Dibu Paul founded Alchetron along with his friends dinny,nikhil,digambar,praveen & siddharth. He was working for a small software company in Bombay suburbs and worked for 1.5 years there before he joined Accenture in their software product division for 2.5 years. He began this as a B2C product and was confident of success because Innovation and Growth happens at a faster rate in B2C Product companies he believes.
“Traditional Indian software companies worked on a B2B model. But now many Indian startups are building B2C products He says..
He built Alchetron with a vision for it to be a free encyclopaedia for the world. The gap that he saw in the market compared to Wikipedia , Wikihow and e-how. He was an avid reader himself and he constantly went to these sites but found that after the first few paragraphs, he got tired because there were only text and small images and moves on to the other websites. He thought the interface and the user engagement will be much better if the sites had a combination of relevant videos, high quality images, PPT, PDF and Documents Integration along with text and Alchetron was born.
The social element is also hardcoded into the site, the social net will give a Linkedin or a FaceBook feeling which will allow you to share the content with your network. These two features engages the users and makes it more interactive with high quality experiences. He developed a basic version of the site and did a POC with 250 of his friends (the contact numbers in his phones) in 2013 and set up an online survey and took their feedback by giving them options to select answers for their survey so that they can take it easily. About 90% of them agreed that they were also facing the same problem and this solution will be useful and he was sure that this is a problem that needs to be solved and he created his product with his team.
He and his core team members have spent many days coding on railway platforms, discussed ideas in trains and buses. Once they had their prototype ready they managed to rent a place and invested their savings to startup Alchetron.
On reaching out to his audience, he tried every possible thing in marketing. Paul talks about the first mistake he did by focussing too much on the product as it was very complex architecture and he held on from launching this and hence lost a few months. From a marketing perspective his first plan was face to face marketing where he took slots from engineering colleges and arranged for seminars and presented the product in front of around 200 students per session and pitched to them about the product. Even though the target market was anyone , he chose to go after the students at first because they read a lot more than the others. He created topics based on what the colleges teach and went and presented about alchetron and also asked them to read it and the students were surprised when they saw their topics on Alchetron in multiple formats and that became viral amongst the student community. The first 1000 customers(readers) were gathered from seminars but Paul realized that this was not a scalable model to acquire customers.
He also realized that these students were very much active on the smart phone devices and built a android mobile APP Which consisted only the encyclopedia version of the site which gave them 2000 more users.They are working on Integrating the social layer in to the APP which will be available soon,They did posting on social media by creating FaceBook pages and built a community and got 2000 users from there. They also did SEO of all their articles and they have around 4000 articles currently at this stage.They researched a lot and also did FaceBook marketing and ad-words but that was limited because they could not afford the high price of marketing. They focussed on organic things and on how to improve the user interface and how to give the users more data formats. Smart phone penetration was also a priority for him and he had a smart phone app which was great and he got around 2000 users immediately.They have around 13000 users from 130 countries and 2500 cities now growing 50% month on month
Paul’s suggestion – There are no mistakes only opportunities wasted. Don’t worry about making mistakes as there are lots of opportunities out there. They did a lot of mistakes, but found lots of opportunities.
Alchetron has 4 full time employees and 2 interns and 3 part time sales and marketing people. They are in In talks with different investors and have been selected to be in the Dublin summit among 1000s of startups in the world. They have been covered by YourStory.