Episode 124 / July 4, 2021
How Josh Talks went viral in India? ft. Co-founder, Supriya Paul
Would you dare to create a TEDx version from scratch for the Indian audience
-Right out of college?
-Without any good-paying job?
-And living on a shoestring budget?
Well, that’s the story of Supriya Paul, Co-founder, Josh Talks, and the guest of this week’s episode of 100x Entrepreneur.
She along with her Co-Founder, Shobhit Banga started Josh Talks in 2015, with a vision to bring access to the right role models for the audience in Tier-II & Tier-III cities. She wanted to create an Indian version of TEDx, that could be accessible in multiple regional languages and bring such stories on the platform which could be easily relatable by their Indian youth.
Today Josh Talks has grown leaps and bounds and some of its milestones include – # 2000+ stories # 10 vernacular languages # No-cost career-guidance under Josh Kosh to 500000+ people/month # 1 Mn+ app installs & 100k+ paid users of their e-learning platform, Josh Skills
During the podcast, Supriya talks about her journey of building and growing Josh Talks over the years and also shares her insights on what keeps her team aligned and focused on delivering their best.
02:18 – Starting Josh Talks straight out of college
05:27 – Revenue growth over time
10:13 – “I think vulnerability & purity in storytelling is what has gotten us this far.”
11:52 – What works on YouTube: Consistency, Authenticity, & Packing as per its algorithm
14:55 – Moments of self-doubt
20:11 – Core metrics for Josh: Talks, Skills & Kosh
24:12 – Business targets over the next 2-3 years
25:23 – Hiring & retaining quality talent
26:01 – All You Need is Josh: Inspiring Stories of Courage and Conviction in 21st Century India
27:58 – Defining work-culture & core values at Josh Talks
29:25 – Strengths & weaknesses of both the co-founders
31:26 – Connecting with Ankur Warikoo as Mentor & Investor
Read the full transcript there:
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:00
Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia, welcome to the 100x Entrepreneur podcast. today, I have with me Supriya Paul, founder of Josh Talks. I know Supriya from the last six years, we both started our journeys together as entrepreneurs, me and my team were building babygobo. And we were one and Supriya and Shobhit just started Josh talks. It was you know in Connaught Place Delhi in a co-working, India’s one of the first co working startup in India called innov8 by common dear friend Ritesh Malik, Supriya, you have come a long, long way from that point. Very proud of you and Shobhit has achieved as you know, could you could you give a brief you know how your journey started as entrepreneurs, I really remember, right, you were doing very well initially as an alternate platform for TEDx in India. And then you, you know, saw that you can build a much more scalable model, which could impact millions of people help them in upskilling. In tier three, tier four, would love to know the thought process and the journey from the last six years how Josh Talks has evolved.
Supriya Paul 01:08
Sure. So, you know, when we started, we were in college, I don’t know if you remember, at that point of time, we had just graduated. And I think we were naive in thought at that point of time on what we should start off with, which is why we choose events as the first medium of Josh talks. But the goal, however, has always been the same, right? The goal is that for someone who’s from a smaller town or city in India, does not speak in English fluently, has not got access to the right kind of role models or the right kind of education, upskilling jobs, etc. How can you be that elder brother who creates that entire ecosystem for them? And that’s sort of been like the thought being behind taking any decision that we’ve taken over the last five to six years. So, we started off in events. And, you know, we used to call these speakers who would come in and give talks anywhere between six to twenty minutes in a format similar to Ted. And the goal, really, at that point of time was to, you know, see how it impacts the audience? Does it actually get them charged? Do people respond well, etc. and events is a lot of fun. We did for about one and a half years, we toured campuses across India, we built like a massive student community, we love Josh Talks. Soon, we got a lot of requests, you know. And it was kind of like replacing the TEDx college version by having a Josh Talks happening on campus instead. But by doing that, what we realized was that, while we were not affecting the audience that we really wanted to impact, people who were actually coming to events, or were being able to afford a ticket or travel were, again, students from tier one India, who had access to infrastructure, you know, that we wanted to create. Second was that an event for us meant focus on the content, but it had become a lot of noise with a lot of event management and things like that. So, we decided that we would move completely away from that model and move into a studio shot model where we would focus only on the speaker and what he or she was saying. And that’s something that we did in 2017. Coincidentally, you know, the Jio revolution that also started to take place at that point of time. And I think that was like the smartest and the biggest decision that we made, which was to move completely into Hindi, from an English or Hinglish platform. And then, soon after Hindi started picking up online on YouTube, we decided to launch in seven other regional languages. So up until last year, we were actually only working on Josh Talks. And the idea was to create a community of people from Bharat from tier two to three to four, India, who aspired to do something in their lives were charged up to get up and actually move forward. And what we’ve been working on in the last one year now is Josh Skill, which is basically creating infrastructure for this audience. Once they’ve seen a story, they’ve heard a new show they are inspired ab meko bhi yehi karna hai zindagi me, mai bhi yehi banungi, Josh skills is a platform that teaches you essential skills that can actually help you get jobs. So, we started out with some core skills, like spoken English, Man personality development, and now we’re working on introducing other technical skills. So that’s sort of been the journey so far.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 04:14
And can you tell the various milestones in the journey like, you know, if you can share what was the revenue back in 2016-17? And what’s the revenue today?
