There are now more than 42 million pages on Facebook, according to a recent amendment to the social network’s filing for an initial public offering.
With a surplus of pages being created daily on the social networking giant, one can’t even think that something big (big as ₹600 crores) can come out of a Facebook page.
A similar page was created on Facebook aimed to provide short news to the masses.
Yes! news sourced from various media websites and rewritten in 60 words maintaining the information and increasing the ease to read.
Anunay, Deepit and Azhar never ever thought that this Facebook page is to turn ₹600 crores within 3 years.
“We started as an ordinary Facebook page though,” says Azhar, co-founder, and CEO at Inshorts.
Three of them, at the mere age of 24, started a page to provide news updates in 60 words while not comprising with their study routine at IIT Delhi. The assumption was simple – provide quick, accurate 60 word updates of important news.
“We would curate a synopsis of top news items, with a link for users to read more as per their liking. Soon, the page gained some loyal fans from IIT-D, Kharagpur circuits, which then attracted more friends of friends”, he says.
Within the few months of launch, InShort already had 1,00,000 fans interacting and engaging with their content on Facebook.
And the next step was obvious, they planned to develop an app around the concept. In June or July of 2015, they garnered 1 million fans.
By the end of the second year in college, they began feeling bored as there was nothing challenging with their studies and work at the college. Mugging up what the professor says and aspiring for good grades was not their cup of tea.
To begin, none of the three was avid news readers. However, Deepit was a little bit of a news reader, if compared.
When they explored, they came to the conclusion that almost everyone in their peer groups was not much aware of the day to day happenings around the world. Except for the technology sector, as they were computer science students, they had some knowledge.
And the reason was crystal clear. Traditional media websites had a bunch of stories updated daily. And to find stories that interest you, you have to scroll through 500 pieces of content.
According to a consumer study by Microsoft, average human attention span today is 8 seconds which is 1 second less than that of a goldfish. In the last 10 years, our brain seems to have evolved to adapt to the information flood, thanks to the advent of social media.
While it is perplexing about what befall next in this quasi-evolutionary relationship between our consciousness and content media, a few media outlets are starting to adapt to us.
Another reason for the decline in traditional 1000 words content consumption can be blamed on the increase in mobile users. So if you see, the lengthy articles of say 1000 or more words are not really comfortable to be read on a mobile device.
Most people read the headlines, look at the picture attached, and maybe read 2-3 lines and turn the page. I can say this because that is exactly the case when I read Hindi newspapers.
InShorts office today employees over 100 people ranging from a bunch of techies to creative creatures managing the content.
The transformation has been led by their thoughts and foreknowledge. While that marked the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, as employers they often put themselves in the shoes of their employees and try to have a look around from their perspective.
For Inshorts, managing a team that produces more than 140 articles a day and aims at going global, the resonance seems worth.
While the major market is the working professionals in Tier 1 cities, the app has witnessed positive response from the millennials in Tier 2 cities as well.
The biggest challenge they faced during their journey was whether they could scale. Everyone they met thought themselves to be computer geeks from IIT and that they are doing the curation algorithmically and automatically.
However, Azhar says, “We do it manually. If you do it automatically it saves time but it will only pick up the best sentences from the article and not the essence of the content in 60 words. It has to be done manually.”
The question – how did they manage to curate 1000 articles daily without much human resource. But the point is – even if they did 100 articles a day, that will suffice at least for the initial run as the user-base they were targeting did not need more than 20 articles per day.
“And moreover, if the big media houses are run manually, why can’t we run it manually in the longer run”, says Azhar.
InShort is anywhere between 5 Million to 10 Million installs on Google Play store to date. The app provides 60-words news updates on important issues. The company raised $24 Million in 2 rounds of funding from Sachin Bansal and Tiger global, valued at ₹600 crores.
So if you have read this 1000 words article, thanks to your attention, at least you have more than that of the goldfish.