Vernacular storytelling platform Pratilipi has recorded a rapid spurt in readership of its content in 2020. The self-publishing app has seen its monthly active users or MAU base grow from 10 million to 20 million in a span of five months according to the company’s co-founder and CEO Ranjeet Pratap Singh.
The Tencent-backed firm took five years to reach 10 million MAUs and the next 10 million active users came in just five months, claimed Singh on Twitter.
“We have consistently grown about 50% quarter on quarter, it is just that the base is bigger. The new addition looks much bigger as well,” Singh told Entrackr. “The 20 million MAU is for Pratilipi’s core product including Web, Android and iOS. However, it doesn’t include new products Pratilipi Comics and Pratilipi FM.”
The platform has around 2 million daily active users for its core product.
When asked about how the lockdown has triggered Pratilipi’s usage, Singh said: “The lockdown did increase our usage but not significantly, about 20-25% additional growth on both readers and writers.”
During the period, the time spent by users on the platform also increased significantly. According to Singh, Android users spent about 57 mins per user per day while iOS and web app users spent around 54 mins and 14 minutes per day on the platform.
This is notable growth in terms of time spent by users for the vernacular app, which was 34 minutes in 2018 and 43 minutes a year ago.
“Pratilipi is primarily known for fiction and literature which are about 70% of our total content and 80% of the readership. While maximum traction and engagement come from Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Malayalam are the next three languages on Pratilipi,” Singh said.
Founded by Singh, Sankaranarayanan Devarajan, Rahul Ranjan, Sahradayi Modi and Prashant Gupta, Pratilipi is available in 12 languages and has amassed over 200K writers, 10.7 million readers and 200K stories on the app.
Apart from Tencent, the firm has raised over $30 million from several blue-chip backers.
Pratilipi competes with ShareChat, Helo, YourQuote and Matrubharti among a few others. The consistent growth of Pratilipi shows that vernacular writing and reading have been catching on among Internet users across India’s smaller cities and rural areas.
At present, India has a little over 500 million active internet users. The next half a billion users will be pure-play vernacular and platforms like Pratilipi and ShareChat are slated to cross the 100 million MAU mark in a few years from now.
This is also the reason for the interest of large investors like Tencent, Qiming Venture, Lightspeed and Twitter in the vernacular content space.
ShareChat is the largest player in the vernacular content space with about 60 million MAU and it’s available across 15 languages. Chiratae-backed YourQuote boasts of less than 10 million MAUs at the moment whereas Matrubharti is yet to reach a substantial scale.
On the other hand, Bytedance-owned Helo hasn’t given any number on MAU and DAUs since July last year. Almost a year ago, it claimed to cross 50 million MAUs with a projection of having 100 million monthly active users by 2019. However, it hasn’t claimed anything since mid-2019.
While Tencent and Qiming had placed their bet on Pratilipi; Twitter, SAIF Partners and Lightspeed chose ShareChat. Shunwei is a common investor in both ventures. Going forward, it would be exciting to see how these two companies scale-up.