Supriya Paul 04:23
It’s, it’s a I don’t even think it says admissible, but so when we started, we were in events, business sponsorship was the only way for us to generate any form of cash flow. I think the first year we did maybe 40,000 in revenue. The second year, we moved to six lakhs. The third year was 40 lakhs the year after that was one and a half, then five and a half. And then we ended the last year at about 10 and a half. So, it’s been interesting because you know, like our model has changed from being an organization that relied only on ticket sales as revenue to then becoming something that was supported through branded content and ads, to now actually moving away from that model and relying completely on b2c revenue, which is the user directly paying for the courses on the app? So, it’s been sort of like a transition after every couple of years.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 05:13
And what will be the current split? You know, let’s say between the 10 and half. Josh Skills app, which is, you know, people pay for subscription, upskilling and branding and advertisement on the Josh
Supriya Paul 05:28
Skills is fairly new, but it’s about 20 lakhs a month. So, you can take about two and a half cr from last year’s revenue was driven by skill. But now I go live. And you know, COVID has also actually played a part, right? When a lot of advertising revenue has gone down, b2b partnerships have reduced overall for branded content, etc. So now our focus is also moving towards, you know, going completely b2c and focusing on this entirely.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 05:58
Can you also elaborate on your funding journey? Who was your, you know, first investor?
Supriya Paul 06:04
So, I signed up the first investor, we already know, the first investor was Ritesh. And that’s how I stumbled and came to innov8 paying him no rent for forever. and he still, he still mocks me for it. But so I don’t know what it was with us. Right. Maybe we were just stubborn in the beginning. But we were very, you know, we were having a media business, right, like Josh Talks was a media business and we thought that at the base of a media business is profitability, profitability? How can we not generate cash in a business like that? So, we were very frugal, we didn’t raise any money up until the second or third year of operation where we did a small Angel round for one and a half cr, where we had people like Ritesh, we had Girish from freshworks, and a couple of other angels invest. And so, with one and a half crores of capital is what we built, you know, took Josh Talks from one language into seven other languages and built our viewership, I think from it was close to like 500,000, at that point of time to know which is 75 million a month. And early last year is when we raised our PCB way from MDIF, which is a New York based fund. And the idea behind raising the money was very simple. We had already proven new stuff out we had built this funnel, and we wanted to test the funnel to create another product, which for us is skills right now. And that could be raise money for
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 07:30
and you build a business very organically. Starting with a few experiments, seeing what works scaling that. So, can you share your journey of building the current YouTube property of Josh Talks? Like, how did you know the what were the initial sparks that gave you confidence in it? I remember, you know, being able to call speakers such as Anurag Kashyap at your event, and then sharing the recording, which I think was one of the few sparks. Remember, these videos going viral in 2017?
