as RN Bhaskar (editor, educationist, researcher), Kaveree Bamzai (senior journalist and renowned author), Gaurav Kalra (senior sports journalist), Avinash Ananda (leadership advisor, happiness strategist, motivational speaker), Shital Mehra (executive presence coach), Amit Chhangani (founder. Motoroids), Ajit Ranade (economist, political analyst), and others publish content on Thinkly.

CEO Vivek and CTO Navin were previously co-founders at ZipCash. They exited to Ola in 2015. Later, the duo invested in other ideas before they zeroed in on Thinkly. Passionate about the AI space, Deepak joined in as CPO to launch Thinkly. The founders refused to divulge initial investment details.

How does it work?

A creator economy-focused startup, Thinkly creates a space where one can start a dialogue and initiate meaningful conversations with like-minded people. It allows the audience, or "thinklers", to choose the content they want to view using the 50-plus different filters.

The platform allows independent writers, thinkers, journalists, and other content creators to filter their target audience, and monetise content via subscriptions.

The app is available on Google Play Store and Apple Store for free. A user can log in via email, Twitter, Facebook, or Google credentials. After installation, the app prompts you to choose at least three interest areas, after which the AI-backed engine matches your interests with other users and the content available on the platform.

A creator can post multiple publications on Thinkly, which offers free and premium subscription-based models. A single creator can have publications that cater to different target audiences by focusing on business, travel, finance, parenting, and more.

Content can be published in three formats - blogs with unlimited words, podcasts with Spotify integration, and videos with YouTube integration.

Creators can restrict their content to premium users by charging an accessibility fee. Thinkly charges these creators a fee for using their premium services.

The app claims to be an ad-free platform.

“We only charge money from creators who make money. So, anybody can launch their publication on the platform for free. Our revenue comes from subscription fees,” Vivek says.

In August 2021, Thinkly raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round from Mumbai-based VC Equanimity Investments and other angel investors.

“As a startup, you're always on the treadmill. We plan to raise another round of funding in the next few months,” Vivek says.

The startup recently entered a content-sharing partnership with Free Press Journal (FPJ). Thinkly offers its users FPJ’s op-eds and other articles. The founders say they are in talks with other Indian and international media publications.

The ‘privilic’ feature

The purpose of Thinkly is to create a safe space for people to express their thoughts and eliminate hatred and toxicity – a challenge that most social media platforms fail to address today.

“Our initiative is not aligned towards unnecessary user engagement. Our endeavour will always be to build a safe and troll-free platform for content creators.” he adds.

“We added a ‘privilic’ feature to avoid trolling. Whenever a user enables it, other user’s comments are viewed as messages. This prevents others from seeing these comments.”

'Privilic' is a portmanteau that combines parts of the words 'pri-vate' and 'pub-lic’.

The market and more

The global digital content creation market size was estimated at $11 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a 12 percent CAGR by 2030, according to a report.

More than 50 million people worldwide consider themselves to be creators. Of these, over two million-plus consider themselves to be professional creators, earning enough from their passion to consider it their full-time income. Other players operating in the space include Zupyak, Medium, Dzone, Quora, Flipboard, Scoop.It, and Listly.

What makes Thinkly unique? The fact that it is a safe and troll-free space that is open to opinion or ideas from different perspectives, enabling its creators to earn through its in-built subscription-based model.

“We are trying to be the Netflix of great content. While most other platforms are about staying in contact with friends, families, brands, and celebrities, Thinkly is all about great content that adds value,” Vivek says.

In January 2022, the startup secured the rights to republish content of 50 Nobel Laureates and 120 heads of state, including names such as Joseph Eugene Stiglitz (American economist), Justin Yifu Lin (Chief Economist and Vice President of the World Bank), Michael Spence, George A. Akerlof, Joseph E. Stiglitz, and others.

The content creation application currently has over 65,000 users and is expecting to add around 10,000 users every month (MoM). Only about 5 percent of users are from abroad.

The road ahead

Going ahead, Thinkly plans to expand its global footprint, for which the founders are in talks with international media houses.

The content creation startup is also building additional features to allow users further protection from abusive and toxic content.

“We want people to come to Thinkly to have educated, nuanced views about things. We want our users to indulge in interesting debates and discussions on the platform,” Vivek says.

He adds that the platform aims to host global publications in the areas of business, wellness, science, technology, culture, geopolitical, health, and entertainment. They already have partnered with Harvard, MIT, Inc, Fast Company, New Scientist, Psychology Today, Mayo Clinic, Foreign Affairs, and The Diplomat, Defense One.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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