Zomato's Marketing Breakdown

From 2008 to 2019, Zomato’s marketing has gone through a major upheaval. Find out what worked and what didn’t and how they have transformed to become an international brand with quirky content and a strong online presence.



Company NamePolicy Bazaar Insurance web Aggregator Private Limited.


One-Liner “Compare buy save” – Tagline.

Industry: Insurance.

Sector: Fintech.


Policy Bazaar is an online platform that aggregates insurance plans and serves as a marketplace for policies.

Policy Bazaar has tied up with insurance companies to provide their customer with information like price, terms, insurance cover, benefits, etc. They have more than 9.394M unique visitors to their website every month.

Policy Bazaar had a growth of 228% in 2017-18.

They sell more than 17,000 policies per month.

In 2018, they had raised $200M as funding from the Japanese based conglomerate, Soft Bank. With this Policy Bazaar became the second Fintech company to enter the unicorn club after Paytm. Policy Bazaar has more than 5000 employees headquartered in Gurgaon, Haryana.

Founded: 2008.

Founders: Yashish Dahiya, Alok Bansal, Avaneesh Nirjar

CEO: Yashish Dahiya.

Desktop/App: Responsive and Mobile friendly Website.  App on Google Play and the App Store.

Table Of Contents:

      1. The Idea to start Policy Bazaar

      2. Investors

      3. Competitors

      4. Early Adaptors

      5. Marketing Summary-Today

      6. App

      7. Top growth hacks that have stood out for them

1. The Idea To Start Policy Bazaar

Yashish Dahiya’s first venture was First Europa, a car Insurance comparison service company established in London, 2005, which failed to take off although it served across nine geographical locations. Besides, he had the experience of working with an online travel aggregator. With all these experience he moved to India in 2007-08.

While he was analyzing his father’s financial documents he came to know that his father was not given the full information about his insurance and that his father was cheated by an insurance agent. These suspicious activities lead him to start Policy Bazaar in India with Alok Bansal and Avaneesh Nirjar.

2. Investors:

Policy Bazaar has 12 investors with total funding of around $346M.

Their investors are:

i). Intel Capital, May 2011.

ii). Intel Capital and Inventus Capital Partner, March 2013.

iii). Inventus Capital Partner, Info Edge, and Intel Capital, April 2013.

iv). Tiger Global Management, May 2014.

v). PremjiInvest, Tiger Global Management, Ribbit Capital, Steadview Capital, ABG Capital, April 2015.

vi). Temasek, Tiger Global Management, PremjiInvest, Info Edge(India) Ltd and other investors not disclosed, October 2017.

vii). Soft Bank and Info Edge(India), May 2018.

3. Competitors:

When it comes to business, it is good to have competition. Similarly, Policy Bazaar also has competition.

Here is the list of few competitors of Policy Bazaar:

i). Bankbazaar.

ii). Coverfox.

iii). Easypolicy.

iv). PolicyAdvisor.

v). Acko.

4. How They Got Their Early Adaptors

i). SEO: Yashish Dahuya says that in the early days they had a digital marketing team dedicated to SEO and content.

ii). Guest Blogging: Yashsish Dahiya did Guest blogging on Livemint at the very start.

iii). Television ads and Featuring on personal finance tv/online shows.

5. Marketing Summary – Today



Top of The Funnel


 SEO(Search Engine Optimization):

i). Articles related to the insurance industry.

ii). Text-heavy articles.

iii). Articles with a word count ranging from 500 to 6000.

iv). Policy Bazaar is not consistent with publishing articles.

v). They post 0-13 articles per month. Not consistent. 

vi). 55.13% of their traffic comes from organic search.

Types Of Content They Create:

i). Business-Primary Content: Policy Bazaar shares content explaining various benefits of using their services.

They have written articles like “PB Assurance-mediclaims made easy”,Benefits of Buying Insurance Online and many more.

ii). Industry-Based- Secondary Content: Articles on the insurance industry and insurance companies and their benefits. They cover topics like “What type of policies they are selling and what benefits they are providing to the customers”.

 Articles such as Best Health Insurance Plans in India, Best Insurance plans in India 2018, Top 10 Benefits of United India Health Insurance can be read on their website.

iii). Interests and Persona-Tertiary Content: Policy bazaar aims at solving customer queries and problems with their content. The articles include tips, criteria to consider, guide or methods.

Articles like How to check Life Insurance policy status online, Tips to Buy and Renew Cigna TTK Health Insurance Online,

 Things You Shouldn’t Ignore While Buying Maternity Plans.

Paid Ads:

i). 11.13% of their traffic comes from paid traffic.

ii). Policy Bazaar has 33 Google PPC keywords.

iii). They have around 307 ads running at any point in time.

iv). They run Text ads, Image ads, and HTML ads.

v). Policy Bazaar has a total of 806 image ads, 2071 HTML ads and, 17456 text Ads running.

vi). The total ads spent on Policy Bazaar range from INR 1.5L-3L per month. 

vii). Policy Bazaar runs branded keyword ads, generic keyword and competitors keywords ads.

    • They have ads with brand name+main category, which act as a branded keyword ad.
    • They run generic keywords ads where they target a particular category of the Insurance sector. Example: Life insurance plan 2019.
    • Competitor keyword ads: Policy Bazaar’s competitors are the insurance companies itself, selling their policies directly on their website.

xi). Yashish Dahiya in one of his Youtube video said that Adwords helped them in their starting days. He states how their traffic increased with the use of AdWords.

Social Channels:

1.17% of their traffic is from social media. They are active on major social media platforms, but engagement is not that encouraging.

i). Youtube: Channel Name: Policy Bazaar

  • Policy Bazaar has 12,475 subscribers on their channel.
  • Shares primary, secondary and tertiary videos.
    •  Primary content- explaining policy bazaar and its benefits.
    • Secondary content- explaining the benefits of different types of insurances like SIP, ULIP.
    • Tertiary content: Policy Bazaar conducts discussions and events with common people and guides them. They share views regarding current events, eg. women’s day, Holi, etc.
  • In social media channels, youtube acts as a major traffic driver.
  • They share 7 to 9 video per month.
  • It contributes to 43.64% of social traffic to the website.
  • There are 405+ videos with 12,000 + subscribers on youtube which explains the benefits of policy bazaar, how to use it, how they can make a profit from Policy Bazaar and so on. Traffic to their website is driven by these videos as well.

ii). Facebook: Policy Bazaar

  • Facebook contributes to 27.69% of policy bazaar’s social traffic.
  • They contribute 5 to 6 posts per day.
  • Type of posts: Primary, secondary, tertiary posts.
    • Primary content: Shares features of Policy bazaar website like mentioning benefits of “my account” on their website.
    • Secondary: Shares 2 to 3 articles from their website.
    • Tertiary: Sharing customer feedbacks.
  • Sharing videos from their youtube channels.
  • They have a Facebook page dedicated to their help desk named as PolicyBazaar Help Desk.
  • On their Policy Bazaar HelpDesk page, they share customer feedbacks and features of PolicyBazaar like explaining benefits of “My Account”.
  • They contribute one post per day on their help desk page.
  • They spend on Facebook Ads to reach their customers on Facebook.

iii). Quora:

iv). Twitter: Policy Bazaar

  • 12.2k+ followers.
  • They tweet 4 to 5 times per day.
  • Share content similar to facebook.

v). Linkedin: Policy Bazaar

  • 18,861+ followers.
  • They post 4 to 5 times a day.
  • It contributes 1.66% to their social traffic.
  • Articles from their website.
  • New features of the website.
  • Employees birthdays, employee awards are shared.
  • Events, discussions videos from their youtube channel are shared.

Referral Traffic:

i). 7.39% of Policy Bazaar’s traffic comes from referrals. 

ii). They use affiliate marketing.

iii). Platforms used for affiliate marketing:

  • Outbrain
  • VCommission
  • PopAds
  • Taboola


i). Television ads: Akshay Kumar, the famous Bollywood actor is their brand ambassador 2018-present.

There are Tv commercials featuring Akshay Kumar to generate awareness to the wider population.

ii). They are increasing their expenditure on television ads. HotStar acts as a catalyst to generate awareness among young people about insurance. 

iii). Featuring on personal finance shows: Experts from Policy Bazaar attend personal finance shows and answer queries related to insurance industry. They have appeared on ZeeBiz.comIndia today, News24, CNBC Awaaz, headlinestoday.