Supriya Paul 08:03
yeah, no, absolutely. So, I think, you know, speakers and speaker research obviously played a very big role in my initial days where we were actually reaching out to people instead of them reaching out to us. And it was difficult to convince people like Anurag to come in. But when they realize that the goal of the platform is to speak to someone who is you know, a younger version of themselves sitting in a small town or village in India, that convincing ability just became easier. And that’s why he agreed then we had people like Boman Irani etc., to come in and give talks. And that did you know, create that initial push, but over time, the platform has evolved a lot. So now it’s almost become like, you know, celebrity talk, don’t do it really well as compared to, you know, an aam aadmi talk because that’s basically what we’re known for right now. It’s almost like you’re gali mohalle ka shopkeeper, hai kirana store owner yeh uski kahani hai ki kaise usne 10,000-rupee se, you know, 2.5 lakh Rs kamaye aur apni family ko education provide karpaaya. So, it’s become completely relatable to the audience that we are trying to cater to. And I think that vulnerability and purity and storytelling is what is actually bought in on this path. Because it’s so it’s a no noise platform, it’s just you, there’s a black background behind you. There’s lightning done in a certain way or on a red spot. And the idea is for you to completely pour your heart out just as you would when you’re talking to a younger sibling. So, it’s not I’m on stage, I’m on a pedestrian, let me talk about you know, the future. It’s more like what did bring what got me over here. And these are all the challenges that I had. And this is how I overcame them. And this is how you can overcome it too. So that’s basically how we sort of developed our content. And you know, when language to language changes, for example, like with Hindi, a huge part of our audience wants aspires to be a government permit. So, we have a huge category in government jobs, as opposed to marotti, where, you know, most of our users are interested in business. So, there are a lot of stories of small and medium businesses, business owners, which have done well. So, we kind of tweak the strategy language to language, but the idea is to, you know, push through great content. And then obviously, like perform very well on YouTube through tags to thumbnails, titles, etc.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 10:25
So how did your you know if you can share? You know, the content strategy through sharing on YouTube? were you sharing like, once a week, if somebody is inspired, it is always inspired in college by Supriya wants to start our own YouTube channel today. Yeah, what would you advise, you know, to kind of what kind of content and the teams that you have built over the last time.
Supriya Paul 10:53
So, it’s evolved a lot, I think what remained the same is consistency earlier, we would probably do one talk a week or one talk every two weeks. But everybody would know that Monday is the talk release date. And everybody would work towards that date. where we are today, we do close to three talks a week for Hindi and English and two talks a week for six other languages. So cumulatively, it’s a lot of content that we’re putting out. But for YouTube, I think a couple of things work for us. One is that consistency, so the user knew exactly when the talk is going to get released, and they were able to keep up with it, they were excited about them, the next release would be the second was authenticity, which is, you know, within the content, like I said, it was unfiltered, completely pure storytelling, you were not putting on a face, you were not trying to show something about yourself that you’re not. And audiences really loved that specially in the demographic that we cater to. And so obviously, those are the two key points. And, you know, the third one would probably be like, a lot of effort goes into packaging. So, a lot of good videos that get unnoticed, because they don’t have the right kind of thumbnails or titles supporting them. And that’s something that we also started to work on quite late. But I think now with the growing wave of creators on YouTube, they’ve already recognized that and have understood the algorithm. So, they’re working on that much, sooner or earlier in their journey. But I think those are the three things that that really help
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 12:23
during your journey was a time that you know, that you were without money to get some loan to buy business.
Supriya Paul 12:34
Yeah. So, we’ve I think we’ve been in moments like that a lot. Because even though we are a profitable business, you know, like Josh talks part of it, it’s heavily reliant on cash flow from advertisers, right. And we all know how like; payments are really bad. And working capital is really bad in an ad run business. But I think the worst time was, we were doing leap, which is where Anurag spoke. And it was after a really long time, we were doing this dhamaka event 6000 people in Delhi University, we’re going to show up, and we had a lot of sponsors pull back on the last minute. And we were literally four days away from the event, we had, you know, 12 lakhs to pay to the stadium. And we had, I think, 80,000 in our account. And we were just going mad with this idea of you know, we need to cancel this. Like that actually was a point where we knew if we didn’t do that event, we would probably shut down. Or we would not be in a situation to get up from that. Because imagine, like 5000 people are coming to see something and you’re going to cancel it last minute, what kind of damage will that have on your reputation. And I remember at that point of time, I met Rana Atheya, who was who is the founder of dogspot, he was in Gurgaon as well. And over breakfast, and it was I was literally just howling and crying and saying that, you know, I’ll have to go back home and say this is not working out, meko corporate job lagadenge meko CA karwa denge, because that’s what I ran away from. And he just, I don’t know what it was, but he didn’t really give me a way out. But he just he just showed a lot of faith in me. And I think that’s what sort of triggered this idea that let’s sell stalls. We have 5000 people coming, let’s sell 100 stalls for 3000-4000-5000 rupees, whatever we were able to sell them for. And let’s get money in. And so, we were able to do that. And then we had to take some amount of money from our friends and family. But we were able to pull that and I think that’s like one of the biggest sorts of like historic moments in our journey, because it completely changed the trajectory of what people perceived us to be, or nothing like that had happened, you know, in India before. And yeah,
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:35
well, that that was given you so much confidence to you on that day that you would have been able to come out of self-doubt.
