Happy Birthday, NextBigWhat!

Happy Birthday, NextBigWhat!

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Nov 13th, 2012 was the day when we decided to rebrand from Pluggd.in to NextBigWhat.com. Today, we complete one year. It’s time to do a recap of what really happened with those who matter the most, i.e. our readers.

So why did we rebrand from Pluggd.in to NextBigWhat?

We have been asked this over and again. To tell you the truth, we didn’t (and still don’t) like this entire echo-chamber-ism of the startup space in India. That is, startups talking only to startups, startups taking product feedback from startups etc etc.

One of the big reasons we rebranded was to bring the ‘real world’ into the discussion and have startups connect with real problems, actual users, customers, sellers, vendors etc.

And that’s happening in a big way. A quick glance at engagement on the site and you’ll notice different set of people engaging with startups.

Of course, there is a long way to go.

So where are we?

To start off – we published our 10 commandments and we actually stand by those. In the past, we have taken our role a little easy, but now we are more aware and you will notice us consciously not prioritizing breaking news etc over what matters to a startup and founders (for instance, the Olacabs Series B funding – this was reported by several other media 4 months back, when the team was in talks with the funds – deal wasn’t even signed then).

At NextBigWhat for the last year or so, we’ve written more than 2500 articles delivering news, views and analysis to you. We were the first to cover some of the biggest stories in the Indian startup & digital economy. We broke news when Amazon launched its marketplace in India and when redBus was acquired by Naspers. We covered small startups with the same rigor as we covered the JustDial IPO.

Talking about the content, we are now experimenting with news formats (#shortnews to start with), keeping the entire focus on the fact that we need to respect our readers time a lot more than anybody (including Lord Google).

Let’s Talk Numbers

One of the things that we never worried about was just the volume of traffic (fyi: we didn’t update the Google webmaster tool for a very long time). Not that traffic isn’t important, but focusing on amazing quality traffic is much important than anything else. It’s who that we have the conversation with that matters much more than how many.

And that’s what we have done much more focusedly over the last year (it’s a different matter that Lord Google has thankfully rewarded us with minimum 25% traffic jump after each of the Panda/Penguin updates).

We focused (and continue to focus) on not just the startup community, but the doers and practitioners from the wider world of business and problems that bring a lot more value and actionable insights to the discussions.

Talking about numbers, NextBigWhat touched the Pluggd.in traffic within 4 months of the rebranding and we are on our way up. Comfortably. And this with a very good quality of conversation both on the site as well as on the forum.

Plans Ahead. We Have Some Challenges Too.

We’re clear about our role – as the 3C (cheerleaders, critics and connectors) for the entrepreneurial and product space. We’re looking at building a platform that brings on board a diverse set of doers to share their insights, be available to help other folks out and truly accelerate the journey of a startup. Of course, we believe that an entrepreneur knows best, eventually, and they should decide their path, the help they need, and pick the battles they must fight. The rest of us play a strong supporting role when we do it well.

We questioned many things, made new friends and enemies. We wrote funny pieces, profiled hundreds of startups and made a difference to many. Keeping our love for entrepreneurs alive, we chronicled the ups and downs of the Indian startup space and involved various stakeholders like accelerators, angel investors and venture capitalists.

We started #Roots earlier this year to create a resource of must reads. The Forum has shaped up nicely – we hope to see it grow a lot more this year. Experiments like SMEThing.com are already being useful to a few, and we will do a bigger push this year.

We continue to do focused events – UnPluggd is already the most inspirational, useful and respected startup event in the country, and formats like bigMobilityConf is shaping up well (heck! how can we forget StartupRoots). We experimented with a few partner events as well when we believed the content was worth people’s time, and UnCafe was a short-lived, but very encouraging format that we intend to revive. We are planning a few smaller very focused events that we will share more about early next year.

Many folks keep sharing very useful and unique insights through guest posts regularly. More recently, we have been reaching out to practitioners that we think will add a lot of value for the ecosystem to contribute more regularly, and to possibly help entrepreneurs with specific needs more directly. More on this soon.

The huge challenge is in ramping up – passionate, independent people who are willing to build a platform like this and have both a good understanding of the space and adequate empathy for entrepreneurs are tough to find (if you are one, write to me: ashish@nextbigwhat.com).

The rapidly moving landscape, lots of noise in the ecosystem that actually distracts both attention and money is a challenge too – the battle for growth vs basic survival is very visible in the traditional media already! But this is something we’re confident of – we do believe that honest, meaningful content and intent will trump loudness.

What’s NextBigWhat for NextBigWhat?

A lot!

“Sitaron se aage jahan aur bhi hain Abhi ishq ke imtehan aur bhi hain”

To those who don’t know, Pluggd.in started as an experiment and while we have now built a great team, we continue to experiment with a lot of newer formats, newer event concepts and importantly, newer platforms.

We are taking a (neutral) platform view to the ecosystem and while we continue to bat for entrepreneurs, we also continue to push the envelope and strive to bring actionable insights to our readers.

TL;DR : We play the 3C roles in startup ecosystem – Connector, Cheerleader and Critique.

The coming year is a big one for NextBigWhat, as it is for Indian Entrepreneurship. Last year saw a lot many more startup, and the India product space get much wider acceptance. Mobile apps, payments and usage overall went a lot more mainstream. It’s an exciting time ahead. And we’re looking forward to playing a positive supporting role in this – egging folks on to dream bigger, bridging the gaps with the real world, asking the tough questions and bringing diverse, wide and unique perspectives to the table so it helps entrepreneurs and product teams truly make a difference, not just some money.

We’d love to have your wishes, comments, suggestions, testimonials whatever – leave us a note 🙂

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On a personal note, it has been a fun journey – building a great team, impacting entrepreneurship at a grass root level and yeah, having a lot of fun!

Also, if you want to send in your wishes via a tweet, just click here.

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