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Varun Saxena, Co-Founder, Bolo IndyaBI India
Close to 25 lakh users connected with Bolo Indya the same week the ban on Chinese apps was announced
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Bolo Indya’s founder wants to offer every consumer and content creator an opportunity to earn through content marketing

Close to 25 lakh users connected with Bolo Indya the same week the ban on Chinese apps was announced
  • The ban on TikTok gave homegrown app Bolo Indya a huge boost.
  • Within 24 hours of the ban, Bolo Indya saw 62 minute+ daily time spent by active users, at par with time spent on TikTok, more than 5 times of time spent on other homegrown applications.
  • We spoke to Varun Saxena, Co-Founder, Bolo Indya to understand how he envisions to take its 26 lakh MAU to 10 crore by end of 2021, what helps it stand out in the clutter and monetisation plan.
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TikTok has left a new playing field for the homegrown video platforms. Bolo Indya, a User Generated Content video app, saw a spike in its user count with 25 lakh users connecting with it in the same week the ban on 59 Chinese apps was announced by the Government of India.

Today, Bolo Indya’s MAU stands at 36 lakh and DAU at 22 lakh, with users spending close to 62 min per day and creating over 15 lakh on the platform.

Launched in May 2019, the platform was seeing a steady 22% 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. Bolo Indya recognised this gap and decided to focus on localisation, empowering its talented users by making sure they earn at least Rs 30,000 a month through content marketing and on its video chatting feature.

Bolo Indya was quick to realise its strengths and started building on it by monetising its application towards the end of 2019. Then came the pandemic-induced lockdown which 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.

As a result, three months into 2020, Bolo Indya surpassed its 2019 revenue.

Explaining the revenue model, Varun Saxena, Co-Founder, Bolo Indya, said, “Our revenue model at scale will see platform fee out of video commerce for services as a major contributor to revenue. Currently, a major part of revenue is coming from Content Marketing where we have clients from both India and the US.”

Sustaining the growth

While there are quite a few other homegrown platforms that are doing well as a direct result of TikTok's ban, Saxena says Bolo Indya was around even before the movement to boycott Chinese products started rising in the country. He is confident that even if TikTok comes back, Bolo Indya will continue to achieve its goals.

On what differentiates the app to stand out in the clutter, Saxena said, “We had always been building towards giving a better alternative than TikTok. We allow content creators to leverage passion economy through short videos in regional languages and become financially independent. Thus, we never revolve around just ad based-model unlike all other short video apps which are just the pixel to pixel replica of TikTok, be it content flavor or business model. This means that in the middle term when and if TikTok returns, just its xerox apps would find it challenging to sustain, while Bolo Indya would continue to grow, just like we were when Tiktok was there.”

Currently, content creators as well as consumers are exploring all the possible options available in the market to find a permanent home. For Bolo Indya, the challenge is not to attract new users but to retain what it has already acquired.

“This storm will settle down till Diwali 2020 and that's when we will have a clearer picture of which platform among Indian apps is emerging as a winner. For example, we have over 82% retention of the users who have come to us over the last 10 days, while some of the other apps have less than 20% as their social media posts,” said Saxena.

He also anticipates that TikTok will come back and is preparing his team to be ready when it does. He has also on-boarded an experienced Partnerships Head in his team to strengthen its monetisation plan.

“We are preparing majorly for the situation when the TikTok ban is lifted because we expect it to happen in a few months. Thus, our core differentiation for creators shall continue to be the reason for them to stick to us, and use Tiktok simultaneously, while other apps may find it a lot more challenging to retain the users as so far they have not offered anything different than TikTok to content creators or consumers,” he shared.

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.

“We have a vision where we foresee Bolo Indya being on at least one smartphone in every Indian household. At the same time, we want to take India's regional users' talent, experiences, opinions and skills to a global stage in sync with the Vocal for Local campaign of Prime minister, and have our creators leverage the global stage for both popularity and earning,” said Saxena.