Today when we talk of digital media, The Logical Indian has its own unique space and all of it, was the brainchild of Abhishek and Anurag Mazumdar, brothers from Arunachal Pradesh who came to Bengaluru to finish their studies and earn their bread.
This is their story:
“11,500 was the first salary I drew working with a BPO here in Bangalore. We went for a family dinner!” -Abhishek
“My first payment as a freelance graphic designer was INR 500 in 2012 for a new-year event night flyer I had made.” -Anurag
Media around 2013 was all about ‘making news’ and not about ‘newsworthy’ stories. This realization made Anurag and Abhishek start a facebook page, as instead of saying “oh i am tired with this”, they tried to be the change that they wanted to see.
The result was, The Logical Indian as a facebook page. With a catchy and rather appropriate name, it became a place for the millennials to express their thoughts, views and a platform to have their say. A good story telling idea, in a visually compelling way, consumable for the internet generation is what turned the page into a media organization. The response from 0 followers to now 10 million people on social media in the last 7 years has been telling and a testament to the unflinching belief that you can do concrete things if the “product” is solid. The dearth of an unbiased space for today’s generation was necessary and this was ideally filled by The Logical Indian.
It started with newsworthy content, most of which was handpicked/aggregated content back then. Year on year, improved coverage, more original reports, prioritizing the underreported news and issues, ensured that today The Logical Indian is the destination for the internet generation in India for all verified and simplified news stories.
However, once it became an organization, there were more factors in play. A successful organization is all about its product and its employees. If you have a great product but a poor team then the product is bound to fail and vice versa. Founders tend to focus on the product and not the organization, and hence it tends to fail.
Abhishek and Anurag took the tried and tested value of equal importance to the organization and the people who make it one. So today the organization has employees who have the core values of integrity, respect, empathy, coexistence, volunteerism, equal rights and Freedom of Expression.
The approach to any “opportunity to grow” is to know how big is the problem and not how big is the opportunity. Because, if you know the ‘Why’; why do you want to do what you are about to do? If you have the answer to that ‘Why’, the what and how will follow automatically.
None of this means everything was foolproof and there haven't been any failures. Failures have turned into learning and learning becomes an opportunity. The setbacks for a bootstrapped firm can be telling, especially when it comes to funds, salaries or even day to day functioning. So being frugal, has been a conscious choice. A lot of decisions would have reflected as being tough or stringent then, but retrospectively it made sense.
Editorially as well, TLI has been the destination for worthy and verified news. Not that in all these years there were no errors. There was misreported news, unverified sources etc. But every time it happened, responsibility was taken, public apologies were issued, readers were informed every time, even when there was just a small correction in our report. People welcomed it and widely appreciated it.
So can others do this as well? The most frequently asked question to the brothers from journalism students, young entrepreneurs is this; can we do it as well?.
To answer them, it is a tough journey. No shortcuts, tough decisions, difference of opinion, but you need to remain steadfast in your belief and your product. People will come and go, it is you who needs to be steady all throughout.
Never shy away from seeking help, even from competitors. No one will deny it for it will be mutually beneficial. As long as your decisions (which involve a certain amount of risk) are backed by conviction and perseverance, things are going to fall in place. Every risk or a bold move you take in life, will reward you with an experience. This experience could be pleasant or unpleasant. That is all that it really is about and not about winning or losing.
- Building one of the most influential digital communities: With The Logical Indian, we went beyond just reporting. We took initiatives, we collaborated with stakeholders and were able to bring policy level changes. One such highlight out of many, is when the Good Samaritan Law was finally passed by the honourable supreme court of India as a result of our year long digital campaign. We had partnered with Save Life Foundation who were leading the policy/advocacy front while we were leading the digital amplification front. We take pride in building this community of socially conscious people. The Logical Indian community, recently raised over INR 1.5 Crores in response to the COVID outbreak in the country to help a bunch of non-profits who were handling the migrant crisis.
- International footprints: Within just 5 years of our existence, we had represented Indian media at multiple distinguished global platforms. We have international journalism students and international journalists in mid career, who are finding it worthy to come down to India and carry their stint with our newsroom. This may not seem to be a significant milestone, but for us, not coming from a media and journalism background, with no connections, yet being counted parallel with the legacy media brands, tells us that we are probably heading in the right direction. Direction > Speed.
- Bootstrapped and Cash Positive: Delivering quality journalism is an expensive affair. It’s not that we are the only ones out there doing good/great quality journalism. There are many journalists out there with good intent and great qualities. The constant struggle in our industry is, how can you deliver great quality journalism while still being able to sustain the business? Many have tried, many of them were unable to keep up for a long time. But, we did.
From a sustainable business standpoint, we did fairly well when compared to our counterparts. We have been profitable (cash positive) since the first year of our operations.
80% of revenue is currently generated out of branded contents(advertising). We are glad to have worked with some of the finest brands across the globe. United Nations, Government of India, Tata Group, Unilever, PnG, Volvo, Times Group, Amazon, Pepscio, ITC, are a bunch of partners we work closely with and have pulled off some great award winning ad-campaigns in all these years.
We have very stringent advertising policies at place which allows us to work with only reputed brands and only on meaningful ad campaigns, we filter out the rest. This lets us maintain the premium cost of our inventories as well as doesn’t compromise with our user experience. So it’s a win-win. Our users know that even if it’s a paid promotional content, it’s worth their time.