StartupTalky is one of the strongest community in India and we have a lot of professionals who are doing great in their lives. To share their learnings and inspire as many people as we can, we are interviewing all the StartupTalkers in our "Know the StartupTalker" series.
Today, we have Mr. Md Khalid Hasan as our interviewee. Md Khalid Hasan is the founder of a media platform for the youth of India, Aapka Times. You will learn a lot from this story of Md Khalid Hasan in his own words.
Who are you?
I am Md Khalid Hasan and I am the founder of Aapka Times. It is a news portal which focuses on the students of the big university to cover news which they need to know about.
Describe your product/service ?
Aapka Times is a youth-oriented online news portal which covers exclusively college news from Indian Universities and Colleges with special focus on youths and social issues. Aapka Times has the privilege to be the only news portal which covers news across the Universities and Colleges. Aapka Times has the privilege to be the only news portal which covers news across the Universities and Colleges. Soon we will be coming with printed edition as we got RNI approval for the printing version.We also provide a strong platform for students to nurture their journalistic skills. We have been making constant endeavors of partnering with college fests and a recent step is a partnership with the annual fests of Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Miranda House, Jamia Hamdard University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women (IGDTUW) and much more to count.
Our network is growing exponentially. Moreover, our chains of reporters enable us to catch campus news in an instant. Besides this, we tap every big news as well as that news which lag behind and are not picked up by others. We believe in creating awareness and showing the true colors of news.We have Readership of more than 1 Lakh visits every month, which makes us the fastest growing online youth oriented News Portal.
How did you come up with this idea?
I was always interested in news reporting despite having engineering student and I tried to write for some news websites but they all rejected me just because of my engineering background so I thought of making it different was by involving students who need a good platform to show their journalistic skills but are unable to do so due to lack of a suitable place to nurture their talent. Therefore the basic idea behind our news portal was to encourage students to write and promote their talents and provide them with a platform to showcase their talents.
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How did you come up with the name of your Startup?
As we had come with the idea to provide platform to all students we started thinking the name which seems to be own to every reader so we named it as "Aapka Times"
What did you do just after getting the idea?
I just called one of my friend who is a journalist and was working with a reputed daily news and discussed the plan with him and he helped and encouraged me and guided me to start.
Tell us about your business model?
We do publish news/articles from colleges of India, it's a kind of social entrepreneur. We have been doing social campaigns too.We are totally dependent on donations,volunteers and advertising.
What is your revenue model?
Advertising is our main source of revenue.
How did you acquire your initial customers?
We acquired our initial visitors through Social media.
What options do your customers have? And how are you different from them?
We are not customer based startups. We have readers and we get advertisers who advertise on our website are our customers. Aapka Times is different from others because we are exclusively focusing on alternate journalism by aiming at Colleges of India.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now and how did you overcome it ?
In starting we needed huge money to start the news portal as charges of website designers were pretty high which was almost out of our budget. So we dropped the idea to get our portal designed by website designers instead of that I started learning online how to create websites for news portals and learnt to design a website and designed it myself.
I have an excellent team of people who are making constant efforts for Aapka Times on a personal level. No challenge is big enough as long as I have the support of those people.
What is the source of startup capital? Also share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We have not actively looked out for funding from investors. We started with a limited amount that came from personal savings and monetary support from friends.But now we are looking for the investors.
How did you meet your team (co-founders) and what is their background?
Few of them are my friends and few of them were interns but due to their remarkable performance they are now integral part of the team. Most of them are from English Literature background.
Where do you want to see your startup in the next 3 year?
Our plan is to connect all the universities and colleges of India through Aapka Times and recruit campus reporters in each and every college and make it to India’s top youth oriented website. We have a plan to setup university chapters in different universities to start regular social activities as well as campaigns on various social issues. We have planned to launch our printed newspaper in other cities of India too including Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Patna.
In the next 3 years we are also planning to hold training sessions and online journalism related workshops, where our main goal would be to acquaint students with online journalism, its opportunities and demands, and to encourage them to see online journalism as a new avenue of journalism where they can make their career. We would make them learn the nuances and techniques of news reporting. We would also provide internships to students across different universities in India. Moreover we are planning to get in touch with all the central universities, IITs, IIMs, national schools of laws, dramas, design etc.
What entrepreneurial hacks/online tools/ services/ apps do you use to stay focused and keep your day productivity?
Wunderlist, Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, Plagiarism checker & Internship websites.
What are your strategies to build awesome work culture in your company?
We often engage the team members in weekend meetings with hangouts with them to make a good bond and develop attitude tow work like a family.
What do you look for in a candidate who aspires to join your company?
We look for the creative minds with socially active attitude.
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Any suggestion/quote that you would like to share with budding entrepreneurs?
"Great minds must be ready not only to take opportunities but to make them too."