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9Gag – From A Meme Sharing Platform To A Money Making Machine

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If you are on Facebook or Instagram, you are bound to come across 9Gag, a page which is a platform for sharing memes.  9Gag is one of the most popular pages on the internet owing to its diverse content and memes which are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.  As the internet technology advanced, digital marketing became the next big thing giving rise to the era of online advertising.  Almost every site or platform runs ads these days in order to bring in an additional stream of revenue.  This has helped sites with no business models to earn some revenue and 9Gag is no expectation to this fad.  But 9Gag is not a small site anymore and the amount of daily users on its platform has made it into a money making machine.  Read further to find out how 9Gag became what it is today.

Beginnings:

9Gag was founded in the year of 2008 by Ray Chan, his brother Chris Chan, Derek Chan, Marco Fung, and Brian Yu who were studying in Hong Kong.  9Gag was started as a platform which was an alternative to emails on which users could easily share humorous photos or content.  The five founders pooled $1200 dollars to begin 9Gag as a side project to work on besides their day jobs.  9Gag was initially shared between the friends of the five founders but at the same time Facebook and Twitter were quickly gaining popularity.  Content from 9Gag slowly began making its way to Facebook and Twitter as users who found funny content on 9Gag began sharing it on social media platforms.  

Funding 

By 2012, 9Gag was no longer a side project but a full fledged site which was attracting a steady stream of users.  Ray Chan and the four founders quit their day jobs and decided to work on 9Gag full time.  It was also in 2012 that 9Gag launched its application on the Android and iOS platforms.  2012 was also the year when 9Gag received its first venture capital funding from the silicon valley.  The founders raised $ 2.8 million in funding from 22 investors.

ALSO READ: The Success Story Of Tupperware And How It Became A Household Name

Target audience

9Gag is currently a platform which caters to three segments of target audience which makes up for its entire user base.  The first and major chunk of the target audience are the readers or browsers who come to the platform to look at content.  The second important target audience are the content creators.  Both readers and creators contributed to more than 3.5 billion page views per month in 2018 with a registered user base of 40 million.   The third and the minority group of target audience comprises of the advertisers.

Revenue streams

Today 9Gag has multiple sources of revenue but the two major sources are via its 9Gag Pro subscription and ads.  9Gag Pro is currently priced at Rs. 250 while the Pro+ is priced at Rs. 1150.  This price varies according to the geographical location of a user.   As of 2018, 9Gag was making $ 1.76 million per month via ads and $ 0.12 million via its pro membership.  However, today 9Gag has its own online marketplace where users can purchase 9Gag goodies which it sells in partnership with famous influencers.  9Gag also partners with cyber gaming studios to run ads on their platform as well as create exclusive content.  

9Gag is a perfect example of how a platform to share memes can generate revenue, thereby proving that in this day and age, any need can be converted into a business model.  In the case of 9Gag, it took the need of its user to look at funny content to pass time and made it into a successful cash cow.  

 

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Importance Of Communications For A Startup

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Importance Of Communications For A Startup,Startup Stories,Why is communication critical for a startup?,Reasons Why Business Communication is Critical to Your Company's Success,Effective Communication in a Startup: A Doorway to Business Success,Why Communication Determines Startup Success,The Importance Of Communication In Business: How To Improve it,Importance of Communication in Business,The Importance of Communication in Business,How important is communication for startups?,Importance of Good Communication in Business,The Importance of Communication in Business,The Importance of Business Communication in your Organization

A startup usually prioritises its focus on the front end functions like marketing and sales, as well as the backend functions like finances and product development.  While there is no denying these functions are very critical for the success of a startup, there is one more important aspect to it which often tends to be neglected because it may not seem important.  Communications and information management is an often overlooked function a lot of companies ignore.  The fallout from ignoring the criticality of good communication does not immediately make itself known but rather keeps on piling up until the problem becomes too big to ignore.  

During the initial or idea stages of a startup when there are only a few members on the team, communication might not be a problem because all of the team would be together for most of the time.  However, as the idea develops into a product and the startup begins rapid scaling up, the need for hiring more hands arises.  This is when communication becomes a priority.

