A Look At Chakpak [Startup to SME Series]

[Startup->SMEs– A series where we will take a look at startups that we profiled 2-3 years back and analyze their current status/performance (i.e. if they have transitioned from startup to SME or still stuck in the chakravyuh). If you want us to review any particular startup, do let us know via the contact form]

Launched in 2006, Chakpak is a Bangalore based startup that was started with a vision to be the one-stop shop for latest updates/reviews of Bollywood movies. The site had an astronomical rise in traffic owing to great SEO and is one of the survivors of web2.0 boom (there were a whole lot of other sites that started around the same time, but they eventually shut down).

Started by IITians, the site raised funding from Accel and later Canaan Partners. The core idea behind the VC funding was to become “the” digital marketing platform for Bollywood production houses as the site had the captive audience and hence, there was a potential to monetize the audience in a much better way.

Social was/is an important play and Bollywood production houses needed the major push in social media space. Typically, the production houses do not understand Internet so well (as opposed to print/TV) and that’s where existed an opportunity for a social site like Chakpak.

Back to the Present, i.e. 2011.

Chakpak traffic is on a decline* and it’s quite obvious that the company failed to crack the Bollywood ‘dream’ (of selling the ad inventory to production houses).  In fact, if you look at it closely, none of the Bollywood websites have managed to break through the ‘mafia’ of middle-men in the Bollywood industry and that’s where Ajay Devgan’s site holds a promise (given that he is an insider).

Unfortunately, Chakpak’s content strategy too hasn’t changed much over the last few years – same focus on SEO (i.e. review page of a movie is created months before the movie is released – a black-or-white hat SEO practice followed by most of Bollywood sites in India) and of course, there hasn’t been any improvement in user experience.


As far as I see, monetization is still ruled by Google Adsense which I don’t believe is a great business strategy (unless you are a content farm).

So who ate the lunch?


Facebook is where the community is. Facebook has killed/made irrelevant so many organic community ideas owing to its deeper penetration in online communities.

For a Bollywood production house, it’s much easier to advertise on Facebook, reach out to a very well defined targeted segment as opposed to any other online service. And for general branding campaign, these production houses use Google/other ad networks.

Possible Play for Chakpak?

There are two ways to monetize an online content business – either you sell ad inventories (i.e. direct sales/discounting the adsense model) or you sell related services. Best is when you do both.

Do you think Chakpak should (have) explored movie ticketing business (if not directly, then as an affiliate?).

What’s your take on Chakpak model? Are there any other services team should look into?

Aside, is there a huge opportunity in Bollywood business in India? After all, we still do not have IMDB/RottenTomatoes of India.

[Also, if you want us to cover any of the oldie startup, do let us know via the contact form].

* – While Comscore doesn’t really provide the correct traffic numbers (doesn’t measure cybercafe data), a look at Alexa too confirms the fall.

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