Published: 01st March 2020
Behind the Josh Talks: Meet the people who put the josh into all those YouTube videos
"The process, which has been full of highs and lows, has taught me many things and I continue to learn something new every day," says the Co-founder of Josh Talks Supriya Paul about her learnings
How far do you think an entrepreneur needs to go to establish their start-up? Supriya Paul and Shobhit Banga have gone as far as possible, we believe. All the way from mopping floors to editing their own content. And thank God for that because it is their efforts that have led to Josh Talks, the youth-impact media platform, being alive and kicking. Also, thanks to them, 15,00,000 daily viewers get their dose of inspiration through these videos on YouTube. And what did 26-year-old Supriya learn from establishing their brand? A lesson that she continues to learn from every josh speaker, who can range from any age group and any walk of life, from students to IAS officers, education reformers and more, "the power of perseverance," says the entrepreneur who found her way into Forbes' 30 Under 30 Asia list. While they started in 2015, they have now branched into other verticals, like Josh Kosh and more. We talk to Supriya about it and where they are headed in the future. Excerpts:
They have partnered with Facebook, the United Nations, Oxfam, MGIEP and many other organisation
1. In an era of Instagram quotes and existential memes that cash in on youngsters' short attention spans, do you think storytelling is still the best form of motivation?
While the internet in India is flooded with Instagram quotes and existential memes, our focus is to create content for the next half billion internet users. Our content has moved beyond simple entertainment and provides inspiration, information and skills. Even in this Instagram era, the average watch time of a Josh Talks video is six minutes. Since we are solving problems that are unique to our target audience, we are successful in capturing the attention and imagination of our audience as well. By leveraging the power of storytelling, we are championing critical issues like climate change, poverty, gender advocacy, youth mobilisation, legal awareness and so on.
Supriya Paul | (Pic: Josh Talks)
2. Tell us about the challenges you faced while setting up Josh Talks.
As two college students, building a business from scratch was difficult. Since the idea behind Josh Talks was unconventional, it also took people some time to trust the word of two twenty-year-olds. The toughest thing to crack was revenue. Back when we were just doing offline events, we were competing with huge media organisations for the attention/budget of the same corporate or brand and convincing them to put their money in a new and young organisation was very difficult. We hustled hard and found our first set of supporters and then, continued to grow frugally, pivot and build ourselves step by step. Each phone call cut, while I was pitching, has been a great reminder to not do the same to tele-callers on a daily basis! Best experience of my life.
3. Tell us about Josh Kosh. When did you decide to diversify into career guidance and why?
So, we have always viewed Josh as an ecosystem and have been focused on building products and services that tackle real problems that the Indian youth faces with respect to career opportunities, acquiring skill sets and more. The idea of Josh Kosh stemmed from the insights and feedback we gathered from our audience. We realised that there was a gap in high-quality career information available for youth in Tier II and Tier III towns and cities. The platforms that did exist were largely unorganised and focused on generating money through clickbait-tactics. So, we started Josh Kosh, a one-of-a-kind platform in providing relevant, comprehensible career-guidance for free. Josh Kosh is an exhaustive platform that includes information about private and government jobs, small to medium businesses, including agricultural businesses, and offers career guidance for students post-class X, XII and college. With over 5,00,000 visitors every month, Josh Kosh has built a reputation for providing relevant information, completely free of cost.
Josh Talks was awarded the National Media Award by President of India Ram Nath Kovind
4. You have delivered a TEDx Talk too. After frequent comparisons with the platform, how did it feel when you got on it?
Despite the frequent comparisons, TEDx is actually very different from Josh Talks. TED Talks speaks to a completely different audience altogether, which is actually the reason why I accepted the opportunity when I was given it. My TEDx was recorded at IIT Kharagpur and it was a great experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to connect with an audience that I otherwise usually wouldn’t interact with as much — the parents! The impact of that talk has been such that, to date, I often receive messages from parents seeking career counselling for their children.
5. What can we expect next from Josh Talks in terms of new formats, innovation and so on?
Josh Talks began with organising physical conferences to raise the aspirations of young India. In order to reach a wider audience, we soon started creating content in vernacular languages that has been made available online. Today, Josh Talks has grown into a robust ecosystem of tools and services that enables the youth in Tier II and Tier III cities to do more with their life. At present, Josh Talks’ content is disseminated in eight vernacular languages which is viewed by over 45 million people every month. In the span of five years, we have also expanded to include Josh Kosh, Josh Skills and Josh Jobs. Josh Skills offers short-term affordable courses (such as Spoken English, Financial Literacy and so on) to upskill the youth in Tier II and Tier III India without the presence of physical classrooms. The Josh Jobs platform acts as an interface between recruiters and job seekers to create meaningful employment opportunities for all. Our next steps include growing our vernacular channels and building our e-learning vertical to include more courses that are relevant for our target audience.
Josh Talks has raised $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding led by New York-based fund Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF)
Two Josh Talks that are Supriya's favourite:
- Kalpana Saroj: "She is someone who has overcome impossible odds of being born into poverty, being a child bride and being subjected to abuse at an early age, to becoming one of the most sought-after entrepreneurs in the country," she says
- Shyam Sundar Paliwal: He is a village sarpanch, "upon whose order the entire village celebrates the birth of a girl child by planting trees, is another story that remains with me," she shares
For more on them, click on joshtalks.com