With the penetration of smartphone and Internet, consumption pattern of news has changed in a big way. Unlike sourcing information from media houses directly (through website, newspapers, and television), tech-savvy young audience preferred short and handy news apps such as Dailyhunt, InShorts, UC News, NewsDog and others.
Certainly, these apps have been helping the time-starved young audience to filter their feed ‘based on interest’ and read the crux of happenings. The number of installs amassed by the aforementioned news apps along with their DAUs has strengthened the belief that ‘long form’ pieces won’t work in digital format.
But, that’s not true. The long form is still a potent force to reckon with and Knappily has proven it. The Bengaluru-based news analysis app that gives a holistic view of current affairs and features on politics, sports, business, technology, philosophy, mythology, movies, TV shows, and others.
Long form is alive and kicking
A little over two years old startup, Knappily has been rated as one of the highest rated news apps on Google Play Store. And recently, it included among the five news apps recommended by Google. The one and only inclusion from India in the category.
“Who would want to read so much? – said many before Knappily was launched”, says Yashaswi Kumar, founder, and CEO of Knappily.
He outlines, everybody would want to read more if they are convinced they will get to know more.
“We noticed the social conversations getting restricted to the headlines, and young people, all of whom had at least one news app, struggling to make sense of the important news and issues of the world,” adds Yashaswi.
The reach of short format news pieces is wide but they often carry repeated information and are shallow in nature. The capsule-sized news pieces also leave users with incomplete knowledge and lack of understanding on the issues peddle the reach of fake news phenomenon.
The inherent problem of shallowness with short news format has triggered team Knappily to traverse the less travelled path.
“It was not a matter of deliberately playing the contrarian. But the contrarian stand – which means refusing to yield to the myth that people these days don’t want to read – became inevitable in our quest,” emphasises Yashaswi.
With a team of 15, Knappily promises to make you a subject matter expert on the relevant topic in two minutes. In fact, Knappily saves a lot of time for users by writing deeply rooted pieces of information for which one would typically require to go wild on Google and then make sense out of the chaos.
Knappily is powered by humans not AI
While Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been buzzwords amongst startups, Knappily work is powered by humans. “Given the current state of artificial intelligence, it is better to have humans at the helm of content creation,” says Yashaswi.
Explaining further, he adds, “Most of our readers say they like the assortment of topics that we cover. The thing is you do not really know what you would like to read (and know) till you read it. Then there is the fallacy of Facebook providing you the news you need. Actually, it provides you the news you ‘like’.”
Analyse users’ feedback Knappily way: Lesson for product companies
Acting on users feedback helps startups in evolving and shaping the product, however, Indian product companies rarely take users suggestion seriously. Nevertheless, Knappily claims to analyse close to 90 per cent of the suggestions made so far. This actually helped the company in tweaking the offerings and spread word of mouth.
“Listening to users made us not to grow consistently while retaining our rating without investing a single penny on marketing,” says Yashaswi.
Knappily was launched in January 2016. The idea took root around a year before actual launch. While a part of so far investment has come through an angel, the rest has been ploughed in by the founding team.
At present, the company claims to have 200K downloads with about 80 thousands active users. About 14,000 active users check the mobile or web app on a daily basis while 3,000 users bookmark available content for consuming later regularly.
“Also, these numbers are undergoing changes now. The downloads have shot up post the Editors’ Choice listing,” adds Yashaswi.
Finding a place in ‘Editors’ Choice list’ with 4.8 rating
“We were not trying to get the rating. We were convinced about the viability of our product, and the indispensability of hard work. Ratings can be bought (or farmed). But respect is earned. We chose to go for the latter, and the former came along,” asserts Yashaswi.
One big reason for its high rating is that those who download know what to expect and are happy with the offering.
Though Google doesn’t specify what exactly determines the selection to its coveted Editors’ Choice list, it is logical to assume that the quality of reviews plays a vital role.
Civil services and IIM aspirants: Committed users of Knappily
A typical Knappily user is between 18 and 35 years of age. About 70 per cent of its users are males with 85 per cent users hailing from India. The average session time is around 8 minutes.
When it comes to user behaviour, Yashaswi says, “It’s difficult to quantify it, but from the reviews and the feedback, it’s clear that Knappily is used and valued by many Civil Services (IAS) aspirants in India.”
For that matter, Knappily is steadily becoming the go-to app for competitive examinations with a component for general knowledge. “It is not uncommon to have users bookmark more than 500 knapps on their phones for later reference,” adds Yashaswi.
The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have announced their results recently, and Knappily is in receipt of many emails which say the interview was a cakewalk because of Knappily.
Knappily can make America great again
Besides English, Knappily is set to launch in vernacular languages, beginning with Hindi. It already had launched two online courses which said to be well received by the users.
It also plans to launch online educational courses; two programs have already been launched, and they have been well-received. Importantly, Knappily also going to open an e-commerce store. The startup is getting a decent traction from the US and it eyes to build significant user base there.
“Knappily can make American great again if they are to be believed,” concludes Yashaswi on a lighter note.