30 Under 30: Suchita Salwan helps people discover cities anew

Published: Feb 15, 2017 06:59:32 AM IST
Updated: Feb 15, 2017 10:29:06 AM IST

30 Under 30: Suchita Salwan helps people discover cities anew
Image: Amit Verma

Suchita Salwan | 26

Founder & CEO, Little Black Book
Category: Social Media, Mobile Tech & Communication

While working as a marketing executive for BBC in New Delhi, Suchita Salwan would spend her weekends exploring the city—a spunky new bar, a cultural hotspot or shops that offered a great bargain.

What started in 2012 as a blog on Tumblr, to help her friends discover Delhi anew, now has 1.5 million monthly active users and a loyal Twitter following.

Aptly called Little Black Book, the service, which includes a website and an app, currently offers local recommendations and discoveries for food, events, lifestyle and cultural dos across three cities—Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

“We see extraordinary amounts of consumer retention,” says Salwan, who quit her corporate career to pursue Little Black Book full-time, soon after the service started gaining traction.

Unlike platforms like BookMyShow, Zomato or the now web-only Time Out that help users find what they’re already looking for, Little Black Book helps users unravel experiences unknown to them. “Today’s urban millennial users want to be surprised,” asserts Salwan. According to her, the most successful tech platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, are used multiple times a day by people because they never know what they’re going to find. “On Little Black Book too, users never know what they’ll find, but they know it’ll be exciting,” she quips.

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She attributes the platform’s phenomenal growth in monthly active users—from 120,000 in May 2015 to 1.5 million today—to “a really strong product”.

Add to that a strong revenue model and Salwan appears to have hit a sweet spot. Brands like Airbnb, Adidas, Reebok and Snapdeal regularly advertise on the platform, not by way of annoying banner ads, but through clever native advertising. “The great part is that our revenue has grown at the same rate as our number of users,” claims Salwan, adding that Little Black Book broke even within six months of receiving $1.2 million in pre-Series A funding from IDG Ventures and the Indian Angel Network (IAN) in May last year.

“The Little Black Book team is driven by values of hustling and frugality. They own their vision and that helps them to execute better,” explains IAN President Padmaja Ruparel.

Nimble, industrious and impatient to help people “search less [and] do more” Salwan has her sights set: “We want to take the platform to cities all over the world. No matter who you are, where you stay or what your interests are, you should be able to find the best recommendations on Little Black Book.”

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30 Under 30: Suchita Salwan helps people discover cities anew

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(This story appears in the 17 February, 2017 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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