News in Shorts was founded in 2013 by Azhar Iqubal, Anunay Arunav and Deepit Purkayastha. Two years since, the young start-up has already attracted the interest of prominent investors and entrepreneurs like Times Internet, Tiger Global and Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal among others. Such has been the interest in the three founders’ vision, that the company raised Rs 25 crore in Series A funding back in February 2015 and more recently, Rs 127 crore in Series B funding this month.
The premise behind News In Shorts is simple—squeeze the latest news stories of the day into 60 words; no spice, no extra colouring , just the plain, basic facts.
CEO, News In Shorts, Azhar Iqubal, explains their decision to opt for a 60 word format.
“There is some special connection between the human brain and the number 60; you have 60 seconds, 60 minutes, and so on. Also, typically, a person decides within two sentences whether the story is interesting. So, if you consider 20-30 words in one sentence, the number comes to near 60,” explains Iqubal.
The idea of News In Shorts arose, after the three founders noticed that their classmates were not in the habit of reading news. “We thought about it and decided that it has to be something to do with the way newspapers are designed or because the stories were too in-depth or too serious. People do not seem to have the time to read long stories. There is some block in our generation when it comes to reading,” he says.
The three friends set out to design a platform which would make it very easy for a reader to scan through news. The concept was on the premise that content is discovered via the picture and the headline, everything else is superfluous (though the News In Shorts app does allow a user to read the entire story if they choose).
Simplicity is the watchword for the team. “Our app is designed to be simple. There are thousands of news updates every day but maybe only 30-40 of these might be interesting enough for me. Distribution of content is a big problem,” says Iqubal.
To do this, News In Shorts has a 15 member editorial team to edit and put up stories. The overall team strength is 32 but following recent investments, the company is looking to rapidly increase its strength. Another thing that will be scaled up is the number of news stories put up every day. Currently, Iqubal informed us, there are around 70-80 stories uploaded every day. The team wants this count to go up to 100-120. “We want to expand the team. We want to be the platform for discoverability of content,” he stresses.
Also, part of the plan is to improve site analytics and personalisation. But the ambition does not end here; Iqubal admitted that the team is considering getting into video content and other languages like Tamil, Hindi, etc. However, one thing not on the agenda is monetisation, though he agreed that there were a number of potential revenue models.
“We want to create a brand for the product. Right now the focus is on improving the UI and capabilities,” he said.