Middle Of The Funnel/Constant Engagement With

i). Visit the website to compare policies.

ii). Submit phone number and email id. They send quotes to our email id.

iii). Compare different policies.

iv). Make a purchase.

v). If we don’t make a purchase we get a sales call, helping us to decide and make a purchase.

Bottom Of The Funnel

i). After buying we get all the information to our e-mail.

ii). Thank you page.

iii). “Thank you” e-mail with purchase details.

6. App(Android and IOS)

i). They have 1M+ app downloads.

ii). Policy Bazaar App is easy to use on the go.

iii). All the purchases are visible under My Account section.

iv). The Funnel for the App works the same as the website.

v). As we install the app, we are asked to create an account.

vi). Compare policies.

vii). Get call from sales team explaining policies.

viii). Make a purchase.

ix). Thank message along with purchase details.

7. Top Growth Hacks That Have Stood Out For Them

i). SEO

Articles: Policy bazaar has a praiseworthy collection of quality content on their website. There is a detailed explanation of each and every category/topic. Every category page has a detailed explanation of their products. Content on their website targets various keywords/age-group related to the Insurance industry.

If you type a search phrase related to insurance; Policy Bazaar appears in the first 3 positions on Google. Their articles are very informative. This attracts traffic to their website and in turn results in the sale.

ii). Policy Bazaar has Call to Action on every page and in their article page.

iii). Television Ads:

The use of television commercials to educate the larger population attracted more people to visit their website. The use of famous comedians like Kapil Sharma and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar worked well for their digital awareness campaigns.

iv). Customer Service:

At Policy Bazaar they believe that business growth is when they solve customer problems faster and effectively. So, Use of Amazon Polly, a text to speech solution helped them solve their customer queries. This resulted in happy customers.


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Fact Sheet

Company Name: Freecharge Payment Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Type: B2C.

One-liner:  “It is this homework that helps you demonstrate a workable solution and helps to make Naa Se Haan possible.”- Kunal Shah

Industry: Internet and Telecommunication/Financial Services.

Available on: Desktop and mobile.

Freecharge Logo

Desktop/App: Desktop and Mobile App

  • Android App:
    • Downloads: 10 Million
    • Rating: 4.3 out of 5 for 11,08,518 ratings.freecharge android app
  • iOS App:
    • Rating: 4.6 out of 5 for 197.8K ratings

Freecharge’s Journey and Funding:

Table Of Contents

What do they do?

How They Got Their Early Adopters

Marketing Summary – Today

Top Growth Hacks That Have Stood Out For Them

What Do They Do?

 A brief about Freecharge:
  • Freecharge was Founded on August 2010, headquartered in Mumbai, India. Owned by Axis Bank.
  • Current employee strength- 200 to 500.
  • Founded by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon with the current CEO as Sangram Singh.
  • Freecharge can be used as a wallet to pay bills, recharge a mobile phone, and purchase goods on Snapdeal, book movies on BookMyShow, and tickets on IRCTC, among others. But along with this, the FreeCharge wallet can also be used to transfer money to other users, bank accounts, and to NGOs.
  • Freecharge’s Services include Recharges, Bill Payments, UPI Money Transfers, Deals, Gift Cards, and Mutual Funds.
  • In 2015 Snapdeal bought Freecharge for an undisclosed amount and later in 2017 Freecharge is bought by Axis Bank which it’s current owner. It raised $177.6M in total from 6 private funding rounds.

How They Got Their Early Adopters?

  • The initial idea of Kunal Shah was to provide coupons for “Distributing retail coupons with recharge“. Early on August 2010, Freecharge had around 50 transactions a day with the website launched among their friends.
  • The team started working towards increasing usage of credit/debit cards (They targeted Student communities at IIT’s, NIT’s, ISB Hyd and IIM’s) among the public while approaching retailers to accept the Freecharge coupons.
  • Offline events
    • Presented at Startup Saturday event where they got conversion from college students
  • Social Media Marketing
    • Freecharge gained traction in twitter in the form of tweets as a response for the offline events they conducted which aimed at spreading awareness about freecharge.
  • Freecharge got Featured in
  • Apart from all, Freecharge team also worked on Blog posts about various recharges offered by service providers and other blog posts (Cricket match prediction competitions are one of the kind)
  • Freecharge observed an increase in transactions from 50 to 500 while the team started facing real difficulties in terms of operations and coupon delivery. (They were depending on the courier system to deliver the coupons).
  • Later Freecharge started onboarding more partners and then in later stages upon growth, mergers and acquisitions took place

Marketing Summary –

They get their most of the traffic from Direct search. (All stats are at the time of analysis).
  • Avg Traffic – 7.25 millionTraffic sources for freecharge
  • SEO – 75.66%.
  • Direct – 52.17%.
  • Social – 0.41%.Freecharge Social traffic
    • Youtube: 55.95%.
    • Facebook: 22.28%.
    • Whatsapp Web app: 11.73%.
    • Quora: 3.51%
    • Twitter: 2.60%.
    • Others: 3.93%.

Top of the funnel

freecharge marketing funnel


  • 1 article/month – Check their blog (no new articles in 2019).
  • 200 to 500-word articles, few articles have videos(2 to 5).
  • 75.66 % of traffic comes from SEO.
    Freecharge paid search terms

Type Of Content They Create:

Business – Primary content.

  • Offers
  • Product updates
  • How to

Industry-based – Secondary content

  • Emerging industry trends

Interests & Persona – Tertiary Content

  • Content-based on Social Causes

Paid Ads

  • Display Advertising
    Freecharge display advertising
    FREECHARGE AD sampleSource: (Semrush)
  • Facebook Ads
    • 5 Facebook ads are running at the time of writing thisFreecharge facebook ad
  • Newspaper Ads

freecharge news paper ad

  • PPC



  • A chat window pops out
  • They are actively replying for comments that have been made and are actually trying to help out their customers
  • 1,412,142 members
  • Posts 5 to 15 times on a monthly basis
  • Changes the cover picture to broadcast messages
  • Posts are about offers and any new integrations with new companies
  • Conducting challenges or a task for freebies like coupons. These type of posts observed much better engagement when compared with others
  • Interactive videos which are less than one minute based on Sentiment, Appraisal, Explaining the features of the app, Cashbacks, National events/Special days observed
  • In Initial stages, Freecharge ran ads in FB
  • Retargeting


  • 37,416 members
  • 1 post a week
  • No much engagement noticed in their LinkedIn channel
  • They don’t have LinkedIn Icon along with other social media Icons in the website footer.


  • 57k Subscribers
  • All are promotional videos explaining the offers and latest updates


  • Seasonal Contests are working better for Freecharge on twitter
  • Actively replying for the comments/queries by users
  • #KahaniAppraisalKi is being used for creating engagement while Freecharge is awarding prizes for good/interesting appraisal story

Referral Traffic: 5.78%

  • Referrers are mainly the payment gateways through which all the transactions happen and few other sites like IRCTC, Swiggy and other partners of Freecharge while the customers avail coupons for every transaction they make from the Freecharge’s partnerFreecharge referrals
  •  Top Referrers:


  • Initially, they had participated in college events to bring brand awareness and later on there are no notable offline events held.

Middle Of  The Funnel/Constant Engagement

  • Email
    • Sends out promotional emails which include coupons for every transaction, also the offer varies for each customer based on their previous transactions made.
  •  Text Messages
    • Sends out offer messages for customers to make them transact again
  • Coupons
    • Free coupons valid across Freecharge’s partner outlets/businesses

Bottom Of The Funnel

  • Give’s customized offer based on previous transactions

Top Growth Hacks That Have Stood Out For Them

  • Freecharge offers coupons for every recharge or a transaction made on its platform.
  • Freecharge partnered with very popular brands like McDonald’s, KFC, Costa Coffee, Café Coffee Day, Myntra, Barista, Domino’s, PVR Cinemas, etc which obviously attracted more people to transact using Freecharge.
  • Got Mentioned in a viral reality show named Emotional Atyachaar which is based upon the state of romantic relationships amongst the Indian youth. At the end of the particular episode, the following text is displayed: “Issued in public interest by FreeCharge.in.” as Credits which gained the viewer traction.
  • Adopting UPI for its payments, Introduced Freecharge on WhatsApp where users can send and receive money
  • It’s a win-win situation where the transactor and the service provider are beneficiaries. (Which is the core idea) The win-win situation is one strong reason behind Freecharge’s existence in this competitive field. This may not be a growth hack but this is something which helps Freecharge to standout.

