Magzter will soon have newspapers and books as well

exchange4media speaks to CEO & Co-founder Girish Ramdas and President Vijay Radhakrishnan to understand the digital magazine newsstand's journey, its future plans and much more

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: May 3, 2018 8:51 AM  | 5 min read
Vijay Radhakrishnan & Girish Ramdas

Magzter, the cross-platform global digital magazine newsstand, which started out in 2011 with 35 magazines now offers more than 10,000 magazines from more than 50 countries. Having crossed the 10,000 mark, the digital newsstand now plans to bring another 10,000 magazines on board in the next few years. exchange4media caught up with Girish Ramdas – CEO & Co-founder of Magzter, and Vijay Radhakrishnan –President, to understand the company’s journey, its future plans and much more.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

You have crossed the milestone of 10,000 magazines. Looking back, how has the journey been?

Girish Ramdas: Magzter started in 2011 with 35 magazines and a dream of becoming the Number 1 digital reading destination for magazines in the world. In the last seven years, we have pulled all stops to reach out to publishers across the globe to make the trusted premium content of magazines available to users all over the world. Now that we have crossed the 10,000 mark, we are now targeting to bring another 10,000 magazines on board in the next few years. 

The journey so far has been really exciting and very fulfilling since we have pioneered a digital revolution for magazines and have emerged as the leader of the global publishing industry, which is fast transforming from print to digital. Crossing this milestone has now made Magzter the undisputed #1 digital magazine destination in the world.

Magzter has attained tremendous success within a short span of time. What are the factors that catalyzed this growth?

Vijay Radhakrishnan: We would like to thank our publisher partners and loyal customer base for our tremendous success. This success was achieved in a short span of time due to the following factors: 

• Readers were looking to read magazines on their smart devices, and Magzter became their default app for this.
• The tremendous growth of smartphones and tablets further fuelled the need for digital magazine content.
• The recent spurt in fake news has given the renewed need for trusted content, which is available in Magzter in various forms such as best-selling magazines, editorially curated articles and latest news from trustworthy sources.
•Word of mouth and social media have played a vital role in Magzter reaching 37 million downloads in the last seven years.

Where does Magzter stand in the global market?
Girish Ramdas: Magzter is the No 1 digital magazine store in the world in terms of magazine count, trusted content, user count and engagement. Magzter continues to be the No. 1 magazine app on Google Play Store and iOS App Store in India, beating stalwarts like The Economist, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Can you throw some light on the numbers regarding the devices that access Magzter platform, specific to India?
Vijay Radhakrishnan: Magzter has so far been downloaded by more than 6.2 million iOS users and 5.5 million Android users in India. On the web, Magzter has over 13 million users in India.

Is Magzter planning to expand to newer segments?
Girish Ramdas: Yes. Magzter has been the front-runner in the magazine world, enabling millions of users to read varied content in one app. Magzter is soon going to launch newspapers, books, and other trusted content on the platform. In addition to this, Magzter has also pioneered Smart Reading Zone, a revolutionary GPS-based feature that can give unlimited reading access to any location instantly.

Several strategic partners, including libraries, educational institutions, hotels, housing communities, airports and hospitals, are partnering with us for Smart Reading Zones.

What is your current marketing focus?
Vijay Radhakrishnan: Our current marketing focus is to make more users subscribe to Magzter GOLD, which gives them unlimited access to more than 5,000 magazines and curated premium articles. We’re open to working with any marketing channel that can bring us genuine Magzter GOLD users.

Tell us more on Magzter Premier League (MPL)
Girish Ramdas: This IPL season, we’re running an exciting series of contests under the name ‘Magzter Premier League’ with the support of publishers. In MPL, users will have to answer questions asked from leading sports magazines like Sports Illustrated India, which in turn increases the downloads of such magazines. The winners of MPL will win exciting goodies, autographed by leading Indian cricketers.

What's the future of cross-platform digital magazine stores?
Vijay Radhakrishnan: The magazine industry is a $100 billion industry globally. Trusted content is always in demand and users prefer to read on multiple devices. Magzter gives access to iOS devices, Android devices and the web for a single account. We understand that 1.6 billion people are still reading in print, and digital magazines account for less than 10% of that. Over the next 10 years, we are hoping to scale big and grow exponentially with B2B sales and innovative ad models.

How important is innovation to growth in the industry?
Girish Ramdas: Innovation is very important for the growth of any technology company, and it holds good for Magzter as well. Magzter’s ecosystem is fully automated and cloud-based, thereby making the publishing and reading experiences hassle-free. We constantly work with tech partners, publishers and strategic partners to innovate new delivery and pricing models. Our focus has always been user-centric. As the users' needs evolve, we try to understand and cater to their changing needs. It is the benefit of continuous innovation that Magzter continues to grow even after seven years.

What next for Magzter?
Vijay Radhakrishnan: Magzter continues to grow exponentially year-on-year and has become one of the very few profitable start-ups in the recent times. We will continue to focus on increasing the profitability and further innovate on our platform. We are focusing on increasing the subscription growth and video content, and also on introducing
many new initiatives such as Smart Reading Zone and premium ad model.

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