Supriya Paul 14:45
Yeah, absolutely. And I think as entrepreneur’s self-doubt is the worst thing that you can do to yourself, but it keeps popping up time and time again. But yeah, I think that was a really pivotal moment.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:58
So, what are your other moments of self-doubts have been during the Josh Journey.
Supriya Paul 15:03
So, I mean, it’s these things moved a lot like from moving from an event business to a video business video Also, vernacular video did not exist in 2017, when we were there, there was only maybe towards the other players in the south mostly TV entertainment category, you didn’t know of any channels that actually existed in Marathi Punjabi Bengali. So that was obviously there will be too new for the market or people even going to, you know, consume this content online, then a lot of self-doubt was brought upon, you know, with people saying that motivation will saturate. And you know, nobody will want to view this content over yours. But what we’ve seen is like, our video actually performed better in year two and year three. So, it’s almost like our views grow exponentially in year two, and year three, as opposed to, you know, everybody consuming it at this point of time. So, there are a lot of triggers. But it’s been it’s been a long journey with ups and downs. But I think we’ve been able to overcome a lot of that questioning now.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 16:07
And what are your current self-doubts? Right, current self-doubt, I think what we have scaled, can we build it a 100 cr business now?
Supriya Paul 16:14
I think, I think that’s what and a lot of the ecosystem also triggers your self-doubt from time to time, right? So, I think now that we’re in the space where we’re building, you know, an EdTech business skills is exactly that. There is an opportunity to scale fast, grow, raise more money, you know, and I think that’s where, again, the self-doubt comes in. Are you the most capable person being somebody who’s from a non-technical background to actually run and scale this business? And those are kind of sort of like the question that we have to overcome? Or is it the right time to raise another round of funding? You know, have you been able to actually grow from the funds that we raised previously. But yeah, it’s an interesting phase, it’s another transition. So, it will take some time to get used to it. But it’s also like, you know, moving from, like, we are known for great quality content, we have built an amazing content engine and team from across different parts of the country. And it was difficult to understand the nuances of a person who’s speaking in Malayalam or a person who’s speaking in Telugu. And we finally implemented that and grew in that. And now we’re moving into a business, which is completely tech run. And now we’re trying to understand, you know, hiring for engineers and hiring for product managers, and it’s a completely different ecosystem, from what we know. But I think it’s been like the highest learning curve possible. And it’s been incredible, like over the last one year.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:40
What have been those stories, you know, which made you feel apart from this one, you know, the Anurag Kashyap Stadium, that pulling a funding round? Or, you know, achieving a certain milestone revenue? That you believe, right? This business deserves the next 10 years of your life?
Supriya Paul 17:59
I see, from a fundamental point of view, right, like we are both passionate about the education system in general, right. And I think our belief really is that we were born with an ovarian lottery, but the audience that we cater to, and the demographic that we reach out to work. So how is it that we can just, you know, bridge that exposure and give them the same level of access to role models, education, infrastructure, career, everything online, and be able to bridge that gap completely. And we know that when you’re getting into a problem like that, which is systemic, which has been there for generations, it’s not going to get solved overnight, it’s going to take two to three decades to solve. So, it’s always been that you know, it, we’ve never had a short-term view on this, that it’s going to be something that we, you know, quickly exit from, after building it into a large business, the goal has always been impact and change. So, we always kind of approach problems from that perspective, and try to really think of Where are we in our journey today? And how, how will it kind of evolve in the next two years, three years, five years? 10 years? And 20 years? That’s sort of how we work?
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:11
How do you track the metric, right? That you have impacted our life? The user feedback, which you receive?