Email us at ani@growthspartan.com with Subject Line: Company name<> Feature Us

  • Company Name: Big Basket (Innovative Retail Concepts Private Limited)
  • Industry: Online Food & Grocery Store
  • Type: B2C
  • Founder/CEO: Hari Menon
  • Co-Founders: VS Sudhakar, Vipul Parekh, Abhinay Choudhari and V S Ramesh
  • Year & Place: 2011, Bengaluru, India
  • One-Liner: 

“We want customers to get hooked, and make our service harder to replicate”-Hari Menon

Table Of Contents

  1. What Do They Do
  2. What Platforms Are They Present On
  3. The Idea To The First Set Of Customers
  4. Demand Validation To Growth
  5. Marketing Summary- Today

1. What Do They Do

One Line Definition: Big Basket delivers the groceries you like at the time you love at the comfort of your fingertips.
How they were able to get there is a story in itself.

Bigbasket, India’s largest online supermarket has been through quite a fascinating journey. This journey is incomplete without discussing the founders’ startup journeys prior to starting Big Basket. It all began in 1999 when Hari Menon (Now CEO- Big Basket) along with his friends VS Sudhakar, Vipul Parekh, Abhinay Choudhari and V S Ramesh started their online retail website called “Fabmart”. Imagine an e-retail store in 1999, this is way before Flipkart and the likes ventured into the e-commerce space in India. After realizing that their idea was something belonging in the distant future, they pivoted to a physical chain of grocery stores called Fabmall. They scaled it up to 200 stores across south India before they sold it off to Aditya Birla Group who renamed it to what we come to know of as “More”.

Sometime around 2011, they started thinking about their original idea of Online grocery store and with the internet penetration set to rise in India and with Flipkart already operating in the online retail space, the same set of friends decided to Launch Big Basket.

The journey is even more unique when you look at the age of the founders who were in their Mid-40s when almost all other entrepreneurs were at least half their age in 2011. For all the good reasons, that experience clearly shows up in the passion-filled execution of ideas at Big Basket. That’s pretty much what it took to make it one of the unicorns in the Indian startup ecosystem with a valuation of $1.2 Billion. Let’s take a look at how exactly they went about achieving it.

2. What Platforms Are They Present On

Customers can order groceries from their mobile phones through the app or web browser on Mobile and PC.

3. The Idea To The First Set Of Customers

They started the operations from Indiranagar, Bengaluru. The initial adopters were upwardly mobile young Indians who wanted to avoid the pain of navigating through Bangalore traffic to get their groceries.

And, as Evident from Hari Menon’s quote, right from the start Big Basket’s focus has been the customer. The founders have used the knowledge gained from the dot com era in the right manner. They didn’t resort to scaling quickly or use deep-pocketed discounting to acquire and retain customers. Instead, their focus was customer satisfaction. The biggest challenge was to build and maintain the capacity to meet customer demand.

At the time when many of the startups in hyperlocal space were adopting a zero inventory model, Big Basket bet big on the inventory model. The founders strongly believed that to address the huge demand that existed, one had to maintain the quality of products as well as services. Hence they had to adopt the inventory model.

On the back of this strategy, they were able to drive high customer satisfaction. Reports have shown that they had close to 70% repeat customers, growing at a rate of 25-30%.

This growth speaks volumes about their efforts towards customer satisfaction as they didn’t spend a huge amount of cash on advertising and mainly relied on Word-of-mouth. Their stats reflect that a whopping 45 % of new customers were through referrals.

4. Demand Validation To Growth

  • Word Of Mouth

    • Ask the expert was a campaign run by Big Basket on their facebook page, where they invited highly skilled nutritionists, stylists, and dieticians to spread awareness about the benefits of good food and style.
    • While this was related to the industry in general, they employed a strategy to reward Facebook fans who asked some impressive questions.
    • This strategy helped them acquire more customers as the winners of the above campaign spread the word about the campaign, unconsciously campaigning for Big Basket. By this time their operations were spread across seven cities.
  • Express Delivery

    • After acquiring a Hyperlocal delivery startup called “Delyver”, Big Basket launched an express delivery service. Customers could opt for a 1-hr delivery of select products.
    • The success of this service greatly helped further Big Basket’s name in the Indian Online Grocery Space.
  • Lifestyle Blog

    • Big Basket also launched a lifestyle blog. They post quite frequently with content ranging from “know your food” to “trending styles from Divas”.
    • However, as per data from Similar Web, the traffic sources to their websites are as follows.
      • Direct: 20.59 %
      • Referrals: 14.85 %
      • Search: 22.18%
        • Of the 22.18 % Search traffic- 100 % of it is Organic and only one set of keywords contribute to all of that organic traffic. Guess what those keywords are? I think it’s unfair to you guys, here you go. “London men’s fashion week hairstyles
      • Social: 42.37 %
      • Mail: 0%
      • Display: 0%
  • Social Media:

    • Just short of 5% of their website traffic comes from all of the social media put together.
    • About 86.25 % of the traffic from social media comes from Youtube alone. Considering the host of Cookery videos and ease of targeting customers who will be willing to shop at Bigbasket.com, this doesn’t come as a surprise.
    • However, they post quite a good number of videos every month but their total number of subscribers is just short of 7000.
    • They also engage with Facebook audience through various food, style, and health tips, with occasional campaigns like the “Ask The Expert”

5. Marketing Summary- Today

Top of the Funnel


  • Big Basket publishes about 25-30 articles/month. These are mainly about DIY styles, style trends, travel food queries, recipes, food benefit articles, etc.
  • Majority of the articles are about 1000 words long. They are also embedded with youtube video links wherever applicable. The blog drives traffic to Youtube videos, in turn, youtube videos direct users back to BigBasket.com
  • Their SEO story is quite amazing. Look at the metrics and am pretty you’ll be impressed.
  • Traffic Overview: An estimated total number of visits: 7.65 M and this has mostly been constant over the past 6 months at least.
  • A whopping 60.37 % of traffic is direct: The brand recall is so strong[Proof of the customer-centric approach the management took early on] and the usage is so frequent for any customer that they directly enter the website in the search bar when they think of ordering groceries online.

Type of content they create:

  • Business: Primary Content
    • Knowledge-Based articles on benefits of various fruits, vegetables, and which of the beauty products are better for what type of skin, etc.
    • They drive traffic to these blog posts from the social media campaigns.
  • Industry Based: Secondary Content
    • They create content revolving around the travel and lifestyle industry.
    • Though highly unrelated they post content on travel destinations suitable for each season.
  • Interests & Persona- Tertiary Content
    • Content-based on DIY recipes
    • Content-based on DIY Styles

Paid Ads

  • Of the 31.18 % search traffic, 74.64% is Organic & only a quarter i.e 25.36% is paid
  • Type of Ads they’re running
    • Branded: 23.51 % of their Ads are branded. Meaning they specifically focus on showing the name “Big Basket” in their ads
    • Non-branded: 76.49 % of their Ads are non-branded.
    • Main paid competitors: Grofers.com, sparindia.com, licious.in, olay.in etc.
    • Main Organic competitors:naturebasket.co.in, grofers.com, paytmmall.com, dmart.in.
  • Estimated Monthly Ad expenses: $705

Influence Through Social Media

  • Facebook:
    • Chat window pops out- Yes
    • Placed phone number here for an easy call- Yes
    • Number of members-385,151
    • Post 35-40 times a weekly basis
    • Change the cover picture to broadcast messages- Yes
    • Haven’t seen them doing any polls lately.
    • Motivational messages- Yes
    • Say they’ll provide something for free for emails- No
    • Webinar content- No
  • LinkedIn:
    • Number of members: 16,893
    • No of posts/ month: Zero
    • Type of posts that have really high engagement: NONE.

Referral Traffic

  • A meager 1.02% is through referrals: Below is a snapshot of the referral as well as destination sites from Bigbasket.com
  • Majority of their referral traffic comes from below sources.
    • Coonyo.com
    • Apkaabazar.com
    • Samacharhindi.in
    • Indiafreedeals.com
    • bigbasket.blog


  • Forums- None Found
  • Events-None Found
  • Conferences-None Found
  • Speaking Gigs
    • The founders in their earlier days were interviewed by a lot of magazines like Livemint, YourStory. Coverage in these type of magazines gave them a good reach to the working class population who were also their target group.

Middle of the funnel/constant engagement with

  • Email: While they do send newsletters about the content posted on their blog, the referral traffic from email is 0 %.
  • Facebook: They post about 35-40 posts a month to engage customers/audience.

