Interview with Devendra Vishal Jaiswal and Bibhu Datta of StoryMirror
StoryMirror is a global online portal for short stories and poems. It offers a chance to all young as well as experienced storytellers to showcase their creativity and provide an unprecedented platform to share their stories with the world to read. Authors, Poets and artists can express themselves in poetry, prose or even through their art and reach out to vast audience throughout the World Wide Web. StoryMirror was founded by Devendra Vishal Jaiswal and Bibhu Datta Rout who both had experience in BFSI domain.
TechXpla spoke with Devendra Vishal Jaiswal who was a banker in HSBC bank and has a 14 years of experience in commercial banking before he came up with the movement now called ‘StoryMirror’. His experience includes distinctive combination of New Business Planning & Development, Sales Management, Strategy & Planning, Portfolio Management, Stakeholder Management and People Management which have been instrumental in turning around business operations, securing competitive positions and effectively leading teams through periods of growth, volatility and change. Prior to HSBC he had worked for ICICI Bank, BPL Telecom and Telerex Communications.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your background and what led to you setting up StoryMirror?
The idea of StoryMirror was conceived along with my other co-founder Bibhu Datta Rout. An unofficial artist and painter, I have always been inclined to various art forms. And during our initial research on the plight of literature and publishing industry we noticed the exploitation of talented writers and artists. In addition to the same we came across a lot of extraordinary creative youngsters who were experimenting and producing some marvelous content, but lacked the motivation and a platform to showcase their creative talents. This gave birth to the idea of StoryMirror – a ‘Creative Ecosystem’ where every creative soul can find his or her place and sustain their lives through their creativity without opting for other commercially viable career options.
Q2. What did you want StoryMirror to achieve then? And what was your marketing strategy at early stage?
The vision of StoryMirror has always been to establish a ‘Creative Ecosystem’, a habitat for all creative minds be it writers, poets, artists, singers or performers of any art field. Our marketing strategy was simple, get as many writers, poets and artists on www.storymirror.com as possible with special focus on regional languages.
Q3. You have your authors and poets create content for you. However what turned to be most effective strategy to drive traffic to the website?
Honestly, all we had to do was tell the authors and poets that now there is a platform where they can showcase their talent to the world and even get a chance to win prizes, thus, completing two successful contests back-to-back. This has helped increasing traffic on our website and taking StoryMirror to more and more creative people.
Q. What is your revenue model?
This is the most commonly asked question, even from many of my friends and relatives… Well, we have a number of products and services in our portfolio, the few that have already been launched or are in the pipeline include Books and e-books, Merchandise and Webzines for children. There are some unique products that the team is working on and will soon be launched.
Q. Congrats for providing a great platform for authors/poets and readers of story and poems. What is the profile for your authors & readers ?
We have a diverse portfolio – Our three languages English, Hindi and Odiya have got us authors and poets from every part of India. We have concentrated on promoting reading & writing habits in the young generation, thus majority of our writers and readers are between the age group of 15 years to 35 years, though lately a lot of veteran writers and poets have also become part of StoryMirror. Most of our traffic is from the Metros and Tier A cities but the trend is changing as we are penetrating deeper into the semi-urban regions of the country. We have writers from America, Africa and even Gulf.
Q. What technologies do you use to track visitors to your website?
We have a strong technical team which has been keeping a track of the data and visitors to our site. All relevant tools and programs are installed to provide us the relevant information and profiling of audience.
Q. What are the main ways in which you engage with followers?
We are an online portal, so Social Media is the best way for us to reach and interact with our audience. Facebook has been the primary source of our engagement but all platforms have their due importance depending on the targeted audience.
Q. Coming to Social , Your FaceBook Page has total 21756 page likes ? What was the strategy you followed to get large fan following?
We have targeted two audiences from the very beginning the writer’s community and the young population aged between 15 years and 35 years who use internet and digital content. The rest just followed since writers are a closely knit community and our contest rules take FB likes, comments and shares as one of the criteria for winning, it got us the numbers that flash on our FB page and are increasing daily.
Q. What percentage of your users access your website from mobile App ? Like other websites, do your users prefer mobility? Do you have any statics?
Around 40%. Not exactly, let readers have the choices.
Q. Are you planning to deploy any advance technologies on your website?
Definitely yes, since we thrive on technology and our core business model is based on digital platforms all advanced features shall be used to give a world-class UID and UXD experience to readers as well as writers.
Q. For anyone wanting to turn a great idea into an online business what advice would you give with regards to web design, domain names, social media, etc?
Just three words – Technology, Youth and Engagement. As for domain names just keep it simple so that the recall is good and no one has to refer to your visiting card or collaterals to type the url.
Q. StoryMirror is clearly pioneer in this field. What do you see it achieving in next 2~3 years.
As I just said, a ‘Creative Ecosystem’ where all creative minds can find their own space and sustain themselves through their talent and creativity.
Thanks for talking with us. Wishing you all the best for future. Hope you bring more interesting content for your readers in years to come.