We talked to Krithika Raghavan about how Shiju Radhakrishnan established Vocalley and COVID-19’s impact on its business.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Krithika Raghavan: Everyone is staying indoors and staying safe!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Vocalley.
Krithika Raghavan: Conceptualized around mid-2020, Vocalley was founded as a new way for users to consume and react to the news around them based on what’s most-followed and trending among their network.
An Engineer and MBA by qualification, Shiju Radhakrishnan has worked on automation and ERP platforms like Oracle Supply Chain. He has more than a decade-long experience in technology, consulting, and manufacturing. Shiju is an alumnus of SPJIMR, Mumbai & Virginia Tech, US.
In the past, he has co-founded iTraveller.com (2012-2020), a holiday marketplace based in India. By 2019, iTraveller was acquired by lastminute.com as part of its entry into the Indian market. He served as the Director of India OTA business of lastminute.com before moving out. Prior to iTraveller, he has worked in manufacturing supply chain & technology consulting at WIPRO, Ashok Leyland & Cognizant.
How does Vocalley innovate?
Krithika Raghavan: To understand Vocalley, let us take the example of what Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc., have in common? It is the fact that it is replete with peoples’ thoughts and opinions. Each platform has its own USP, from microblogging to short-form video content, etc. From the classic social media platforms, imagine this new space that combines the best of these features while giving you control of the nature of information you consume and respond to. Think microblogging, trends, and news, meet short-form video content. Where you share and discuss your opinions on the latest trends in short 30-second videos, and your community responds with their own videos, engaging in a healthy and positive discussion thread.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Krithika Raghavan: Conceptualised in 2020, vocalley came about during the pandemic. Thus the pandemic only helped create a more focused product that accounted for the future of work and news. With a fully remote team and an online, app-based business, Vocalley is able to sustain itself and grow its user base consistently.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Krithika Raghavan: One of the first difficult choices we had to make was to move completely remote, which wasn’t initially, leading to huge productivity losses. However, we as a team evolved and caught up mostly in a few weeks. The key learning was that when you’re on a mission, the environment doesn’t matter.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Vocalley in the future?
Krithika Raghavan: Currently aggregating the users in India while finetuning their experiences on vocalley from a content & technology standpoint. Immediate future plans include expansion to the US.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Krithika Raghavan: The following are our competitors.
● TikTok (but meant for entertainment & performances – not the news)
● Twitter (but limited to the primary form of textual microblogging)
● Smule (but limited to music tracks)
Vocalley isn’t directly comparable to the above platforms but was inspired by the concept and features of these platforms. To stay ahead of the game, we plan to focus on the growing segment of UGC and consistently focusing on cutting through the fat and keeping the platform focused on the news and people’s opinions. Making it the Voice of the people!
Your final thoughts?
Krithika Raghavan: Vocalley is on a mission to democratize news consumption – we believe we could have meaningful impacts on the lives of people by bringing them the most relevant news that touches their daily lives!