Supriya Paul 19:19
Yeah. So, for talks, it’s mostly through the feedback that we receive from users and the comments that we get, you know, and mostly stories revolve around people who actually either been able to crack the government exam, or dropped out off, you know, their current job, started their own business, change the stream in college, left an abusive relationship. Those are the kinds of theories that we keep getting in. And it’s mostly through comments, or we have something called a community tab on YouTube, where we regularly interact with, you know, users and subscribers, and for skills, it’s mostly tracked through completion rate. So, for people who actually compete in the course we track how it sort of changed their life where they’re able to get a job after that on We are not doing the job matching piece right now. But we want to take that up in the future. But right now, we sort of track like, for example, use cases are very different for people when they’re coming in to learn English, it could be as simple as a mother wanting to learn English to talk to her child who lives in the city. And that has a very different kind of an impact and extremely qualitative and emotional. But it could be someone who was in a first job trying to get a promotion and for the promotion requires spoken English. And that’s where we’re able to see, you know, tangible economic impact also in the increase in salary as well.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 20:37
How do you let you know, your mind, not get bogged down by competition in a EdTech because, you know, we have now stories of Byjus, UnAcademy of the world, Vedantu of the world and people when they know that you’re earning a grade EdTech business, right? They’re naturally bound to compare you to the life of these. How do you counter them? And how do you know, not that doubt creep in yourselves?
Supriya Paul 21:04
Yeah. So, I mean, it would be wrong of me to say that, okay, you know, that that thought never occurred to you. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re still in at 20s do you think really, you know, influence your mind, especially when you’re talking to potential investors who have invested in these large organizations. But I think, you know, we try and always circle back to it’s a not, if not a problem, that’s going to be changed overnight, if not a problem that’s going to be changed by, you know, speeding up aggressively. On certain aspects, it’s a problem that we have to look at holistically, and we have to look at like, the last mile solution is perfect as well. Like, for example, we are here we have an opportunity opening, which is doing really well for us, right? So, we have an opportunity to create maybe 15 other communication courses, because everybody wants to learn how to speak more effectively, you know, public speaking, is gaining a lot of interest, online personality development, etc., as well. But now, if we do that, we are we can create a decent sized business, we can charge more money for these courses as well. But does it change somebody’s employability status at the end of the day, not more than when they would have just learned English from the English course. So, then those are decisions that we take where we might be actually taking a back step in terms of quick revenue, or, you know, quick growth in numbers. But then for us is very important. And once this person has actually completed the course, what is the outcome, and completion is also equally important, right? We don’t want to be in the space where two to 3% of our users are actually completing that course, because we didn’t start this for people to not spend time on it. We started it for them to be able to get a job after. And if they’re not even completing the course, or you know, such minor percentage is actually completing, then how are they going to achieve the end outcome? And that’s sort of what keeps us grounded and brings us back.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 22:54
Where do you want to? You’ll see, let’s say Josh business next year, in terms of impact, also, in terms of numbers?
Supriya Paul 23:02
Sure. So, you know, in terms of impact, our goal is to get to about 2 million paid users in the next three years. And that’s sort of the target that we are chasing. Currently, we are at 1 lakh 75,000 paid users on the app. In terms of revenue. From a three-year perspective, we look at it about 100 crores, but from next financial year, it’s about 33. That’s where before to see ourselves headed.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 23:27
Fantastic. And Supriya What do you think right? Is like you were 19–20-year-old when you started building the Josh Box team. And today’s a very mature team. Yeah. You have, like some of the best people in content working with you. How did you get the likes of these people like Anish to work with?
Supriya Paul 23:48
Yeah, I think it’s the same way that we convince people, right? It was always about who are we working for. And everybody knows that, right? Like, if you’re not mission oriented, the same people who work at Josh have the opportunity to work with the largest education companies, right now in India who are producing similar content, and for them to give that decision up and come and join us. It’s purely driven from the impact that they see getting created in the end user’s life when somebody is learning with us, or somebody is watching us, as opposed to another platform. And I think that’s always been the driving force. The second is that we have a culture of complete ownership. We are you know, stubborn, like the average age of the organization is 25. So, you can imagine, like 100 people 25-year-olds working through information like ours. So, what we really try and create is that there’s a lot of, you know, ownership given to everybody. It’s not about just doing your current job or role that’s assigned to you. Everybody picks up one side project that they work on, and when they’re able to see that through I think that fulfills them a lot. So, they have you know, choose to stay with us for long periods of time and continue to work. Yeah.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 24:59
You recently launched a book, right? Or would like to know, what was the purpose of launching the book? How’s the book been received? And how has it played a role in the Josh box brand?
