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TLabs startup NIS provides news in 60 words, claims 10K downloads in 3 months

Anunay Arunav, Deepit Purkayastha & Azhar Iqubal

Anunay Arunav, Deepit Purkayastha & Azhar Iqubal

News in Shorts (NIS), a mobile-based service that aggregates news stories from across the globe and provides their essence within 60 words, claims that its Android app has seen more than 10,000 downloads in three months of going live. NIS, owned and operated by Delhi-based ADA News in Shorts Pvt Ltd, is seeing around 250 downloads per day, claims its co-founder Deepit Purkayastha.

The startup was founded in August this year by Purkayastha, an IIT Kharagpur dropout, along with Azhar Iqubal and Anunay Arunav (both IIT Delhi dropouts). Its app NIS picks news stories from across categories, edits them and provides the essence of those stories within 60 words each. Users can also pick news stories from categories such as national, business, sports, technology, entertainment and miscellaneous. They can also read the full coverage by clicking on the link of the source provided at the end of each story.

“NIS features a clean, hassle-free interface and it pushes the most relevant news articles of the day to the reader, who can then flip through the news items. We aim to make news consumable that it no longer is a separate task for the reader, and instead it blends into a user’s daily life,” Purkayastha said.

The trigger

“We ourselves were not avid news readers, and even after joining the college we found that we did not know what was happening in and around the world. We also realised that the current news sources were too overwhelming. From then, we started observing the reading pattern of people. What we observed was that people browse through headlines, read only the first three-four sentences of a news story and then move on. This is where we sensed an opportunity and started developing a technology which could provide crisp new news to the reader,” said co-founder Iqubal.

USP

Unlike other mobile-based news startups like Summly, which was sold to Yahoo for $30 million early this year, NIS manually edits and summarises new stories to make sure that the reader gets the most relevant and interesting content. The company has formed a separate team of editors (mostly college students) for the same.

“Although we look similar to Summly on the surface level, the fundamental approach is very different. Summly aims to engage users with the long-form content by initially giving a glimpse into the complete article. On the other hand, NIS aims to engage users with the content so that it can act as their primary source of news,” Iqubal said. To put in simple words, Summly acts as a news aggregator while NIS aims to become the point of consumption of news.

NIS is now working on other platforms, including iOS and Windows 8 to launch the respective versions of the app. It expects to cross the 3 lakh downloads mark by the end of next year. As of now, NIS provides only 30 news stories per day and is looking to increase this number.

As of now, the app is free to download and use. The firm says it has no plans to introduce a premium version, until it hits a certain milestone in terms of user base. “We aim to monetise via some form of native mobile advertisements which are not as intrusive as the current banner/interstitial ads. But our primary focus is to deliver the promised news consumption experience,” said Arunav.

In addition to the three co-founders, the company has employed two full-time content quality analysts, two technology interns and a community of 20 editors.

Opportunity

According to the company, India is all set to become the world’s first truly mobile digital society and most of the internet activity of the users is going to be via smartphones. Considering this and the fact that news consumption is a need for users, there is a huge opportunity. “As such, there is no news app that caters to this opportunity and serves the need of the reader to get them updated with relevant news within minutes and NIS hopes to plug this gap,” said co-founder Arunav.

The number of smartphone users is expected to tough 378 million by 2016 (as per a report by Avendus Capital); as almost 37 per cent of these users will read news on their handset device (as per a report by Nielsen), the total addressable market stands at 140 million users by 2016, according to the company.

NIS was a part of TLabs’ Fall 2013 batch, graduated in November this year. NIS, which received seed funding as part of the incubation programme, is now looking for VC funding. “We are in talks with a few investors to raise funding for our marketing efforts. However, I cannot disclose more details now,” Purkayastha said.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)