17 Feb 2017, 10:22 — 9 min read
In today’s age of fast and mass consumption, holding a user’s attention to one particular website is an art that few have mastered. IT Company Vatsana Technologies Private Limited with its popular website WittyFeed has managed just that. WittyFeed is a viral content website that focuses on providing shareable content for its viewers in an interactive manner. Founded by brothers Parveen (CCO) and Vinay Singhal (CEO) and their college friend Shashank Vaishnav, the company is second only to BuzzFeed globally in terms of traffic in their domain.
Based out of Indore, not a traditional IT hub in the country, the three founders have defied barriers both nationally and globally by setting up a viral content company. Curating content and making it go viral is their USP and they want their business to be part of the pantheon of great websites in the world and they are on course for that goal - currently they are in the top 250 websites in the world in terms of traffic.
In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL) Shashank Vaishnav (SV) and Parveen Singhal (PS) share the journey of WittyFeed, speaking about the obstacles along the way, the successes achieved and their future vision for the company. Watch this video to learn more about their story.
GL: Tell us about your business.
SV: WittyFeed is a platform for well-established media houses like Dainik Bhaskar & Times of India. We assist media houses that have been running for a long time now and are leaders in print but have not been able to make the leap to the digital sphere. We help them get greater online traffic for their published content. Earlier, WittyFeed was a content platform open to everyone, but now we are focused on media houses. It was very difficult to scrutinise the individual content that was coming to us and it made more practical sense to work with media houses.
2009 was the year I entered college. I met my Co-founder Vinay there. We started an NGO to increase awareness on youth issues. We then decided to start a business of creating websites. We worked on this while studying through college. At that time, Parveen had made a Facebook page called ‘Amazing Things in the World’ that went viral. There were a million ‘Likes’ in 6-8 months. We got so many messages from people who wanted to contribute but couldn’t respond to all of them.
We started a website called ‘The Stupid Station’. It was doing well but we found the name was not conducive to the making of a brand so we changed it to EvryStry.com where people could publish their content. It became one of the top 5000 websites in the world because traffic was our USP. Because of branding issues again we decided to change the name and the team decided on ‘WittyFeed’ - the name we have today. We have been in the business of publishing and publicising content for 5-6 years and it has picked up a lot in the last year or two.
PS: They say that sometimes no matter what you do, your destiny is written. I feel that my life has unfolded in that way and it has been largely positive. I wanted to be a lawyer initially. My brother enrolled me in a college in Chennai. I found life there very challenging because people spoke either English or Tamil. I didn’t speak either. I spent most of my time watching videos on Youtube because the internet fascinated me. After some prompting from my brother, I decided to do something productive. I started the ‘Amazing Things in the World’ page on Facebook which eventually morphed into WittyFeed. WittyFeed is like a baby to us, we gave birth to it and are now watching it grow. We are now a team of 100 committed people.
GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?
SV: We started our first company in college. Studying and working at the same time was very difficult. When expanding the company after college, we didn’t know much about policies or compliance, but we coped. There was a time when we were doing nearly 7 things at the same time. We decided to commit to our skill set of making content go viral. Letting go of the other projects we had was difficult.
When we started WittyFeed in 2014, we had a team of 25 people and didn't have enough funds to pay them. They worked for us without getting paid for three months, without any complaints. That was the time we borrowed Rs 3 crore from the market. We were running at a loss for six months but gradually became cash flow positive, as we had predicted, based on our calculations. We have been solvent ever since.
The next challenge we faced was when we were trying to scale up our team. Our setup earlier was small and not hierarchical. When we scaled up, the number of employees increased to about 120. When the company was smaller, the co-founders took care of the needs of the employees, listening to them and giving them direction. We realised that we needed to change the way the organisation functioned. We revamped our HR policy and built a hierarchy and created a performance based system to keep people motivated.
PS: The startup journey is one that will be filled with hurdles.
Building a team was also a challenge. We have never hired someone just for their skills. We truly believe that our team is comprised of some of the best people in the world in terms of character and this helps with team spirit. If you are a good person, you can achieve anything. And today, our team is like an army. They are passionate about doing something great in their life.
GL: What is the USP of your business?
SV: The USP of WittyFeed is traffic. We can make content viral. Our internal advertisement platform is sophisticated enough to get most good content viral on the internet. If someone comes up with an application or a game, we can make it famous using our tools. To make things popular on the internet, you have to make them trend. We specialise in creating those trends.
GL: What are some of the milestones of your business?
SV: We have more than 25,000 published articles. Every month we reach around 100 million people. We are among the top 30 websites in India. We’re in the top 250 of the world.
In the last 5 years, we have not made much money but we have made a lot of memories and have grown together with the team. There are about a 100 people in the company who would work day and night to do what’s best for the company and the team. Our people are self-driven and have a stake in the company. That feels like a great achievement.
GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?
SV: GlobalLinker is an amazing concept. It’s a great platform on which people can connect with each other. If I want to meet an HR specialist, I can find someone on this platform and speak with them very easily. Bringing together all the SMEs in the nation under one umbrella makes it so easy to connect with people and make good relationships and connection.
GL: What is your big business dream?
SV: Our big business dream is to enable WittyFeed to be open to all media houses in the world who want to post content online. We envision that they have a page on WittyFeed like they currently do on Facebook. We want WittyFeed to continue channeling excellent content to consumers.
PS: We have a dream to make WittyFeed one of the foremost websites in the world. We want to be spoken off in the same breath as Google, Yahoo, Youtube and Facebook. We want to be an Indian addition to that pantheon.
GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?
SV: Never give up. No matter what happens. Always believe that the universe is a big genie saying ‘your wish is my command’.
PS: We have learned to quickly rise each time we fall.
I come from a small village of not more than a hundred houses. My father says there are two ways to live life. Chasing money - if you do that you will be chasing forever and will become a slave to greed. The second is to make yourself worthy of money - the aim is to do work without having the profit motive and this ensures that success follows. This is how it has been for us at WittyFeed. We came a long way without money and things are going well now.
I also believe that you should live life hoping to make an impact after death. People like Mahatma Gandhi, APJ Abdul Kalam and Steve Jobs all had successful lives but are remembered even after their deaths for their incredible achievements in life.
Finally, always take the time out to teach what you have learned. Whatever you have learned is valuable, and sharing it with others ensures that a part of you endures.
Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member.
Posted byGlobalLinker Staff
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