I'm the Technology Editor at Forbes India and I love writing about all things tech. Explaining the big picture, where tech meets business and society, is what drives me. I don't get to do that every day, but I live for those well-crafted stories, written simply, sans jargon.
Q. Tell us briefly about Knorish. What have you focussed on in recent times? We officially launched in December 2019, just at the time of the investment from 100X.VC. Anyone in the creator economy trying to monetise and distribute their content could use our platform to build their end-to-end engine. Infrastructure is what we offer them. We are a SaaS company, a no-code builder for these creators.
Over the last one-and-a-half years, when we started getting more data from the platform, analysing what kind of people were actually the deepest and the biggest users of our technology, we realised it was 95 percent creators only.
Let's pick a case of somebody teaching yoga in Kanpur, who went from 15 people locally to 500 people online using Knorish. That's the power of our platform. Creators can build their entire web presence, mobile app, website, everything needed to go from a small local audience to large online customer base.
Whether it is a newbie or someone with a million followers, when they want to monetise better, they need to build marketing funnels. That's the big moment of clarity that we arrived at. They could be fantastic entertainers, teachers, content creators, but unless they crack funnels, they will not find monetisation success, because these platforms are very competitive.
You'll have to learn to build funnels so that you can unlock monetisation, grow your own earning income, and build a business around it through multiple monetisation channels. The entire stack around marketing funnels is the big evolution we underwent in the last one-and-a-half years.
Q. How do you help someone who's good as a creator, but has no experience in terms of sales and marketing? In a more mature market like the US, there is a playbook. In India, creators need to crack the funnel, for which they will need multiple technologies: A really good landing-page host, good conversion pixel technology, and a great tool to get people to convert in the shortest steps possible. Our tech solves every single piece of this. We are a single-point, infrastructure platform, an entire solution for a creator's journey to monetise. Also read: SaaS Rising: India Is Ready For Its Next IT Moment
Q. Give us a sense of what Knorish has done so far. In the last one year, we've had many milestones. We have 40,000-plus creators building their businesses online using Knorish. Close to a thousand of them are using mobile applications built with our no-code app builder.
These 40,000 creators teach or monetise about a million users across 50 countries. If you see the heat map of people coming to consume this content, it now is in 600 domains—dance, tarot cards, music, mathematics, physics, aerospace, engineering, space observation, so on.
You name a domain, and possibly somebody is teaching something in it. There are ancient concepts like ayurveda, astrology, numerology, palmistry. Then we have Indian Venture Capital Association associated funds helping people learn how to raise funds. Bombay Stock Exchange uses Knorish to offer training. We have clients like Symbiosis University. This creator revolution is just at the beginning stage right now.
Today, we have creators on Knorish from Singapore, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, other parts of the world, too.
Q. How is Knorish doing as a business? From a revenue perspective, in the last four months, we've grown about 100 percent. We are growing almost at a 25 to 30 percent rate, month-on-month. It's been a fantastic run, I would say specifically in the last seven to eight months. The creator economy is evolving in India at a much faster pace than we had expected.
This is reflected in monetisation as well. The total monetisation on the platform in 2020, just at the time when Covid-19 hit, was $1.1 million; that was the clocked monetisation that directly passed through Knorish. The next year, we did close to $4 million. This year, we're looking to do three to four times that. There are also celebrity creators who are using just brand endorsements as a way of monetisation. The famous chef Sanjeev Kapoor is an example. Overall, the true scope of monetisation can be an order of magnitude or two higher.
In terms of funding, Knorish has raised $2.4 million so far, and a Series A investment will be announced soon. Current backers, in addition to 100X.VC, include IPV, Silverneedle Ventures, Andrew Holland, CEO of Avendus, and Bharat Serums Family Office.
We have also optimised our customer acquisition costs, and growth is more organic now. We'll have to strike a fine balance between profitability and keep growing in new geographies to new sectors.
While the SaaS subscription on the platform will remain the main source of revenue, we are also exploring new, revenue-sharing models with celebrities. For example, Shobhaa De and Gurcharan Das have launched courses on Knorish, under these models, where we give them access to our deeper data insights and marketing.
Q. What are some important lessons from building Knorish? One is the importance of constant marketing, distribution and branding; the vision of your brand has to be communicated well. I think as a founder, if you don't have at least one of the founding team members contributing almost 80 percent of their time on marketing, it's going to be a big struggle for you to hit big numbers.
Obviously, you need a great product. Once that is established and you've found a good product-market fit, I think marketing is all that matters.
Second, which I didn’t realise earlier, I would spend much more time on hiring. If you have a great client, you chase them and do whatever you can to convince them. You've got to give hiring the same level of importance. It could have such a huge impact which you can't measure in the early days.
The third is systems thinking. I believe this also comes a bit late to founders, that every time you're solving a problem, you've also got to run a program in your head and think about how do I solve this automatically in the future? Can I build a system, a process, can I automate it somehow? If you can bring in a machine to do the same thing, brilliant. If you can't, how can you make sure that this problem doesn't come to your desk again?
The fourth is fanatic conversations with customers or let's say fanatic focus on customer satisfaction. Whenever somebody comes with solid feedback or something they don't like, they teach you the best. I take it as a brilliant opportunity. Every time you talk to them, you improve, you evolve, and you go to the next stage.