WomenPower 02: How this digital media startup POPxo achieved 2.5 bn content impressions

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‘The desi girl’s guide to life and love,’ POPxo is a women-centric startup which is burgeoning monumentally. The 7th largest video player in the country on Facebook, POPxo boasts an impressive 178 million video views during the month of August 2018. It has grown prolifically since its inception in 2014. The Digital Media startup has its headquarters in the heart of Hauz Khas, a resplendent village in New Delhi, India.

Other than Delhi, the startup is anchored in London and Mumbai. POPxo primarily creates stories, videos, and social media content that young, Indian girls can relate to. It assumes an amalgamation of women from all classes regardless of the various sects of society and creates content that is undifferentiated and relatable for all women.

The four-year-old startup has expanded its range of products and services to suit customer requirements and build a larger audience. Pixxo, POPxo’s influencer marketing program, is the largest platform for brands to connect with social media influencers in order to promote their products and services.

It has also launched a POPxo Beauty Box in partnership with MyEnvyBox which contains a host of beauty products along with two gift vouchers. Another unique initiative is the POPxo Digital Magazine which aims to combine the production quality of a magazine and the reach of a digital platform to make it visually appealing and accessible at the same time.

Founded by Namrata Bostrom and Priyanka Gill, POPxo has an 85% female workforce making it a progressive and woman-friendly work environment. The average age of employees at POPxo is 25 making it a startup with a wildly energetic and exuberant group of individuals with fresh ideas that are woven into concrete and substantial digital products.

Priyanka Gill, co-founder & CEO of POPxo and Plixxo has contributed to publications such as The Independent, Travel and Leisure, the Guardian, Hello Pakistan, Vogue India, Harpers Bazaar India, and Grazia India. On the business front, she is an angel investor interested in developing niche brands within the lifestyle market, including Bea’s of Bloomsbury, a boutique cake shop, and Llustre.com (acquired by Fab UK) an online interior décor store.

popxo
Source – POPxo

Her recent acquisitions include tizaro.com and campanja.com. She pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Arts from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi, followed by a Masters in Arts from Kings College, London. She worked as a volunteer in the position of a co-chair for Pratham UK Gala, 2010.

Namrata Bostrom worked as a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group before she co-founded POPxo in 2014. Awarded the C200 scholarship in 2002, she did her Bachelors in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College. Honored with the Rhodes Scholarship in 2006, she pursued her Masters in Philosophy at the University of Oxford. She later studied MBA at the London Business School. Bostrom quit POPxo in March 2017 and is currently the Product Manager at Facebook.

popxo
Priyanka Gill and Namrata Bostrom

Like most successful startups, POPxo started small and gradually evolved into the one-stop destination for commercial news, fashion, beauty and a plethora of other things including feature stories. Priyanka Gill had started a homegrown blog called eStylista in 2006 where she wrote about styling, clothing, and everything that caught her fancy. It was soon converted into a website which eventually failed due to lack of branding and growth.

However, Priyanka Gill saw the potential in it being turned into what is known today as POPxo. As the company grew, it created unprecedented content which resonated with the modern Indian women. The engagement gradually proliferated in gargantuan amounts and POPxo presently boasts a content engagement of 295 million.

The initial idea that struck Namrata Bostrom and Priyanka Gill was to target Indian women between the age of 18 and 35 living in places such as the UK, Canada, the US and the Middle East who wanted to connect with what was happening back in India because they did not have access to print and as a result, a certain vacuum was built.

However, as they progressed, they realized that the NRI market was extremely difficult and cumbersome to penetrate. The traction was not what they had expected it to be and when they noticed that there was a small, loyal group of women who were reading from India, they decided to shift their focus on young Indian women.

Priyanka Gill, while elucidating how they got the idea, said, “The glossies were focused only on print and there were only a handful of digital-first content websites that explicitly spoke to the young urban Indian women. And these women live their lives on social media and on their mobiles. We decided to create content that reached women where were they were, and so we started POPxo. We talk about stuff that is real – and what women in India struggle with or are looking for in their daily lives. When we write about fashion and beauty, it’s not just about luxe products and looking good. It’s about things like affordable styling tips for the average hard-working, constantly stretched Indian woman, effective DIY home remedies for slightly embarrassing beauty problems, about feminine hygiene and health,”

POPxo secured a major investment of 3 Crore from Rajan Anandan and others in 2014. This gave an impetus to the company for further growth. POPxo has raised a total of $12.4M in 7 funding rounds stretch across a period of 4 years. It bagged $2 million in a Series A funding round from Chiratae Ventures, Kalaari Capital and 500 Startups in November 2015. Following this, it received $3.3 million from investors such as Kalaari Capital, Chiratae Ventures, GREE Ventures, GWC Innovator Fund and Atul Goel in March 2017. The next funding round saw an investment of $750K in March 2018.

In a recent Series C funding round, the company raised $370 million dollars. The investors included Oppo and Neoplux. Existing investors such as GREE Ventures, Chiratae Ventures, and Kalaari Capital also contributed to the funding round. Series C funding round thus raised the most money. Priyanka Gill believes that having Oppo and Neoplux on board will open a lot of markets for POPxo.

She commented at the time of investment, “With this investment round, we are looking to consolidate commerce as a strong revenue stream, given that POPxo’s core strength is its proven ability to engage millions of women via content which naturally leads to a low customer acquisition costs and high conversion rates. We also plan to strengthen our vernacular offering, beginning with Hindi along with continued investment in video and our platform.”

According to POPxo, the monthly production of content reaches a number as high as 1300. 2.5 Billion impressions are made on their content monthly along with the engagement of a whopping 295 million. They get 240 million video views and their user post engagement hits 5 million monthly.

The metrics are quite impressive for a startup as young as POPxo with only 4 years since its advent. The annual revenue of the startup is approximately $4 million with 162 employees. The POPxo mobile application has been downloaded more than 500 thousand times.

POPxo, though supremely popular, is not a monopoly. There are multitudes of competitors online including ScoopWoop, iDiva, Buzzfeed, Storypick, Polka cafe et cetera. These companies generate content that resonates with the youth including lifestyle, fashion, trends, beauty, styling, and comedy.

ScoopWoop has its headquarters in Delhi, India, with annual revenue of $2.3 million. Sattwik Mishra co-founded ScoopWoop in 2013. It has around 200 employees.

Buzzfeed, on the other hand, is an international competitor with annual revenue of $240. It is based in New York with branches in several countries including India. The aforementioned companies are in close competition with one another. Each has a differentiating factor which attracts audiences to consume its content.

POPxo is undoubtedly one of the most progressive companies that aim to uplift and empower urban Indian women. It has a work environment which bolsters women and their opinions. The startup aims to dismiss taboos and stigmas around the things that women go through or feel.

Founded by women and run by women, its workforce constitutes 85% women which says a lot about it as an organization. It is only imperative to have companies such as POPxo show support for women. This is a step in order to demolish patriarchy and make women feel more at home.

What do you think about the future of Digital Media in India? Tell us in comments.

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Vasundhara Dhadiwal
I'm quite gauche, tbh. I despise texting abbreviations and Internet acronyms and the fact that I find myself guilty of using them every once in a while. I study mass communication and photography gets me by. I am as old school as they come. I devour books while a plate full of food is waiting to be eaten. Life is quite okay but I struggle with the in-betweens. I'm just a regular girl but I believe that I'm going to be a very big deal someday.

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