Supriya Paul 25:09
Yeah, no, I think, you know, sort of the idea of launching the book was more from a brand perspective as well, because you know, we’ve had physical events, we have these talks that go up online, we are on all distribution platforms on the internet. But this was just more from something that you can actually take home and hold with you. And so, the book is actually called all you need is Josh. And it features 30 stories of, you know, speakers that have been featured on the platform across different languages over the last five to six years. And this was something that, you know, came as a from users only mostly students who wanted to, you know, they wanted something on Josh in their homes. And the idea started from, you know, let’s have mugs or let’s have merchandise, and then it finally reached a stage where we decided that let’s do a book. And coincidentally, like it all worked out. Bloomsbury had also reached out to us at that point of time, saying that, you know, would you be interested in taking this audio-visual media into another form? And so, we decided to publish them? And yeah, it, the book came out one on 30th. April, actually. So, it’s been fairly new. And even though there’s been like, the whole COVID second wave, we’ve still seen a great response. It’s been on number two, on Amazon in the self-help and motivation category. So, people are really liking it and appreciating it.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 26:34
And so, if I asked you what have been the three top things which hold the Josh culture today of what is it right, 100-member team, very high energies of 25 years old, but you know, you’re scaling rapidly. So, it must be a process to this madness.
Supriya Paul 26:55
Yeah, we’re in the process of creating a process to the madness, which we are always in that process. So yeah, but I think, you know, like, so we have these words, and like, even if you come and visit our office, you will see like Josh talks photos across the walls of speakers. And then there are these words, and those words sort of define our culture. And the first word is Vridhi. And that’s something that I’ve been called my entire life, that I’m the most abundant Vridhi person. And I think that’s one of our core values, and we try and inculcate that in everybody, that for something that you’re passionate about, or that you love, or that you want to do and implement, you have to be Vridhi, that’s the only way that it will get done. The second is, you know, complete authenticity. Because a lot of content that we deal with, or you know, things that we create, we can easily get enamored by the outside world, and try and do things for, you know, views, or downloads or purchases, etc. But be authentic to the call, which is what sort of unites everybody together at Josh. And that’s sort of the second value that we have. And the third is ownership, like, you have to be accountable for what you do, nobody else will ever, you know, if you end to end, if it works, or if it doesn’t work, you have to take accountability for what you’ve done. And that’s dual sort of like the middle pillar that the team is built on.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 28:15
And in a previous interview, you mentioned that, you know, you both Shobhit and you the founders of Josh Talks are very different. So, what are your strengths and Shobith strength this you bring to the table? And similarly, what are your both weaknesses? Right?
Supriya Paul 28:30
Yeah, yeah, I think we work very well together, because we are able to kind of, you know, I mean, we are able to complement each other skill sets in that way. So, for example, like Shobith is a hardcore, you know, user focused, product person, right? So, his way of working is completely immersing him into one problem and not interacting with anybody else who during that problem, till he solves it? Like, you know, just as an example, he, when all of us are like sort of living, here in Gurgaon, etc., in our apartments, he chooses to live, where most of the swiggy delivery bhaiya stay in the Sikanderpur, because he just wants to be able to track the behavior day in and day out, actually work with them, show them the app make changes where they are. So, he’s super determined to solve for the mission. And that’s something that you know, you see, even in his style of work is dedicated to what’s going to help the end user and nothing else matters to him, me from that perspective, I think you know, that while I am also equally mission oriented, I try and keep like our feet on the ground, and ensure that we have a business around everything that we do. For example, like earlier, I was working on the entire b2b partnerships and ad sales business for Josh talks, and I built that up. So those are sort of like strengths where my focus is mostly on you know, partnerships, business development, fundraising, etc. And his is more on the product side. And yeah, I think that weaknesses could also probably be counterintuitive. Like, for example, he’s not very, you know, like, he doesn’t like External Relations too much. Well, that’s something that I enjoy a lot, too. We kind of complement each other there.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 30:19
I think, you know, Ankur Warikoo mentions about Josh and you and Shobith a lot about honestly. So how has your relationship been like, has he been an investor or a mentor?
