The Ken formally launched on 3 October 2016 as India’s first subscriptions-only business news site. Today, we’re announcing our angel funding round.
In a short span of four months, we’ve managed to create a subscriber base composed not just of founders, venture capitalists, CEOs, lawyers and senior management but also college students and young professionals. Our readers trust us because we’re honest about our journalism. This means:
1. We do only one story every weekday, and that story is original, analytical, deeply-reported and well-narrated.
2. Subscribers like reading our articles, so they pay us.
3. Thus, we’re India’s first pure subscription-based business news provider and we’re unapologetically and unashamedly subscriber-focused.
4. We’re focused on our stories and our subscribers. Which means that we have no time at all for banner ads, native content or events.
5. There will be no advertisements at all for paying subscribers. None, ever.
We’re immensely thrilled to have built an enviable paying subscriber base around this simple model.
We’re equally thrilled to announce the names of our angel investors, who have collectively invested over $400,000 based largely on our vision. Individually or collectively, they’re an enviable lot to have as investors.
1. APRAMEYA RADHAKRISHNA, co-founder, TaxiForSure
2. DEEPAK NATRAJ, managing director, Aarin Capital
3. GIRISH MATHRUBHOOTHAM, founder and CEO, Freshdesk
4. MAHESH MURTHY, founder, Pinstorm; co-founder, Seedfund
5. PALLAV NADHANI, co-founder and CEO, FusionCharts
6. PAVAN ONGOLE, investor; former director, SoftBank
7. SANDEEP MATHUR, managing director, Graticule Asset Management
8. SHAN KRISHNASAMY, co-founder and CTO, Freshdesk
9. SHANMUGAM NAGARAJAN, co-founder and CPO, 7
10. V BALAKRISHNAN, chairman, Exfinity Ventures; former CFO and board member, Infosys
11. VIJAY SHEKHAR SHARMA, founder and CEO, Paytm
While $400,000 may not seem like a lot of money these days, it’s a significant amount to build a focused, lean media business, which has also been generating revenue right from day one. As journalists, we’ve seen too many instances of companies losing their focus and fire in the belly after raising too much money too early on. In contrast, The Ken broke even on a cash-flow basis in week 2 of operations.
Is there any Indian startup that went from launch to cash-flow profitability in one week?
Now there is…
— Sumanth Raghavendra (@sumanthr) October 12, 2016
For many of our subscribers, we are the first instance of them paying for a news subscription. Subscriber revenue is great because it keeps our business model aligned with our journalism—both exist because of the subscriber.
This isn’t to say that subscriptions are—or will remain—our only revenue source. We launched with Paytm as the sponsor of our free plan (one that lets people access 1/5 stories every week, free of cost), which meant it was effectively underwriting the price of our articles for our free readers. This philosophy of ours can simply be stated as this: “Quality journalism costs money. Either our subscribers pay us, or a brand pays us on their behalf.” We think this would allow us to explore new revenue streams by partnering with brands, without compromising our editorial integrity.
To expand our subscriber base and make our journalism more accessible, we are about to launch corporate subscriptions. We believe that quality business journalism—one that makes sense of disruption, strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship—must be part of every professional’s reading habits.
Business journalism lost the plot on this, many years ago when it started churning out articles that were either incremental, one-sided, dumbed down or dry and boring. We go to great lengths to make our stories anything but. Corporate subscriptions will be a great way to let anyone within a company or startup read us daily.
If you’re interested, you can let us know here, and one of us will get in touch with you shortly.