[Guest post: Naman Sarawagi is the co-founder of FindYogi.com– a product comparison engine for India.]
Amongst the many things that the web has set free is creativity. Artists no longer have to depend on publishers and distributors to get their work in the hands of the user. While there have been popular comic channels in the western world like TheOnion and Oatmeal but Indian artist weren’t making it big with this medium. Some due to lack of quality and others due to lack of persistence and hence consistency.
Ask anyone who has created a half decent blog in India and you will know that the idea of growing your own content channel takes time, is very painful and is least rewarding in short term. Specially when you are talented enough to produce good original content everyday, you would get tempted to do it for someone who is ready to pay you upfront.
Let’s take look at 3 channels that started as creative content channels on web and are now making some impact commercially.
Faking News (FakingNews.com) – Started by IIM A alum Rahul Roushan in 2008, FakingNews.com is an Indian news satire site. The site is on the lines of TheOnion, that takes a satirical take on current affairs.
The popularity of FakingNews has got Rahul some serious mainstream attention. He has been on popular chat shows on NDTV, column in Hindustan Times amongst others. FakingsNews is also one of the most influential twitter channels in India.
In the past FN received a lot of guest contributions, regularly. To take advantage of that FN 2.0 was started with user generated content. That is helping FN convert from a content creator to a satire publishing platform.
The big news today is that Network18 backed FirstPost has acquired FakingNews. Though it’s been about 5yrs but the story in only getting started now.
Garbage Bin (Facebook.com/garbagebin) – Garbagebin is a comic strip on Facebook published by Faisal Mohd. Started in late 2011, the comic strip already has captured 384K fans in a very short time. The comic strip is based around teenagers of 1990’s. The strong insight that creator has into the lives of school going kids of 1990’s is what makes the gags go viral. The typical target audience of 18-30yr old is also the most active on Facebook.
GarbageBin’s popularity has got Faisal a number of invitations from IIT/IIMs for workshops etc. They also started a store with BlueGape with autographed merchandise, though that seems to be defunct now. A compilation Garbage Bin gags are available as hard copy print and is stocked by offline bookstores like Crosswords.
The Viral Fever (Youtube.com/theviralfevervideos)- Started in 2011 by IIT Kgp graduate Arunabh Kumar, TVF is popular for publishing spoof videos around popular youth culture. TVF currently has about 10mn video views and 65K subscribers, probably one of the highest for original, web only content in India.
Though given the cost and sheer amount of work that goes into video production, the frequency of updates has been slow but holding true to its name every video has gone viral. In the past the commercial videos that have gone viral at larger scale has seeded initial audience through media spend but that isn’t the case with TVF.
Recently, TVF made a video for recharge site, Freecharge.in*, taking an attempt to make it viral. They were decently successful with their attempt with about 300K views in first 48hrs and over half a million views now.
Original video content have great potential to be monetized on the web and TVF seems to have a good start at it.
There is one thing that sets these creative “startups” apart is their ability to produce good content, consistently. They did not run after money early on and now that there is traction, money shouldn’t be a problem.
On a sidenote, each of these founders is doing what they are really passionate about and that is making the world a little happier, one satire/gag/spoof at a time.
*The author was part of the initial team at Freecharge.