Bottom of the Funnel

  • Sales Call
  • Thank you page

Top growth hacks-That have stood out for them

  • Am astounded by the fact that the majority of their traffic is direct. Meaning the brand recall is so much that people don’t even google for grocery shopping, they directly enter bigbasket.com whenever they want to shop for groceries.
  • Second thing being, though their initial customer acquisition was through discounts, the customer engagement and retention thereafter has puzzled me. Though I couldn’t find any data on that it’s something that I’d like to research even more.

Email us at ani@growthspartan.com with Subject Line: Company name<> Feature Us


Fact Sheet :

Brand: FusionCharts
Business: Data visualization Products
Founder/CEO: Pallav Nadhani

“Even in this intangible world of software, it is all about people. Customers, employees, vendors, partners, industry watchers, they are all people. And people have their own aspirations, wants and needs, that you need to listen to and take care of. ”

– Pallav Nadhani, Founder and CEO , FusionCharts


Table of contents :


  1. Early days (Marketing)
  2. Idea to demand validation aka 1st Customers
  3. Launch of FusionCharts
    1. Marketing
    2. Product
  4. Expansion
    1. Marketing
  5. Summary of Marketing
  6. Advice from Pallav AKA Words from Pallav


The story that FusionCharts has written :


FusionCharts, part of InfoSoft Global Ltd, is privately held software provider of data visualization products. These are clean readable charts at an affordable price with minimal effort.

In the last decade, the company has been a stellar example of absolute genius of solving data monotony with their fascinating skills.

A 100% bootstrapped company, FusionCharts caters to 23,000 customers and 500,000 users in 120 countries. Apple, Google, ZOHO, Cisco, Facebook, Intel, LinkedIn, Microsoft are some of its major customers worldwide. It has clocked revenues of up to $7 million (Rs 39 crore) and has only been climbing the ladder ever since.  


  1. Early days (Marketing) :  

     A) Launching the Idea :

The ideal choice that Pallav had was to create interesting and fascinating charts for the boring business presentations. In his early days, he encashed on his engineering skills and curated interesting chart that could go along with the articles that he wrote for ASP Today. With time, he received good response and thus developed his first product FXcharts that gave his customers different chart layouts for presenting and analyzing their businesses.

Pallav has directed all his energies in building his idea into a product. He did all the coding single-handedly in almost 3 months. However, to sell the product he had to price it well and check if there was enough demand for it in the market.

Virtual Software Store came to their rescue and gave them the lowest price software could be priced at – $15. The software store also helped them with collecting payments. However, the hefty 25% gateway fee was becoming a trouble. They kept cheque payments as an alternative.

 2. Idea to demand validation aka 1st Customers :

 Now that the product was ready for the market, it was significant to comprehend if the market    was ready for the           product.

  1. Technical sites:  It was his obvious option for writing about the product and marketing it to his customer base. He also went back and discussed about his product with the developers at ASP Today.
  2. Word of mouth: Slowly the word travelled and his first purchase request hit his mail. He describes it as the ‘sweetest email anyone had ever written to him.’ He got his first cheque payment.
  3. Feedback: : He was in constant touch with his customers to understand their needs via the early downloaders and feature requests that kept coming in. He released 4 new versions of the FXgraphs in a span of few months.

   3. First Set of Customer to Growth :

       Launch of FusionCharts :

On 22nd October, 2002, he launched FusionCharts keeping in mind every mistake that he had made in the past.More Chart types, better documentation, a logo and a tagline to go added to the product. He backed this by sound payment options, completely removing cheque payments.

Pallav priced the user edition at $35 and developer Edition at $99. This was a product ready to explode!

He worked at his 2D charts conscientiously and develop a new charting component called Fusion charts.

    A) Marketing :

i) Guest blogging on tech websites :


Blogging on tech websites had been the foundation stone of the FXgraphs and had worked exceedingly well for it. Thus, the tested method was applied at Fusion Charts as well. He drew comparisons between traditional charts and the new age modern choices that his tool presented.

The working and installation of his tool was indeed advanced and yet easy!

ii) Directories :

Tech directories were indeed another major market where the potential customers of Fusion charts could be easily targeted. These directories have a huge relevant crowd that would serve as a ready demand for the product at hand. Demand met supply!


As a startup if you’re interested, here are a 100+ directories that you can list yourself on.

iii) Featured listings :

Realizing the potential of directories, Pallav shelled out a hefty amount of $256 to get featured listings on directories, which was earlier used as a free platform to increase his visibility.

iv) Adwords :

Google Adwords were underpriced then and were indeed the best way to market your product extensively.  He grasped the basics of search marketing and worked his way up to $1.4M company in the single financial year.


If you want to look at their exact SEM strategy, take a look at SEMrush.com and it will give you keywords, ad copy and ad strategy.

v) Resellers :

In non-speaking countries, Fusion Charts used the reseller model to their benefit across countries like China and South Korea. Fusion Charts were now hitting big numbers on all charts across revenues and accessibility! The reseller model is a 3 tier strategy wherein, the sellers are divided into Elite Resellers, Preferred Resellers and Authorized Resellers depending upon the sales they generate and the association they have with their buyers.

vi)  India Trade Shows :

Trade shows in NASSCOM conclave familiarized people with his product and company with creative ideas of ‘make a chart, get a cookie’. It was a huge success.


vii) Huge PR coverage :


Almost all-home and foreign media treated Fusion charts as their own baby and threw immense amount of limelight on it. It a major marketing push!


viii) Slideshare:

Slideshare, a brand that has gone places, picked up a lot of modules of FusionCharts and published them on their websites only adding to the numbers that were accelerating at a good pace.


To understand how Slideshare grew from a tiny start-up into a mammoth in its industry, check this out.   

ix) Growth numbers :

FusionCharts grew to10k users by March 2008 with $2.8M in revenue. It had a lot of the fortune 500 companies as part of their customer list including NASA and World Bank.

B)  Productt :

Customisation was Pallav’s second nature while developing products and launched new widgets. He based newer versions on the feedback he had received on his previous versions.

i) Gadgets for Google :

Stepping up to the opportunity presented by iGoogle, they released FusionCharts Google Gadget. Google put it out as a featured gadget and wrote about it on its blog. This was a classic example of free marketing being more valuable than paid marketing.

ii) Combating Competition:

His competition was twerking Pallav’s product and selling it at cheaper prices. Pallav combated competition very smartly by giving out the previous version for free when he launched a newer version of the product. Thus, making it the most inexpensive.
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Expansion :

 A) Marketing :

 i) Creation of Book

Luck favors the prepared. As the company reached 20k customer mark in 2012, Packt Publications came out with a proposal to write a beginner’s guide to Fusion Charts, making it the first data visualization solution in the industry to have a book!

ii) More trade shows :

International trade shows sealed its presence! It was bound to emerge at some point and it did so globally at these trade shows.

iii) Huge PR:


 A) Obama : “ Obama follows FusionCharts on social media”, “the President loved them” were the biggest marketing stunts that created immense value for the company. Obama had personally put FusionCharts on the map!

 B) Federal Charts : US Federal IT used Fusioncharts to display the statuses of important IT projects to the public. It was easy to build and easy to understand. Huge marketing tactic for the company!

iv) Sales Team :

Pallav decided that it is time to have a dedicated sales team at work. Even while setting up this team, he was clear that, sell FusionCharts to a customer only if he needs it.


FusionCharts came out with a new website that acts as a medium of communication between the company and its customers. All the new features and versions of a product could now be found at one place.

A lot of updates are released as and when the market demands. :

  1. Collaboration Filters on SharePoint in May,2018
  2. Brand new Dev-centre with videos and tutorials in March,2018
  3. FusionCharts v3.4 released in June, 2014


5.Summary of Marketing


If this seemed interesting, take a look at our other marketing breakdowns that we’ve cracked for you earlier.

LAUNCHING THE IDEA Blogging + Charts visualization on technical sites like ASP Today. Lost money on first sale.
  1. Technical sites
  2.  Word of Mouth 
  3. Feedback from Blogging Audience
3D Version of FxGraphs had no buyers.
  1.  Directories
  2.  Featured listings
  3. Adwords
  4.  Resellers
  5.  India Trade Shows
  6.  Huge PR coverage
  7. Growth numbers
  8.  Slideshare
Competition that was stealing from FS.

