We don’t want to create a story of user growth but of user retention and impact: Varun Saxena, Bolo Indya
- Bolo Indya has launched a Peer-to-Peer e-commerce platform called Bolo Meets. It is already gaining popularity amongst the creators as its engagement rate has increased by over 89%.
- It is also hoping that its creators would earn around 1 lakh per month by the end of this fiscal year.
- We speak to Bolo Indya's Founder,
Varun Saxena, to understand the idea behind the platform, its revenue model, and larger goals for the on-going quarter.
Bolo Indya was seeing a steady 25% M-o-M growth even when TikTok was around and eating the bigger chunk of the pie. However, TikTok did not offer its users an option to create content in their regional language and since the beginning, Bolo Indya embarked upon a mission to offer monetary benefits to its creators and take them beyond social gratifications and brand partnerships, which has helped it create a niche in the highly cluttered space. As a result, after June when TikTok was out of the picture, it started growing by 80% M-o-M.
The pandemic-induced lockdown pushed the entire country to move to digital platforms for their primary source of entertainment, which also opened up an opportunity for OTT players and UGC apps to rise to the situation and offer their users a reason to spend more time on their platforms as they were quarantined 24*7. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Bolo Indya launched an engagement-led Peer2Peer e-commerce service called Bolo Meets.
Bolo Meets is already gaining popularity amongst the creators with an increased engagement rate of over 89%. Its top 250 creators are earning in the range of Rs 50,000-60,000 per month using P2P services available on the platform.
Sharing the idea behind Bolo Meets, Varun Saxena, Founder, Bolo Indya, said, “We realised that our creators have a lot of expertise they can offer on the basis of the social capital they build. Short videos in local languages are expected to see a demand of over 80 million users by 2022, just 4th to Youtube, Payments and E-Commerce. This is where Bolo Indya wants to bring in the amalgamation of user-generated content, influencer impact and structured discoverability to build a product which adds contextual value to the time spent on internet by regional language users. So that’s how we arrived at the concept of Bolo Meets.”
Explaining how the service will work, Saxena said, “Creators on the platform will now have an added feature to create and deliver their specialized skills-based services to their follower base. Sessions can be facilitated either through one-to-one private video chat room, or a group video session with a maximum of 10 people in one session. These video sessions can be availed by the users through micropayments to book the slots for their favourite creators’ sessions. We had launched this feature in May 2020 for a limited set of audience, even before TikTok was banned. 257 creators used the service between May to September and were earning in the range of 50,000-60,000. There is no upper cap on how much they can earn.”
Bolo Meets has categories like Astrology, Fitness, Music, Dance, Instruments, Comedy, Personal Finance, Relationships, and Mental wellness. Average ticket size for the sessions start from as low as Rs 100 for a personalised astrology service, and goes up to Rs 5000 for someone willing to learn a language or dance set.
22-year-old Ishban Yadav, one of the younger creators on Bolo Indya with over 5.5 lakh followers, has seen his income triple after Bolo Meets launch.
“From 257 creators on Bolo Meets, we expect to close December with 25,000+ creators using this service. Our transactions are also increasing month-on-month. Today, creators who are earning in the range of 50,000-60,000, with the scale which we are going to achieve in next few months, we expect this earning to reach around 1 lakh per month for the top 50% of our creators by the time we will end this financial year,” shared Saxena.
The platform currently has over 28 lakh creators, spread across 14 languages. With its unique service offering, Bolo Indya now expects its creator base to grow by 300% by March 2021.
Talking about the strategy behind increasing its creators base, Saxena said, “We expect that our overall creator base will increase by 4X in the next 3-6 months, which will help us increase our user base as well because we will have high quality creators. We don't need to pay a hefty amount to the creators, unlike our peers, to come create content on our platform that happens organically. This brings down our content acquisition cost and our consumers are pulled because of quality content. Through organic content, you also see a surge in distribution. Today, almost 10 million pieces are shared on WhatsApp and Telegram every month. This network will only become stronger with the launch of Bolo Meets.”
Vision for the app
Saxena told us that he envisions the app to cross 10 crore active users by the end of 2021 and continue spending an average of 60 minutes on the app.
With the launch of Bolo Meets, the platform’s aim was to increase engagement on its platform and now, it would focus on polishing its creators skillset and increase its visibility among a larger consumer base.
“We had one thing in mind this time. Whatever we create, it has to be a daily use case and high-frequency case. We don’t see Bolo Indya as a typical short video platform. We see it translating into a larger consumer internet company in the next few years, where it comes at the top of the funnel for a creator and user. We offer videos to get users hooked to spend more and more time on the app, gradually discover social services and avail them and creators are able to turn their social capital into financial independence. We don’t want to create a story of user growth, we want to write a story of user retention and impact that we have on the lives of social creators,” said Saxena.
Bolo Indya has also built a strong team after TikTok’s ban. It is now a team of 28 employees, with people from ShareChat, Byte Dance, BharatPe, PhonePe, Ola Money, and Times Internet and is only expanding. It is also planning to expand its services to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Sharing the app's larger vision, Saxena said, “We are on the mission to leverage the power of short videos, peer-to-peer commerce and network effect to empower every content creator of Bharat to go viral in the shortest span of time and be able to monetize by leveraging the social capital. We are working towards building a daily use case for local language short videos consumption and see ourselves to be on at least one smartphone of every Indian household with a non-English user within the span of next 18 months."
Bolo Indya doesn’t measure its success rate on the number of app installs. Saxena told us that the platform will always measure its growth story by how much its creators are earning and by December 2021, Bolo Indya wants to see its top 50% of the creators earning at least 1.5 lakh per month.
Saxena further shared with us its marketing strategy and focus area for the on-going quarter. Watch the interview below to know more: