The Founder of This Bollywood Gossip Website Missed Her Daily Dose When She Moved to the US, So She Decided to Start Her Own
PinkVilla's Nandini Shenoy counts her tech background as an advantage, but content undoubtedly comes first
Nandini Shenoy built a Bollywood news platform without any prior experience. It didn’t happen overnight, it took her 10 years to finally get her baby brand PinkVilla up and kicking. In a conversation with Entrepreneur India, Shenoy shares her journey.
Born and brought up in Mangalore, a graduate from NIT Suratkal and New Jersey, Shenoy was a huge Bollywood fan. In 2007, there were no online news websites for Bollywood news. “I didn’t have access to Bollywood magazines in the States. I was missing my daily doze. I thought why not create a platform for Bollywood fanatics like myself to be able to have a discussion on Bollywood,” tells Shenoy.
Since she was a software engineer, she planned on developing it herself. From December to March, she created a user-generated content website where anyone could post. At that time, Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan were getting married and there was gossip around it. The idea was to create a platform to connect with Bollywood fans.
At that time, Orkut was popular. With word of mouth publicity, the platform grew. “I was still working at Microsoft, I would come back from work and I would create articles, features for the website. Back in 2009, there were some photos of Sonam Kapoor that were posted on Pinkvilla and they went viral. Hindustan Times contacted me and said they would like to use the photos and would give me a back link. After that, there was no looking back,” says Shenoy.
She got a team in place – editors, photographers, built a network of PRs, production houses. By 2010-11, some celebrities wanted to be featured in Pinkvilla because there were not many digital websites at that time, and she used to do interviews from the US. She then created an office in Mumbai. She now has as many as 35 people working out of Mumbai without any external funding.
In 2010, when things started picking up at Pinkvilla, she quit her job at Microsoft and her entire concentration was then focused on the website. At that time, movie production houses started getting in touch with her for advertisements. “So we have been self-funded and profitable. Our videos are doing extremely well. We have partnered with Facebook, YouTube and Hotstar,” exclaims Shenoy.
Every Bollywood Star Follows Pinkvilla & Wants to Be Featured by PinkVilla
Shenoy says the website is updated 24*7, so when it is night in India, it is update out of the US. When people are waking up in the morning, it is updated out of Mumbai.
The editorial team works out of India, and the technology team working out of the States tells Shenoy.
“Being from the tech background, I knew I had to figure out the SEO first before I decided on the content. If the content works and the SEO doesn’t work, the website can’t work. If Google and other tech platforms don’t understand the content on my website, I will go nowhere. I have to keep evolving because Google keeps changing its algorithms every other day,” says Shenoy.
She believes it is very easy to create a website, so there is always competition in the digital space. She counts her tech background as an advantage, but content undoubtedly comes first.
Videos is a big investment, we wouldn’t know what works says Shenoy. The bit about being patient and understanding what the audience wants to consume has been a bit challenging for her. Also, things in the digital space moving quickly that one has to constantly evolve themselves and adapt quickly to be able to stay on top is another challenge for Shenoy.
She believes having the right people is paramount. “If you don’t have the right people, you end up concentrating on what’s not really relevant,” says Shenoy.
Shenoy co-founded the venture with her husband who is currently working with Netflix in the United States.