Supriya Paul 30:30
Yeah, so he, so he started out with actually being a speaker, Ankur was a speaker at Josh Talk Gurgaon in 2015. And at that point of time, he was in Groupon. And he used to run like, even active on Quora. Not sure if you remember, but he was one of the few people who actually build this decent Quora. And he used to give out his email id who there and then I just reached out to him saying you should come and give a talk. And that’s how we met. And after the event got over, he actually wrote in saying that I have been a part of so many events, and I’ve spoken at, you know, so many festivals, college events, etc. But I have never seen something which was coordinated, so smoothly, end to end, but it was, you know, an experience for a speaker also to be a part of that and to witness that. And that’s how we started talking. And then, you know, we met him at nearby, he was subleasing his office space in nearby, we ended up working there for one and a half years after innov8. And that’s actually where we sort of like, you know, used to see him, he was quite a role model for us, right? Like he would be handling such a large team, he would just be walking down in the lunch Hall, he would be able to catch up with him for 5-10 minutes. Men continue to learn from him. And then eventually he did become a shareholder in Josh. So yeah, it’s grown there. But he’s been consistent. I think Ritesh and Ankur have been like a part of our journey from day one, and are still as actively involved as they were then.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 31:56
Fantastic. Great to have, you know, such pillars who you can lean on in tough times. Yeah. So one thing which I wanted to ask you know, about your josh skills app, you have been focused on voice speeches or not? what’s the reasoning behind it?
Supriya Paul 32:12
Yeah. So, I think, you know, if you look at the demographic that we cater to, it’s essentially, you know, people from tier two, tier three to four India, with a very different style of consumption. And we actually started this course on WhatsApp. So, we said that, okay, we know, none of us are from a tech background, let’s not go deep into actually building out an app. Let’s create a small pilot on WhatsApp. And let’s use features that are available on WhatsApp since it’s the platform that they our users use the most. And see what can we actually do from a learning point of view there. So, what we used to do is that we used to use the WhatsApp mind feature and every day at 8 AM, there would be a teacher who would record a class and send it on voice. And then you would have to send in your answers on voices. Well, we do not really, we used to use a bit of video, but not so much because from our facial storage point of view for the end user. And then voice feature really worked for us over there, and the chat did as well. So, when we basically built the app, we decided to you know inculcate those two aspects from WhatsApp as the first thing which was chat and voice. And I think like, you know, can be decided to focus on spoken English as the first course, what we really saw was that there are a lot of courses that are there available in the market, but there is nothing that’s getting you to practice daily. And that’s the only thing that’s important. Everybody in India, almost everybody in India knows broken words, they no like A for apple B for bat etc. thodi bahut suni hui hai unhone but the ability to confidently put the sentence together is something that we felt was lacking. And the only way to get to that stage was if you just practice day in and day out and scope. So even on the app today, we have a feature called p2p which is like our speaking tactics, where you can call anybody else on the app who’s learning and practice with them. And that’s where users spend a lot of their time. I mean, there are users who spend close to maybe even 10 hours of the app a day, just speaking. But an average person spends close to 42 minutes just speaking on the app per day.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 34:17
How do you know that people are not using it for dating purposes, right?
Supriya Paul 34:22
Actually, using it for dating purposes is great for us because we’re building a community, right? and like why we used to go to college? I think a lot of us went to college, not for the outcome of college, but to find our prospective partners or to you know, have fun, engaging events, etc. And that’s it. It’s interesting that you say that, because even when we talk about it in 30, we literally talk about it as that, that for people to complete a course online, it has to be much more than what’s being taught. It’s about who’s teaching Who are you learning with? How are you interacting? What are the things that you do besides learning, and all of that kind of motivates you to stay within the code and that’s what we’re trying to create?
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 35:03
Thank you so much for prayer has been fantastic to know the Josh journey. I wish you 10s of millions of more users, millions of millions of revenues, you know, wonderful to see how Josh evolved in the last six years,
Supriya Paul 35:18
thank you so much. This was super fun, and it’s so great to connect with you. Again. It’s always amazing to connect back with someone who you know, was like, at the same position as you on day one, and it’s inspiring to see how your journey has evolved as well. So, thank you for having me.