Communication for startups includes both internal and external.  Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool.  Some easy but highly effective ways to improve communication, both internal and external, are discussed as we progress through the article.

Internal communication:

Internal communication is a powerful tool for enabling better decision making and for increasing business productivity.  Open, clear, crisp communication from the top management level to all branches of the organization will serve to bring everyone together on to a common goal.  This will also further keep executives informed, engaged and make them feel valued thereby leading to more productivity.  Regular team meetings will ensure each team member is on the same page and will also boost employee morale.  Google Hangouts, Slack, Microsoft Teams and Trello are some of the tools which can be used for internal communications.

Some of the ways to drive a healthy internal communication within startups are

  1. Promoting openness, honesty and transparency.
  2. Candid one on one sessions with leaders.
  3. Valuing every opinion.
  4. Sharing challenges, suggestions, progress and expectations.
  5. Welcoming team feedback.
  6. Create an environment of creative expression and non judgemental spaces.

ALSO READ: The Importance Of A Communications Manager

External Communication

External communication also plays an important role in the growth of a startup.  While internal communication is used to keep the teams on the same page, external communication plays a huge role in the brand awareness and value.  External communications play an important role and a startup cannot ignore how it is perceived by job seekers, financial institutions and the public.  Therefore a startup needs to put out its ideas, culture, vision and products in the purview of the public and this can be done through blogs, social media, newsletters, press briefings, advertisements and emails.  A startup needs to realise the importance of managing external communications and the power of releasing information at the right time.  

Some of the ways to drive a healthy external communication and which often tend to be overlooked are given below.

  1. Leverage the correct medium for communication.  For example social media for branding, ads for lead generation, landing pages for call to action.
  2. Create a unique tonality suitable for the brand image of your startup.
  3. Ensure to stay in touch with your external public through all contextual means like emails, newsletters, publications and so on.
  4. Create high-quality content like opinion pieces, sales materials, research reports, annual reports, whitepapers, buyer’s guides, and product datasheets.
  5. Incase of any issues with the product on the technical side or manufacturing defects, startups need to immediately issue advisories.  Good communication is also essential for firefighting and damage control

Startups should keep in mind that internal and external communications are mostly about being spontaneous, relevance and honesty.  A healthy communication goes a long way to improve employee performance, team productivity, positive mindset, and above all business revenue.

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What Are Series A, B And C Fundings?

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Startups usually go through a tumultuous series of journeys during their lifecycle.  As a startup is continuing to grow, the need for funds becomes more and more important.  Funding offers startups the necessary influx of money at various stages to focus on different aspects like product building, scaling up, expansion, innovation, research and development.  While only a handful of startups usually make it big without the need of much funding, the rest of the other startups  engage in multiple efforts to raise enough capital through rounds of external funding.

In the previous article, we have explored seed funding and the various sources of seed funding.  Once a startup completes a seed funding round, the next following rounds are called as series funding and are classified into Series A, B and C respectively.

These Series fundings usually have a timeline and Series A is the first of the three rounds of funding.  Many startups often spend years in search of a Series A funding while some other startups easily get their foot in the door.  The Series fundings are a stepping stone for a startup to eventually become a Unicorn or for filing for an Initial Public Offering (IPO.)

As is the case with seed funding, the Series A,B and C rounds of funding also see investors putting their money into a startup in exchange for equity.  The success of a startup directly correlates to the amount of returns an investor gains.

Before any round of funding, a startup needs to be valued and a valuation is done based on multiple factors like management, track record, market size, risk and liabilities.  Let us have a look at what Series A,B and C funding means below.

Series A funding

Once a startup gains a proven customer base and consistent revenue figure, the startup may opt for a Series A round of funding.  This funding can be used by a startup in question to improve their customer base as well as taking opportunities to scale their product across different markets. A startup also usually prepares a long term business plan after receiving a Series A funding.  Series A fundings range between $ 2 million and $ 15 million.  Investors are not looking for a great idea but rather a plan to take the great idea and make it into a money making business.  