  1. Writing a book with Packt Publication.
  2. Global Trade Shows
  3. Setting up a Sales Team
  4. Better products

Partnerships with larger events

International stores


  1. PR from President Obama
  2. US Federal IT used Fusioncharts
  3. New revised website


  1. Advice from Pallav AKA Words from Pallav :

Pallav has had his blinkers on for more than a decade and a half. From the horse’s mouth :

The past decade as a sum of business learnings has been nothing short of tremendous. Nothing in the business world is carved in stone. Traditional business wisdom has no guarantee of working for you. Business isn’t just about your product or service, a large part of it is about what people feel about you. A genuine conversation, a good story, they all add up.  “



BYJUs featured image

BYJUs featured image


BYJU’s joined the fast-growing and much sought after Unicorn Club earlier this year after it touched the $1 billion valuation mark. It is the first EdTech company from India to reach this milestone and also enjoys the distinction of being the only member in the club from the Indian Edtech space as at date.

BYJU's Logo

Fact Sheet

Brand: BYJU’s
Business: Developing online learning solutions (K-12 segment) and competitive test preparation platforms in India.
Founder/CEO: Byju Raveendran
Co-founder: Divya Gokulnath

 “The problem with our education system is that it gives more importance to breadth than depth. We tend to create many generalists and very few specialists. The focus is on working hard on your weaker areas. On the contrary, I believe you should focus more on building your strengths.”

– Byju Raveendran

Named after its founder, BYJU’s went from being a pioneering offline learning platform to a successful online learning medium that caters to the K-12 education system of India. It also provides prep solutions for professional courses such as GMAT, CAT, IAS, and JEE. What began as an offline coaching center is now a behemoth in the Indian education market. BYJU’s growth story is that of a startup which purely grew offline based on its founder’s brand to fit the needs of a market perfectly. BYJU’s, one of the largest EdTech companies in the world today, working towards revolutionizing education through technology. It is poised to address the challenges that plague schooling in India – lack of access to good teachers and undue emphasis on exams both of which lead to poor student outcomes.

BYJU’s has had an eventful entrepreneurial journey thus far. A timeline to help capture some key milestones.

BYJU's Timeline

Early Days

During his childhood, Byju studied in a Malayalam-medium school in his hometown of Azhikode, Kerala, both inside and outside the classroom. Despite being born into a family of teachers (mother was a math teacher and father a physics teacher), Byju was accustomed to an unstructured environment which helped him choose between study and play at will. His parents and teachers never interfered in his learning or games which helped him immensely. They encouraged his interests in sports which led to him playing multiple sports at the University level.

After finishing his schooling he went onto pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the local university which was acceptable by his parents. They wanted him to become either a doctor or an engineer (may sound familiar to most Indian children) and they were content with his decision. He graduated and went on to take up a job as a service engineer with Pan Ocean Shipping Ltd, a UK-based shipping firm. This job required him to be at sea for six months of the year. When he docked in 2003 for three months he went to Bangalore to meet his friends which is when Byju discovered his special ability for teaching complex and advanced concepts with relative ease.

Launch of Idea

In 2003 while on vacation in Bangalore, Byju offered to help his friends study for the CAT exam, the common entrance exam for the IIMs and other Indian business schools. He too wrote the exam for a lark. His friends did well and he ended up scoring in the 100th percentile. He did not want to pursue an MBA so he did not give the interview.

He took the exam yet again in 2005 and scored in the top 1 percentile. Got in again and attended the interview. Byju was clearly not interested in the destination but in the process. His approach to studying for an exam such as this was what he wanted to focus on and spread among friends.

Byju’s Approach to Learning

Due to his upbringing, Byju had a different approach to learning.

  • Byju didn’t read a lot of books but picked up English by listening to commentaries.
  • He focused on the underlying problem while trying to find solutions to questions.
  • His efforts were directed towards digging deep and capitalizing on his strengths as opposed to knowing just the basics of everything.
  • Byju did not give in to the general tendency of practicing to perform under pressure. He learned for the exams but learned enough so that the exams were a smooth ride. Like any other day.

Informal Workshops

Byju began sessions with 10 friends who in turn told their friends. The count grew to 15 and the sessions turned into informal workshops being conducted in coffee shops. It slowly grew to 30-40 people which is when they had to take it to a classroom. All these sessions were free. He helped people to understand the problem underpinning a question and break it down into something which was a lot easier to answer. According to Byju, “you learn the best when you start asking questions, not to teachers, not to parents, but to yourself.” The other aspect of his teaching involves getting students to take on the primary responsibility for their learning by taking the pressure off, making the concepts attractive, and getting them excited about learning.

Idea to First Set of Customers

The first signs of monetization came with wanting to conduct the sessions at a larger scale due to increased demand. Once there was a demand for more than 50 people Byju and his friends decided to find an auditorium. The auditorium rental was Rs. 100,000. They decided to charge Rs.1000 per student and gauge how many people actually signed up. The marketing was through word of mouth and references. The attendees were serious CAT aspirants and almost all were working professionals. On D-day the auditorium was filled with 100+ people and they more than met their costs.

BYJUs Workshops

This entire journey began with his halt at Bangalore for a vacation and he stayed on to do this with his friends during his 3-month break. He didn’t think of this as a business at the time.

Demand Validation to Growth

It was 2007 and by now BYJU had figured out who his customers were. Although the CAT had both verbal and math sections, a lot of his hacks and content focused solely on Math and Data Interpretation. The results were promising which led to word spreading about the sessions and students signing up before the exam.

Planned Beginning

During this phase, the approach started informally and only when the results began to show it became a lot more formal and organized when Byju realized that he was clearly not going back to his job at the shipping firm. The plan was to make the classes scalable as a program across cities in India.

Here is how he and his team went about setting things up and how it panned out –

Program Structure

  • It would be a 10-week program but students could also join between Week 1 & Week 10.
  • The program would have a rolling format with multiple ongoing batches.
  • There would be weekday and weekend batches.
  • People would need to pay upfront for the 10-week program.
  • Pricing
  • The initial price point was set just to break even
  • There was an initial free session followed by the 10-week session.

 Competition (at the time)

  • TIME, Career Launcher, PT Education.
  • Organizations, not individuals.

Initial Playbook

  • The team zeroed in on a few select colleges through the respective alumni.
  • All the marketing efforts were student-led. 2 to 3 enterprising and active students in each college served as evangelists who helped promote a free quant workshop which was then followed up with signing up for the program.
  • They did everything from booking the auditorium to getting close to 200 to 300 students to attend by leveraging the alumni connection and building a brand with the use of student power.
  • This was done online through social groups, mailers, and virtual bulletins.
  • They also used offline media such as print flyers, ads and of course, word of mouth to spread the word.
  • The pitch used to help draw in the students was “Classes by a CAT topper. Backed by strong content.”


Until 2007, close to 2500 students in Bangalore had already graduated from the program.

Program’s Success

  • The program was conceptual and motivational.
  • It was divided into intense 4-hour workshops which called for extreme focus. If you blinked you would end up missing something.
  • It was unstructured, unlike the conventional class format.
  • The program offered a lot of hacks on how to beat the exam.
  • It offered tons of conceptual clarity, making it easier for students to solve all kinds of questions.
  • Students were able to see an immediate increase, with some moving from 97 percentile to 99.
  • The format offered plug and play concepts with immediate results.

Growth to Expansion

This phase of growth saw robust efforts being made towards marketing, product development, and expansion activities. BYJU’s had the advantage of speed. The team was able to gauge the need, required aptitude and expand in the respective areas.


Newspaper Ads: Print Ads were placed in national and regional newspapers like The Hindu urging CAT aspirants to try out this “new kid on the block”. A lot of students registered because it was free. More often than not they would receive a call from Byju himself after they registered. A personal account of a student who got to know of BYJU’s through this route.

TV Ads: BYJU’s launched TV campaigns to encourage learning among students. These led to the total number of app downloads crossing 6 million. Despite not spending a great deal of money, BYJU’s managed to tap into serious users (almost 70%) that were present in the non-metros.

BYJU's Fall in love with learning

Large Scale Workshops: The team began organizing workshops on a larger scale with close to 5000-10,000 people in attendance. BYJU’s moved the venue from auditoriums which could no longer house such numbers to stadiums. The app was thus downloaded in large numbers by the attendees.

Workshops in Stadiums

Google AdWords: This form of online marketing was deployed under BYJU’s parent company, Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd.

Word of Mouth: The local student representatives in each city helped spread the word through verbal and virtual bulletins.


Books with Notes: In addition to the classes BYJU’s also sold books which provided simple notes for every topic that facilitated the learning process.

