We had a discussion with Mr Adhish Verma, CEO & Founder, The Cofounder (India’s First Startup Magazine) about the vision that he has for Indian startups.
Adhish Verma is the Founder and CEO at “The Cofounder”. He has worked with a wide range of clients including Twitter, Adobe, Zazzle, Chronicle Books and Sidereel; to name a few. Over the past decade or so, Adhish has helped both well-established and start-up companies take their ideas from sticky notes and whiteboards to fully developed robust manpower that serves vast specialized communities.
His expertise ranges from Tech Hiring to CXO level Blogging. Adhish is an active member of the web community and can often be found at local meetups and conferences in and around NCR. He has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration MBA.
When was the Magazine launched?
Ans: The Cofounder launched its first edition in October 2016.
Please tell us about the founders, names, roles, what’s the story and when did you start working together.
Ans: I have co-founded it with Arunraj Rajendran. Arunraj is the co-founder at “The Cofounder”. He is managing the content team and stories published in the magazine, he is also responsible for Social Media Marketing. Arun played various roles in industries such as Business Analyst, Product Analyst, Digital Marketing, Growth Hacker etc. and have co-founded two startups before associating with “The Cofounder”. His passions include Cricket, Blogging, Travel and Photography. He has completed PGDM specialized in Marketing, Systems & Operations.
The inception of “The Cofounder” is the most unrealistic yet interesting story you will ever read. It’s the tale of two founders who has never met each other, raised a seed funding to launch India’s first startup magazine. I was writing articles on early startups in my online blog named HireStreet. When I was looking for a co-founder who can take my blog forward, I found Arunraj on Facebook who was writing a similar kind off a blog. We both collaborated and started writing for HireStreet, and we have begun getting pretty good traction. And after few months, when we wanted to take next big step, we came up with an idea of launching a hardcopy magazine which writes exclusively about early stage startups in India. The idea was presented to investors, and we were fortunate enough to find an investor who believed in our vision.
The most interesting part was that we meet each other for the first time only during the date of signing the term sheet with our investor.
Please tell us about the investors (if any).
Ans: We have raised Angel round of funding from Sanjay Choudhary of SharpEdge Solutions Inc. SharpEdge Solution is UK based organization which has been providing best quality and cost-effective IT solutions to fortune 1000 companies, mid-range companies and upcoming companies via its onsite, Offshore and in-house service models. Sharpedge offers Services in broad scale from Design, architecture, development to Implementation and support.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: The principle behind The Cofounder are,
- A cost effective startup magazine for both buyer and content curator (clients).
- To give start-ups a way of impacting the market and establish their reach through a visually appealing and a much cost effective manner which can be scaled.
- To become the news bearer and a personal favorite for all start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The main problem we are trying to solve is there is no cost effective way for the startup to reach out a wide range of audience. If you see any online blogs, they cover only funded startups, whereas we want to give limelight on early stage startups who are doing good in the market. Share their journey so that we can inspire next generation of entrepreneurs.
And today there are 100s of online blogs, and you can’t find out which is authentic and which is not. And your story often gets lost in the crowd.
Tell us about the Product / Solution.
Ans: Coming from a startup background ourselves, we know the struggle of getting a media or PR coverage for your startup, especially if you are not funded, and still in early stage of your journey. We spoke to many entrepreneurs we found the same problem.
We want to help startups outreach their customers, but at the same time not lost on the Internet. We decided to go back in time and bring back the touch and feel of the startup magazine. We don’t have any magazine which exclusively covers early stage startup.
Today, we are recognized by Narendra Modi’s Startup India campaign and acknowledged by Ministry of Entrepreneurship.
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have?
Ans: Our ideal target customers are college students, founders/entrepreneurs, wantrepreneurs, coworking space, startup hubs, incubators, investors, etc.
Our reach so far:
- Magazine sales: 2.5 laks+
- Subscribers Reached: 10K.
- Events Sponsored: 2
- Wiki Mention: Start-up India
- Reach: 7 states, 400 Shops
- Co-working space Reach: 220 across India
- Library Partners: 10 IIM’S 7 IIT’s
How are you pricing the Product?
Ans: We have different pricing for customers and startups:
- Customers: INR 100/magazine. It’s a monthly startup magazine, INR 100 per month is not a big deal, you get to learn inside stories of around 25-35 startups every month.
- Startups: We charge a small amount for editorial and advertisement (We are a startup, so we know the budget of other startups).
How did you get your first customer?
Ans: We had a distribution channel in place when we launched our startup magazine, we did a trial run and got a good response in our first month of launch. In fact, we were out of stock in the first month. We distributed to coworking spaces across India to reach out to maximum startups.
What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger? If so, how?
Ans: In the future, we want to establish our self as Digit/Chip for startups in India.
What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: We don’t have any magazines in India which write about early stage startup. We are the first movers, we have clearly defined our USP and working towards it.
List all the names of the core Team Members.
- Ashutosh Joshi – V.P. Sales
- Siddhant Gupta – Designer
- Karan Makhijani – Marketing Head
- Rishi Bammi – PR & Media Head
- Vivek Talwar – Operations Head
Who do You Perceive as Your Competition?
Ans: There are no direct competitors for us since our target audience, and value proposition is different from whatever our competitors are offering. But still, we consider Forbes, YourStory, INC42, Entrepreneur as our competitor.
What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: We want to expand our presence to as many cities possible, especially Tier II cities. We are also partnering with colleges so that we can reach and help next gen entrepreneurs.
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Start small, create an impact, then go big. Don’t chase funding unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t start a me-too startup.
Entrepreneurship is a tough battle, learn to say no, learn to accept failure, learn to take success lightly and move on. Remember 95% of entrepreneurs fail, but 100% of all entrepreneurs learn.
Learn every day, experiment every day, network and help your fellow entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, we are in the same ecosystem, and we have to grow mutually.
Also in the last I would like to day “Dont be greedy and keep hustling!”
Address of Startup
Ans: Teamup coworking, C 32, (behind Wave Cinemas) Kaushambi, Ghaziabad, UP 201010