needs a what, where, why, when and a how. Inshorts tells you the what in 60 words. The brief length of content with a link to the original story means it does end up competing with Twitter.
“The readers who get their news from a curated feed on Twitter are not my users. My users are those who don’t track news but want to take a look once a day,” said Iqubal.
The company, which raised $24 million from two rounds of fund raising, both led by Tiger Global, says it may may have found a way to make money. “We don’t want to break news. We just want to give our readers a snapshot and while they are getting that, we show them branded content,” he added.
Branded content, however, has not been able to generate traction on the other platforms it has been tried on. Branded content isn’t typically tweeted out or shared on Facebook. It is pushed below a popular story, so readers discover it by themselves just like a regular ad.
“But our branded content has started to work. We did a tie up with Zomato and Amazon. Both worked,” said Iqubal. He explained that the Zomato campaign was simple, it just said a South Delhi establishment was the most popular restaurant in NCR. “The shares and hits blew us away,” he said.
But this is not the only way Inshorts plans to monetize its popularity.
“We have entered into an agreement with a few media houses where we send traffic to them,” he said. So, for every click to the website Inshorts is given a commission. It is a model, which, he said could be used to send users to e-commerce websites too. But lead generation has failed as a concept in e-commerce where the buyer may not convert the same day but another day.
“We have had arguments with these e-commerce companies plenty of times when we show them cookies and data which says we helped them discover their products. The conversion is very little,” said the co-founder of a website whose primary source of revenue is lead generation.
Iqubal acknowledges that as a problem and has kept his options open. He refused to rule out that Inshorts may go behind a paywall but “it is not something we will consider right now”.
The company, however, does have international plans.
“There are not many companies who do what we do,” he said. The company does compete with Flipboard but Iqubal insists that the US-based company relies on a slick UI and has no aggregation. “Inshorts has about 120 stories uploaded by editors everyday and out of which 80 are read every day. Readers spend at least eight seconds per story,” he said.
But where will Inshorts go? “Maybe the US by the end of this year. Singapore is on the agenda as well,” he said.