Tab + Preloaded Educational content: It partnered with Samsung to sell a pre-loaded tablet which contained UPSC content. Until the time of the exam the tablet could only be used to study from content related to the exam, but after that, it became a general all-purpose tablet.

Subscription Model: BYJU’s used the subscription model to generate revenues. It charged a yearly subscription of Rs.12000 which was its main income generator. The SD card sold as part of the subscription could be used on a mobile phone or tablet.

Courses: Classes taken as part of the courses were a huge draw and contributed significantly to the revenue stream.

Apps: These provided a range of services and ways of engagement-

Mentoring: It was used to provide mentoring sessions that cost Rs. 1000 for a 45-minute one-on-one session.

  • The user could create the session
  • Choose the individual subject/topic

Quiz: Students could invite friends and challenge other students across diverse subjects. The App provides a Quiz Up like interface for the same which helps improve engagement.

Tests: There were free tests the users could take to increase learning and improve their knowledge.

YouTube Content: With 139,000 subscribers, BYJU’s monetized through ads on YouTube.

BYJU’s The Learning App

BYJU's The Learning App


The app mainly targeted children from Grade 4- Grade 12


  • The app had a freemium model (free and premium) right from the beginning.
  • There was a 7-day free trial @ Rs 299
  • The full course could be downloaded @ Rs 9,900
  • Average price was Rs 10,000
  • It had categories of content
  • No discounts were made available. The logic being the price was pegged at Rs. 1000 a month. This price was maintained from the beginning. Only government schools and those who could not afford it were not charged. However, there was a large market that could afford it. It was a more expensive option when compared to a textbook, but a lot cheaper than a tuition center.

Format of Content

  • Free videos
  • Free tests
  • Unlock complete course and content at a price


  • It took 4 years to fully develop this interactive product through multiple explorations and product focus involving formats and options.
  • The product combined Tech + Media + Content. According to Byju “Most Edtech companies across the globe, ones who actually create content do it in two ways. One is by simply capturing what is being said and the second one is by using 2D animation, 3D animation and characters to teach. What we have done is, we’ve mixed real teachers with animation, making it a seamless experience. It took us so much time and so much effort to bring out the energy through the videos.”
  • The app contains popular videos, free concept videos, guides.
  • It also contains a Live Chat feature.


  • The biggest challenge is the notion that students need spoon feeding.
  • Without the freemium model, it was difficult to demonstrate the potential for the same.
  • Getting students to use a tablet has been a hassle, but the next generation will learn only from tablets.
  • Establishing a pan India brand in the offline model is difficult.

Summary of Growth

Launch of Idea

(2003 – 2006)

  • Unique Approach to Learning
  • Informal Workshops
Idea to First Set of Customers

(2006 – 2007)

  • Formal Workshop (Auditorium)
Demand Validation to Growth

(2007 – 2009)

  • Planned Program
  • Structure
  • Pricing
  • Playbook
Growth to Expansion

(2009 – 2016)

  • Marketing
    • Newspaper Ads
    • TV Ads
    • Large Scale Workshops
    • Google AdWords
    • Word of Mouth
  • Products
    • Books with Notes
    • Tab + Preloaded Educational content
    • Subscription Model
    • Courses
    • Apps
    • YouTube Content
  • BYJU’s App
    • Demographic
    • Pricing
    • Format of Content
    • Product
    • Challenges

Distribution of Traffic

SimilarWeb, a data collection tool was used to gather statistics related to online visitors.

Close to 81% of the traffic is from search due to its high Domain Authority in India which increases the probability of its content showing up on organic results for users in India where it is majorly used. It is also indicative of BYJU’s optimized content. BYJU’s ad budget is mainly taken up by Google’s Display Ads which get featured on sites globally, followed by some local sites and paid referrals.

The social traffic is mainly through YouTube where BYJU’s hosts its training videos. It also receives significant mobile traffic through its diverse and free learning apps which are a roaring success.

As at April 2018, BYJU’s had 15 million users, close to 900K paid annual subscriptions and a high annual renewal rate of 90%.

SimilarWeb BYJUs Overview

SimilarWeb BYJUs Sources

SimilarWeb BYJUs Geo

SimilarWeb BYJUs Social

SimilarWeb BYJUs Ads

SimilarWeb BYJUs Apps


The funding history with specific milestones appears in the Timeline above.

However, there was significant learning before and after the fundraising events that Byju speaks of.

Why Raise Funds

  • Byju did not need funds for operations in India. He needed them because he aspired to make BYJU’s a global brand.
  • He did not copy the US or China when it came to product development. BYJU’s products stand at the intersection of Content, Media, and Technology which cannot be fully automated. The funds are required to propel a brand which clearly goes beyond education. It is an amalgamation of the aforementioned pillars of communication.
  • India is a particularly difficult market in which to get students to learn from a device (mobile/tablet). However other English-speaking countries are a lot more advanced and are already onto this. However, the products in use are below par thus Byju wants to expand and create products for these international markets.
  • It wants to use a significant portion of the bandwidth available from funding to create interactive videos and games.
  • 100% of the revenue earned is retained within BYJU’s. Everything is done in-house. Right down to the background voiceover and music. Byju wants to keep it that way.
  • He has and will continue to use the funding to acquire interesting products that can help the brand gain a competitive edge.


  • Byju selected investors who actually love Edtech, liked the initiative and were not interested in investing only because it is hot.
  • The company saw early and continued interest and support from Aarin Capital, followed by Lightspeed India Partners, Sequoia India and Sofina.
  • BYJU’s was the first Asian company to be selected by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative for investment towards creating a social impact.

Mark Zuckerberg's FB post

Use of Funds

  • Accelerate product development.
  • Launch new disciplines and a tech piece for students.
  • Hire more people.
  • In 2015 the BYJU’s The Learning App was launched.
  • The app was developed into a highly personalized platform with a very strong tech team.

Founder Insights

On Learning

  • Learn on your own: When you learn on your own, you are making questions. Byju’s learning methods predominantly hinged on visualizing techniques to understand concepts.
  • Take up a Team Sport: Playing outdoor sports from a very young age gave Byju a lot of the social skills and confidence that have taken him far in his business ventures. The balanced focus between study and play helped him both in class and outside too. “That’s how you develop your skills on how to work in a team, lead a team, how to inspire. The killer instinct and controlled aggression, it’s all from what you learn in class and a great deal from outside,” Byju adds.
  • Play with Numbers: Math should be treated as a shorter language and not a subject. A language comprising words, variables, and numbers. Byju structured his learning so as to consistently play with numbers on a daily basis. This also led to a very unconventional way of teaching because of his understanding of the language. Still speaking about Math.

On Working

  • Build a Personal Brand: The efficiency of the product/service should be synonymous with your brand’s persona to reinforce customer confidence and brand recall.
  • Create Offline Communities: The offline model is a lot more crucial at the outset for personalized service and to help spread the word through references. This may be overlooked due to easier access through the online model.
  • Maintain a Lean Operation: BYJU’s clearly had a lot of funding very early on but it took a keenly followed lean model that led to reaching the much-awaited Rs. 100 crore revenue milestone earlier this year.
  • Make it Goal Oriented: Attaining short-term goals consistently while keeping your eye on the prize helps build momentum and keep things moving.
  • Creating more Byjus: According to him “If you ask me where I have been successful, it’s in recreating a lot more Byjus or better than the original Byju. I have been able to sell my vision of making an impact in terms of how the students are learning and why that is important. Coming from my kind of background, I know that education is the reason for what I am today and education is the only way to make it big or the best way to make it big, depending on which section (of society) you belong to.”
  • Building a special culture: For Byju the line between office and family is thin. Friends and family are at work. Every day is a Sunday when you do things that you love with everyone aligned to the same vision.

On Personal Growth

  • Compete with yourself day in and day out: Your competition is not with others, it is with yourself. Especially when you are creating something which people have not done before, the competition has to be with yourself.
  • Increase your aspirational level as much as possible: Even if it means losing, maintain a benchmark that is par excellence.

SlideShare needs no introduction. It went from being a pivot of an already successful consulting business (Uzanto) and a pioneering software (MindCanvas) to being a force to reckon with in the professional content community present online. SlideShare had established its behemoth position in the content space when it was acquired by LinkedIn that helped leverage its reach among other perks. Here is a quick look at all that went into making it the Quiet (not so quiet now) Giant of Content Marketing.

Fact Sheet

Brand: SlideShare
Business: Knowledge/Content sharing platform.
Founder/CEO: Rashmi Sinha
Co-founders: Jonathan Boutelle, Amit Ranjan

 “We have taken a medium, a cold format for business communication, and made it social.”