Series B funding

Series B funding rounds are all about startups expanding and taking their business to the next level.  Investors help startups get there by expanding market reach. Companies that have gone through seed and Series A funding rounds have already developed substantial user bases and have proven to investors that they are prepared for success on a larger scale.  Series B fundings are usually used to scale a startup to meet the increasing demand levels.  Series B fundings range between $ 30 million and $ 60 million with the average funding at $ 33 million.

ALSO READ: 8 Best Free CRM Solutions For Startups

Series C funding

By the time startups arrive at Series C round of funding, they are usually quite successful.  The idea behind the Series C round of funding is for startups to raise capital to develop new products and expand into newer markets or probably even acquire other businesses.  Normally investors expect a 200% return on their investment during the Series C round of funding.  Companies vying for a Series C funding are usually looking to go for an IPO or to expand on a global scale.  Startups are usually valued at around $ 118 million when applying for a Series C funding.  

This concludes the list of Series funding.  Series fundings are an important milestone in any startup’s roadmap to success and this article hopes to break down the Series funds into simple terms.   

 

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What Is Seed Funding And What Are The Sources For Seed Funding For Startups

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As startups begin to grow beyond an idea stage to a minimum viable product stage, they begin to brainstorm in order to develop a market ready product.  However, all the product development and testing does not happen for free.  A good product development lifecycle will need a lot of resources both financially and physically.  While physical resources can be spared, finances can often drain out quickly thereby jeopardizing the future of a startup.  Therefore startups look for investors who will be willing to invest capital into the startup.  The investment happens during seed funding events where venture capitalists look out for promising ideas and products in which to invest.

Seed money, sometimes known as seed funding or seed capital, is a form of securities offering in which an investor invests capital in a startup company in exchange for an equity stake.  Imagine a startup as a plant which needs to grow but in order for it to grow a seed needs to be planted.  A seed funding also works in a similar way,  by giving a startup enough working capital to get things off the ground.  Undoubtedly, this is one of the most important processes for laying a strong foundation for a successful startup.

There are multiple sources for a startup to infuse seed capital and the list of sources is given below.  Read on to find out more about the various sources of seed capital.

1) Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping is nothing but building a startup from the ground up with only personal savings.  While this brings in added pressure of using one’s own money it comes with its own benefits of not having to worry about returning borrowed money.

2) Incubators

Incubators are a great way to grow as well.  An incubator acts as a source of funding for businesses if they have good business models.  Many well known business schools act as incubators.  The famous startup WeWork also began as an incubator platform for startups and they have branches all over the world now.   A lot of incubation programmes do not take equity from the startup but do offer support beyond just funding.

3) Accelerators

Accelerators work with startups to scale up their business rapidly as opposed to Incubators which nurture early stage innovation.  Accelerators also provide minimal seed funding for startups along with professional services, networking opportunities, mentoring and workspace.  Y Combinator is the most famous accelerator around the world.

ALSO READ: How To Start A Business With Little Capital

4) Business Revenue

Once a startup has a minimum viable product, they can begin sales in order to generate revenue.  This revenue is then invested back into the startup as a capital to develop a fully functional product.  In recent times, this method has gained prominence as it does not involve the complexity of seeking external funding or diluting stake.

5) Corporate seed funding

Large corporations often are looking for a way to invest in a startup which is bringing a new innovation to the market.  This source of funding brings big visibility for the startup brand and is usually an early indication of an acquisition in the future.  Tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are constantly on the lookout to spot latest innovations.  

6) Angel investment

An angel investor is an individual who provides capital for a business startup, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity.  These investors often come together to form angel networks where they each invest small amounts into a startup during the early stages when the risk of failure is high.  AngelList, Indian Angel Network and Lead Angels are some of the leading angel investment groups.

7) Philanthropic Investors

This is a perfect source of investments for startups who are looking to address social problems with their products.   Startups could approach international philanthropes, who act as seed investors for startups with social impact.  One of the major advantages with philanthropic investors is they do it for the love of mankind and not for profit and therefore the expectations are fewer than venture capitalists.  

This concludes the list of sources of seed funding.  Looking for seed funding does not have to be a complicated exercise and it can begin by looking into these various sources of initial capital.  

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