Class of 2021 BSc Computer Science graduate Anupam Ghosal has created a social news platform that allows users all over the world share real-life stories and accounts that mainstream media wouldn’t usually feature.
I came to Essex from New Delhi, India. The University was particularly appealing to me having had friends who studied here and hearing about their positive experience as international students. It was important to me to study at an institution that not only had strong academic foundation, but also promoted inclusion and a sense of community.
During my final year of study, the world was still dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having family and friends based in different regions across the globe, it became clear to me that the news and stories being reported by people ‘on the ground’ often differed greatly to what was being reported by international media outlets. To me, there was a blatant manipulation of data being released, demonstrating the corruption of some mainstream media, and reinforcing the rich/poor divide across nations.
Following the Black Lives Matter movement, I felt that there was mistrust of reporting via mainstream media and flaws in the way information was moderated on social media platforms. I began my own research project to find out the opinions of others around the globe regarding the ways social and mainstream media is accessed, viewed, and responded to, and to assess the demand for a platform contributed to and moderated by a community of users rather than the powers that be.
Using my technical know-how, I started building a social news platform that would allow the distribution of real stories in real time. I launched Riple with the intention of giving a voice to everyone, allowing even the small stories the opportunity to go global.
I attended the Essex Startups Dragon’s Den event and was delighted to be awarded £500 (funded by Santander Universities) to invest into the business. Following this, I received mentoring from Entrepreneur-in-Residence Magdalena Mahdy, who helped me to reflect on my overall aims for the business and the marketing strategy for raising the profile of Riple globally.
I am working on the business full-time, alongside my two founding partners. I am based in the UK and generally work around 50-60 hours a week, but I am able to work to my own timetable and coordinate my schedule with colleagues and employees based across the globe. My area of expertise is the technical development of the platform, so I oversee the technical support team based in India. We are a small management team with complementary skill sets, with my co-founders focus on marketing and finance respectively.
At the moment, the platform has 3,000 users. The investment received from participating in Dragon’s Den has been put into our marketing budget. Our aim is to have 10,000 users by the end of 2023. We are very focused on the user experience so have made the decision not to monetise the platform at this time but, ultimately, we intend to obtain revenue through advertising when we reach 100,000 users.
The biggest challenge with creating a service that has the potential to be used globally is understanding the many different laws, technological advances, and general cultural variations in communities across the world. The way language can be interpreted, and access and influence of the media can vary massively in different locations, as does the reach and general access to media channels. We are learning all the time about the development of the business, as well as global politics, law, and technical infrastructure.
If you have an idea, don’t overthink it, just go out and do it! Find out what you need to know and focus on getting it to market. If people don’t take to it, forget it, and move on. The most important thing is that you try.
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