– Amit Ranjan, Co-Founder, SlideShare

As the name suggests SlideShare is an online platform that helps people share slides and presentations. Formats such as .ppt .pdf .key can be uploaded and viewed on the site. SlideShare creates engagement through likes, shares, and comments by users on the slides present online. It has revolutionized presentations and the way people see them.

The Founding Team

SlideShare didn’t actually start off as SlideShare but was a pivot from a consulting business called Uzanto. The backstory of SlideShare began in 2001. Rashmi, a Psychology graduate from Brown University was pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Even though she liked the program, a small part of her knew she wanted to build things and not churn out research papers all her life. The web and its workings managed to pique Rashmi’s curiosity enough to follow it up with her professors in the Information Science department. She discovered her passion for Social Software and Interface Design.

In 2003 when the internet boom was unfolding, Rashmi decided to dabble with this phenomenon and founded Uzanto, a user experience design consulting company in 2003.  At Uzanto she had clients that included the likes of eBay, eBay, Blue Shield of California, AAA of California, and Ellie Mae. Her husband, Jonathan Boutelle, a software engineer and her brother Amit Ranjan an MBA professional joined her at Uzanto and helped build on the method Rashmi had devised and translated it into a software. While Rashmi and Jonathan worked out of San Francisco, in 2004, Amit started the company’s subsidiary in Delhi and hired 5-6 team members.

In November 2005, the team released MindCanvas, an online game-like software that ran surveys and facilitated customer research through technology. The use of MindCanvas as a product was sold to leading companies like Microsoft and Yahoo. MindCanvas was monetized as a result and the team was able to run it for 1.5 years without any funding. MindCanvas was the first live instance that demonstrated the distinct skill set each founding member brought to the table – Rashmi contributed to the Design/UX component, Jonathan to the Technology aspect and Amit to the Business-side of things. 2 years into MindCanvas and the team realized it was a B2B product which was built around their consulting practice at Uzanto. This meant they would only be able to scale with people and not technology. They clearly had complementing skill sets to start a technology company. This was just the beginning.

Genesis of SlideShare

In 2004 the trend of unconferences, an open version of technology conferences was on the rise. These were also referred to as bar camps. It brought people in specific areas, both professional and geographic together and they paid to attend it. In 2005 the San Franciso Bay area began to host 1000s of bar camps aka Startup weekend or Mobile Mondays.

In 2006, Amit and Jonathan organized the first bar camp in India at Adobe’s office in Delhi NCR. People from all over the world were in attendance with presentations being made throughout the day. The presenters wanted to distribute the presentations to the audience members and reached out to Jonathan and Amit to help them do that. They noticed that a lot of people were taking pictures of the presentation because it was easy to share images and videos of images on YouTube, Flickr, and such platforms. They were also exchanging files on USB drives. But there was no direct platform on the web that was able to host these presentations in their original format.

It seemed like a problem that needed a solution and they decided to pull out a few engineers from MindCanvas and see how a product could be built around this feature. It took 6 months to build. A very basic version of SlideShare saw the light of day in October 2006. In December 2006 they decided to shut down MindCanvas which was running successfully.

SlideShare’s Growth Story (Behind the Scenes)

Idea to Prototype

According to Amit Ranjan, Co-Founder & COO of Slideshare “The idea behind SlideShare initially began as a product for conference organizers to share slides. The focus was presentations and making them robust. Use by conference organizers was the first application and the focus was to reach out to this category of users. The first version was really basic. It allowed the user to upload a file, copy and use the embed code generated on external platforms. SlideShare became a utility for uploading and sharing a PowerPoint Presentation.”

Early Adopters to Growth

The idea began picking up with more and more users hosting content that garnered traffic and was also a simple and seamless way of communicating their ideas to the world. Initially, users barely tracked the performance of their content on SlideShare. After the first few months users took notice of the traffic their content was generating on SlideShare.

The SlideShare team was driven by product and focused on building capability. Their only marketing spend post-launch was the product review carried out by Tech Crunch titled Introducing SlideShare: PowerPoint + YouTube.They got their early adopters from the word that spread through the feature in October 2006.

6 months down the line the team discovered many other uses for SlideShare –

  • Users were initially hosting presentations on YouTube which was not the best format for it. SlideShare was proving to be a more web-friendly format for presentations in their original format. This attracted a lot of users.
  • People started inserting photos in a slideshow and shared it on SlideShare. It was well optimized in a horizontal format. Click, click, click. People loved its ease and SlideShare got a lot of users.
  • Companies were using these presentations as a marketing tool.

Product/Market Fit to Scale 

The data handling and analytical portions of the backend were not too sophisticated.  They were more observational, intuitive and gut-driven. Even the decisions that came from them. Especially because there are different types of data and a lot of it is superficial with little or no bearing on the actual trends and performance of the product. However, if you dig deeper there are a lot more insights. For instance, the team realized that among the top ten content creators, more than 50% had signed up with their company email ids. So the use of SlideShare was more professional than personal. The companies were not necessarily on SlideShare. The database revealed the latest trends.

Game-Changing Growth Hacks

The SlideShare team resorted to several hacks that proved to be crucial game-changers at the product/market stage –

Hack #1

Placing Content on the Homepage to Drive Engagement

The team noticed a certain type of content gaining popularity on the platform. The content read like a visual story and was a huge relief from the tech-heavy ppts. The team looked further and noticed these visual slides were being uploaded by designers and creative agencies. To cash in on it they tried this hack. They put the content on the Homepage and then sent an email to the uploader informing them of the same and encouraging them to send the link to their friends. This feature went viral with people sharing the link to their work on the Homepage and at times also followed it up with a blog post about the event. The viral loop was insane, drove engagement and worked very well for SlideShare.

Hack #2

Come right back to SlideShare

SlideShare installed a feature in all of the presentations uploaded online. It was the ‘View on SlideShare’ option that allowed visitors to open the presentation in SlideShare after locating the deck on an external website. So even though users were able to upload a presentation, generate a link and embed the code on their blogs and websites, the visitors still had a way to find themselves back on SlideShare if they clicked on the icon to view on SlideShare. This feature also helped advertise the SlideShare brand on external sites the web over.

Hack #3

Share via email and social shares

The team inserted social hooks for sharing through Twitter and Facebook and mainly through email. All of these sharing tools are still very much in use even as of today.


SEO Hack (Organic search)

To build in SEO, the team took text and links from images and placed it as a transcript below the presentation. Thus the bottom half was for bots to identify text and the top half was for humans to view the deck. This made the page longer and created stronger SEO value for the same.


YouTube videos inside SlideShare

How to get people to engage with the content and make it more exciting for them? A tough one. But SlideShare found a solution. Considering a majority of the content was textual in nature with bullet points, subtle layouts, the presentations could be rather boring. Videos were exploding at the time. They began fusing videos with content to drive engagement. They began embedding links using IFRAME into decks and this drove a ton of traffic. They even taught users how to do add sound bytes, screenshots and make their presentations talk. Here is how. Considering they began as the YouTube of powerpoints, this hack was inevitable.


Getting Angel Investors who were SlideShare users on board

When the team was looking to expand and raise funds for the very first time they reached out directly (through good old email) to distinguished members of the SlideShare community who also happened to be angel investors. These included Mark Cuban, Jonathan Abrams, and Dave McClure. They were some of the first ones to invest in SlideShare.


Added Analytics for Users 

The team added analytics around metrics that would help users determine how their presentations were performing. These included traffic sources, visits by geography/source and engagement stats to name a few. They also published a Guide on Analytics and how it could be accessed for each user account.


Embeds leading to Backlinks

The team wanted people to embed content. This idea came from what they saw on YouTube. New users usually found YouTube by way of video links embedded onto blogs. With all the readers of the blogs getting exposed to SlideShare, embedding was becoming a form of free marketing. This resulted in 60% embed links on the site and 40% across other websites. SlideShare was the very first website on the internet that did this actively. Each time somebody copied the embed code and put it on the blog, they got a link back to their website. With every embed, they got a backlink. It did wonders for their SEO. They got 10,000s of backlinks from harvard.edu. However, they dropped this later because they figured Google may find it spammy.


