Five years ago, on 1st July 2015, when Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Digital India initiative, India set forth on the path of digital transformation. An inspiring story of inclusion, transformation, growth and empowerment through digital technologies has unraveled since then.
All sectors, including education, pharma, food, entertainment and so on, are now treading the digital path and the news industry is no bar.
By 2030, 1 billion people will be connected to the internet in India. Naturally, the industry will then be looking at a multifold surge in the demand for news content. An interesting fact to note here is that, as per reports, over 90% of these internet users will prefer to access the content in local & regional languages. These audiences from tier II/III/IV cities would connect better with regional language and hyperlocal content, as opposed to English content. But the big question is, are we ready? Sadly, it seems as if we are not. There’s just 1% of relevant supply to meet this projected surge in demand.
Furthermore, these local and regional visitors would naturally have a higher predisposition toward regional news from their respective areas. That’s where the local and regional news publishers come in. Unfortunately, these publishers are being forced to shut down their operations due to unsustainability of the print industry in the face of digital disruption. For them, going digital is the only way to sustain. But as it happens, these regional publishers lack the resources to take their businesses online and the knowledge about content monetization, which will help them unleash the complete earning potential of their content.
Thankfully, two visionaries – Darshan and Soniya – foresaw these market dynamics and came up with a business idea which acts as a panacea to all the woes of the industry and the local publishers. Both the founders have a combined 9 years of hands-on experience in the digital advertising and monetization industry. Having worked at Vertoz Advertising, leading programmatic ad-tech and digital media company in India, for a substantial period, they have a sound understanding of the industry’s intricacies and workings. Their extensive work in this industry led them to discover these blaring gaps, which they endeavour to bridge through the means of NewsReach, an ecosystem of original & local news content.
NewsReach plans to revive the local news industry by digitizing it and creating visibility & marketability to publishers. It aims to disrupt the traditional business model of news buying & selling and monetize the publishers’ efforts by building programmatic publisher marketplace. It has the vision to be the largest news marketplace in the world by selling over 100K news contents across the formats such as text, images, audio, video & others globally & generating a revenue of over 100 crores in next five years.
During their stint at Vertoz, Darshan &Soniya, pitched their idea to Hiren Shah and Ashish Shah, founders of Vertoz. Hiren & Ashish, themselves ad tech visionaries and serial entrepreneurs with over two decades of experience in technology & advertising industry found credence in the idea and the team’s execution capabilities and decided to fund the venture, resulting in the company’s pre-seed fund in 2018 December.
And that was only the beginning. Then on, NewsReach has successfully won the hearts of many investors. It recently won the Ten Minute Million Challenge, an on-the-spot funding event organized by E-Cell of IIT Bombay, where a 10-minute pitch won NewsReach funding of INR 16 Lakh from India’s angel investors including Mr. Sharan Aggarwal, Mr. Siddharth Ladsariya, Mr. V C Karthik, Mr. Pranav Khanna, Mr. Anup Mehta, Mr. Taha Nabee, and Titan Capital VC. The company has also been an honored recipient of multiple other awards such as Emerging Media Startup by Gujarat Cine Media, BotadRatna Award by Gujarat Gaurav Group, has been shortlisted for finals at India Fund Fest, and features in the top 28 most Fundable startups of 2020 in India. The company has also been selected in cohort 01 of JITO Incubation & Accelerator Program, starting from May 2020.
This shows the industry’s acceptance, acknowledgment, and recognition of the idea. Besides, NewsReach is also the Member of media organizations like Akhil BharatiyaPatrakar Suraksha Samiti, Welfare Association of Media Editors & Reporters, Patrakar Ekta Sangathan, among others. This helps it stay ahead of the curve, be an integral part of the industry’s dynamic discourse and be prepared to manoeuvre the business strategy as per the emerging trends.
The company’s growth has been promising so far. In less than a year, company has onboarded more than 1500 publishers from 150+ cities and currently has 700K+ Monthly Active Users (MAUs) on its platform. And it aims to digitalize 10,000 more in the next year. The company wants to be a dominant player in B2B regional & local news selling space. So far NewsReach has been successful in carving out the niche & achieve the product market fit after their year long journey in news space, which included their important pivot to B2B model. NewsReachbelievesthat Voice, video, vernacular & variety of regional content are the winning propositions for the whole ecosystem (subscribers, publishers & advertisers) and will decide the fate of any startup in the next decade.