MouthShut.com: Driven by user generated content | SupportBiz

Tech Mate

MouthShut.com: Driven by user generated content

 
MouthShut.com was started in a small room in a suburb of Mumbai in 2000. The portal started with no real resources to speak of except for a vision to provide the consumer a platform to voice his opinion on products and services. Twelve years down the line, MouthShut.com members and readers are drawn due to the empowerment they feel and stay here because of the stickiness of its content.

 

Sharing this success story with SupportBIz.com, Faisal Farooqui, founder of Mouthshut.com explained some key drivers of the present online industry in India, the changing dynamics of online consumers and much more.
 
Please share your views on the trends in online content consumption in India? 
Content is king. Magazines, newspapers print it, electronic media program it and in the internet space it revels in the form of the written word and explodes in the garb of the multimedia.
 
Content is the foundation on which the media business is structured. No denying the fact that online content consumption is growing exponentially. Thanks to platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and MouthShut.com, the average internet user is involved in content creation and consumption. 
 
This is only going to grow. The traffic for online videos is almost doubling every year. There is similar growth in photos and written text (blogs, status updates, reviews). And this is just the beginning.
 
What are the key drivers of user generated content in the online space?
It is the growing reach of the Internet and the ease of access from mobile devices that’s making it ever easier for people to share photos, videos and text. Additionally, people are more open to sharing – the current generation loves to share everything. It’s an open generation and that probably is the reason why there is an online explosion. On second thoughts, the online explosion may be reason enough for this generation to open up like never before. Hmm! The chicken and egg situation.
 
MouthShut.com was started almost 12 years back. Please highlight some of your key milestones. Also what is the current size of user base in India?
Think Social Media and we immediately get down to Facebook and Twitter. However, MouthShut.com started the concept of community and blogging much before these were popularized by Facebook and Twitter. On MouthShut.com there is a community of consumers which connects with each other on products and services. These consumers connect with each other by adding each other in their Trusted Circle, send each other Virtual Gift. Does this ring a bell? 
 
Review writing is the core of all activities – but its forms are many. On MouthShut.com consumers can write elaborate product reviews, send in short and snappy reviews via the SMS platform or upload video reviews.
 
If someone wants to understand a feature-by-feature breakup of products then he can avail our comparison features – here one can compare products on the basis of price, features and reviews. For those interested in general blogging there is the Blog section where even rambling thoughts find room for themselves quite comfortably. Virtual Gifts and Photo Gallery add to the overall experience of the platform.
We have more than six million visitors a month.
 
What are the revenue streams for Mouthshut.com? 
MouthShut.com connects brands with users. We provide a platform for interaction and exchange of consumer information. Hence we attract many advertisers. Our ad-rates are competitive. 
 
We have a brand reporting service, which, for an annual subscription allows brands to interact with their customers on MouthShut.com. This service is a big ticket simply because it builds an interactive platform for both consumers and brand managers to assemble together and address vital issues.
 
We also work with Google and are amongst its leading ad-partners in India and our teams work very closely towards creating great advertising options.
 
What are the challenges you faced as an entrepreneur when you started your business? 
It’s been a long journey and the challenges have been both micro and macro - raising capital, finding a good office space, attracting key talent. I’m glad those days are behind us and the future looks promising. As an entrepreneur I now have the biggest challenge of pitchforking MouthShut.com as one of the biggest user-generated platforms, worldwide.
 
What are the current set of challenges for the industry?
One of the key challenges the IT/Internet industry grapples with is good talent and high attrition. At MouthShut.com we have made it a fun place to work at. But as an industry, much needs to be done. 
 
What are new opportunities in the online market space?
There is an abundance of opportunities in the Mobile Internet and application space. We’re quite thrilled about the space we operate in! It’s the best time to be an entrepreneur in the online space.
 
What are the key business focus areas for Mouthshut.com? What is your go to market strategy?
At MouthShut.com we’re working hard to be the number one destination from where a consumer should start shopping. We’re now a completely revamped, full-fledged buying guide that helps consumers in pre and post-shopping decisions. We cover product reviews, product specifications, ratings and soon pricing of products. We will soon connect our visitors with multiple sellers of products.
 
Where would you like to see Mouthshut.com in the next two years?
We started MouthShut.com as an idea to build communities around brands. Millions of consumers gather online everyday and speak their mind on their real-life experiences. The future looks extremely bright and I would now like to see MouthShut.com as the number one starting place where every buying decision can be made. Be it cars, bikes, eating out or travel destinations, our platform should be the number one go-to platform.