Best Presentation Contest

SlideShare had a whole bunch of users who created presentations frequently. From 2008 they began hosting the Best Presentation Contest annually each year where users were free to make presentations on whichever topic they fancied. Pre-determined categories were made available and the panel to judge these presentations were the who’s who from the world of communication. These included experts like Guy Kawasaki, Bert Decker, Garr Reynolds, Jerry Weissman, Jane Hart and Beth Kanter to name a few. The idea was to have killer slide decks go head to head for some of the best prizes (sponsors included the likes of Microsoft) on offer and the coveted title of Best Presentation on SlideShare.


April Fools Day Prank

On 31st March 2009, SlideShare decided to play an April Fools Day prank on their users by adding two extra zeroes to their presentation views on SlideShare. They sent out emails to users and asked them to mark their tweets with #bestofslideshare. People were surprised and fooled and the prank managed to do what it was meant to…have some fun but it also stirred up some conversations on Twitter even though the views were rolled back to normal within a few hours. The hack managed to grab eyeballs and trigger engagement but it also drove home some Lessons for the SlideShare team. They realized statistics were sacred and an April Fools joke can only be called that if people figure it out within 30 seconds of viewing it. Learning has always been an important aspect of SlideShare and they treated this too as a hack that taught them a few truths.


Fuze Meeting + Slideshare, Tell a Story Contest

In 2009 SlideShare got together with Fuze Meeting (now fuze) to host a storytelling contest. They wanted audiences to tell their stories in words and pictures, using audio or video. Whatever they preferred but within 30 slides. It could be a brand story or even something that people cared about. They had a line up of prizes for various categories and also a widely known judges panel to decide the winners. The contest garnered traffic and engagement with people sharing links to the contest and their presentation on social media and through email.

What did not work?

  • Zing was one feature added by SlideShare that clearly did not work. This feature was derived from the model of voting things up and down. Features like social sharing, no of favorites, no of comments were already present on SlideShare to indicate which content was most engaging and liked. Zing proved to be an artificial way of doing something that was already factored into the features and thus nobody got it, nobody used it and the SlideShare team was compelled to remove the code and throw it out.
  • SlideShare faced some heat in terms of competition within the presentation sharing space with the advent of Speaker Deck which claimed to be simpler and not cluttered. Speaker Deck was acquired by Github. It is a free service with no ads and can only handle pdf files up to 50MB. It is mainly used by the programming community.

SlideShare was built with a lot of hits (Zipcast for instance) and a few misses. It was a high gestation product which required the team to rough it out for 3 to 5 years. They survived and thrived with the right expectancy and mindset for an innovative product.

Acquisition by LinkedIn

With the world’s largest professional network (LinkedIn) acquiring the world’s largest professional content community (SlideShare), the outcome was a complementary one. At the time Slideshare had around 50 million users and Linkedin had 350 million users. Clearly, there was no risk in the product and the two put together made for a lethal combination. Professionally it made complete sense and personally, too it made complete financial sense. Everyone at SlideShare had equity and the employees also stood to gain from this acquisition.

SlideShare’s Revenue Models

Barring Paid Accounts here are some of the unique revenue generation models deployed by SlideShare –

B2B Lead generation

Lead generation is very popular on SlideShare with companies offering products/services being able to attract and convert visitors and prospects into individuals showing a keen interest in the company. The lead generating element in the case of SlideShare is the online content created and shared by individuals and companies seeking to spread information about

Content Ads on LinkedIn

This format provides a paid option for clients to gain targeted engagement and leads through rich and optimized content on SlideShare. SlideShare & LinkedIn together provide a strong source of earned, owned and paid options for marketing through these content ads. With the acquisition by LinkedIn, brands now have a unique opportunity to share their content with LinkedIn’s professional community through SlideShare Content Ads. These ads can also feature company news, videos, and blogs. Thus brands can showcase their content as SlideShare presentations and market it to targetted professional communities in the LinkedIn space.

Sponsor Channels

AdShare & LeadShare

AdShare lets companies run ads on SlideShare which are relevant to the content that people are viewing. LeadShare, on the other hand, prompts users on the site to provide their contact information either before or after viewing a presentation if they wish to receive additional information about the sellers (companies) and their products.

Distribution of Traffic

SimilarWeb, a data collection tool was used to gather statistics related to online visitors.

Even though a lot of competitors have come up in the slide sharing place, SlideShare is still the most visited and used platform for sharing and uploading presentations. The fact that it receives a lot of its traffic from search isn’t surprising. Its high Domain Authority increases the probability of its content showing up on organic results. Also, a lot of marketers especially in the B2B space have started optimizing their content on SlideShare to show up for organic results.

From all the SlideShare hacks that you see in this content piece, SlideShare has an embed feature which gives them a ton of referral traffic. Now, Similarweb may not reflect that but even today that’s been their #1 strategy for growth.

Takeaway: Looking at this data, I would recommend if you’re a B2B business, look at the kind of content that is doing well on SlideShare in your category and see if you can create a better version of it and rank for it.


Summary of Growth

Idea →  Prototype
  • 1st Business → Uzanto
  • 1st Product → MindCanvas
  • Pivot to Slideshare [Bar Camps → Problem → Research → Prototype]
Early Adopters → Growth
  • Built product
  • Zeroed in on customer persona i.e. conference-goers
  • Sent information to Tech Crunch to spread the word (marketing)
  • Discovered multiple customer personas based on data
  • The use moved horizontally.
  • The utility aspect of the product was really strong
Product/Market Fit → Scale
  • Hack 1: Placing Content on the Homepage to Drive Engagement
  • Hack 2: Come right back to SlideShare
  • Hack 3: Share via email and social shares
  • Hack 4: SEO Hack (Organic search)
  • Hack 5: YouTube videos inside SlideShare
  • Hack 6: Getting Angel Investors who were SlideShare users on board
  • Hack 7: Added Analytics for Users
  • Hack 8: Embeds leading to Backlinks
  • Hack 9: Best Presentation Contest
  • Hack 10: April Fools Day Prank
  • Hack 11: Fuze Meeting + Slideshare, Tell a Story Contest


Founders’ Insights

Product Perspective

The SlideShare team gathers product insights in a very balanced and holistic manner. This is how they approach the periodic review of SlideShare.

  1. They begin by analyzing everything. The qualitative and quantitative data or as they like to put it the art and the science. But at first, the emphasis is a lot more on the art. More qualitative first, then quantitative.
  2. In SlideShare given the diversity of content, the initial part is a lot more iterative thus more experimental and a lot more art and less science. The reverse is true for LinkedIn which is more science thus more predictive and formalized research is involved and a lot less art.
  3. What is science/quantitative data in this regard?
    • Overall User Behavior aka superficial data. This can be sourced using Google Analytics.
    • Individual User Behavior Data that helps identify who the users are.
    • Product Data which helps identify what type of content is leading in views and engagement and how are users interacting with it.
    • System Data helps identify features that are most in use and also email addresses in use. For instance, a close look at the leading content creators indicated that they used their work-related systems and not their personal accounts.
  4. What is art/qualitative data in this regard?
    • Feedback which provides insights into what people are saying about the product.
    • Observational Data which delves into the general trends noticed around the use of the product.

People Perspective

  • Give your team the chance to express themselves and showcase their ideas.
  • Instill a sense of ownership.
  • Create a culture that believes in giving ideas a fair chance.
  • Make people believe the company/team is iterative and open to change.

Their parting shot on how to get it right while starting up – Stay super lean and agile in the early days. Aim for a quick release.

I found a gem of an interview conducted at Stanford where Rashmi Sinha and Jonathan Boutelle spoke rather candidly about how SlideShare came to be and their journey with it. This dates back to February 2010 before the LinkedIn acquisition. Worth a watch. Cheers.

Sharing a Measure of Success (Entire Talk)

InMobi acquired the coveted title of India’s First Unicorn when it earned a $1 billion valuation and was strategically positioned to challenge the status quo of Google and Facebook in the mobile ad space. Despite the doubts and questions around InMobi’s profitability and success over the years, it turned full circle (yet again) this year when it made it to CNBC’s Disruptor 50 List for pathbreaking innovations that have elevated the mobile advertising and marketing industries to the next level. In more than a decade of its existence, InMobi has experienced several highs and lows. Let’s take a brief look at their entrepreneurial journey through it all.

InMobi Logo


Fact Sheet

Brand: InMobi (Originally MKhoj)
Business: World’s largest independent mobile advertising network
Founder/CEO: Naveen Tewari
Co-Founders: Abhay Singhal, Amit Gupta, and Mohit Saxena

“One has to figure out ways of competing by doing things differently. If we do exactly what others are doing, it would not work.”

– Naveen Tewari

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