“The change in perception, from money being something that overwhelms us to talking about it, and being more aware, is what we aim to drive.”
Shantanu Jain (Co-Founder, ReadOn)
Coming from a typical middle-class Marwari family, Shantanu grew up watching more of CNBC than Cartoon Network. He was always ultra-curious to know how much money the Kirana Store owner or the tuition teacher in his locality made. This passion to understand businesses and stock markets deeply led him to pursue Chartered Accountancy as a profession. After completing his articleship, he joined Swiggy as a Finance Management Trainee. In his two years with the fast-growing startup, he learned how to scale up a business. He finally took the plunge in January 2021 and started building ReadOn.
ReadOn is an online media brand that makes business news fun and interesting. The aim is to make the average Gen Z financially literate. One of the core values of ReadOn is urgency in efforts and patience in results. From being obsessed with targets to just enjoying the process and patiently waiting for results has kept the startup true to its core. It saves the company from using hacky and click-bait ways to increase the audience, and helps it deliver high-quality content. What also helps is the fact that their readers can talk back via ReadOn’s WhatsApp channel. Shantanu personally handles all incoming queries and solves them at the earliest possible
WHAT MAKES READON UNIQUE IN THE MARKET?
One of the unique aspects of ReadOn is that it has been able to gain traction and be consistent since its inception without spending a penny on marketing or customer acquisition. Other than this, it has a unique way of curating the top updates in a day, where ReadOn doesn’t just summarise the news but explains what’s the context, why something is happening, and what will be its implications (context + insight). And all of this in less than 100 words.
ReadOn helps college students and young professionals save time and effort in scavenging through the internet to find good reads around business and finance. It handpicks the most relevant content, takes a deep dive to ensure all facts are in line (with the kind of fake news that floats around), and presents it in a fun and eye-pleasing format.
It ensures that the write-ups are free of jargon and in plain English so that people from a non-core finance or business background can also understand the concepts easily. The company also offers cohort-based learning communities to help young professionals engage and network with their peers around specific interest areas (like Foodtech, Blockchain, etc). They clock around 1.5mn impressions per month across social media channels.
The biggest opportunity for ReadOn is to be able to leverage tech in making Indians financially literate at scale. With fintech companies commoditizing financial products, the space is getting cluttered and more complex for a layperson to navigate. What’s missing is:
- An easy-to-understand resource bank to explain the modern way to approach personal finance and
- A regular, reliable source as a go-to for any finance-related query.
This is where the role of ReadOn comes in. It offers a refreshing way to stay in touch with business and finance updates.
MISSION AND VISION OF THE COMPANY
Shantanu, while mentioning the mission and vision of ReadOn says, “Our vision is to bring business and finance conversations to chai-addas and dinner tables. It’s just sad that we still shy away from talking about money with our parents, siblings, or kids. Every human needs to have a good relationship with their health and money to have an overall good quality of life. While we are super-quick to act and take corrective action when it comes to our health, money talks take a backseat. This change in perception, from money being something that overwhelms us to talking about it, being more aware, is what we aim to drive. And over the next 5 years, we aim to create an impact in the lives of at least 10 million Indians.”
ReadOn is obsessed with two core values:
- Urgency in efforts, patience in results: There are no slackers, and everybody is laser-focused on getting the process right. Results are just that: a result of our hard work on the process.
- Be passionately curious, always ask why: ReadOn believes in what Fredrich Nietzsche has said, “If you know the ‘why’, you can bear any ‘how’.”
The company believes that when the team leads with curiosity, the quality of output increases drastically. It has received appreciation from its readers when someone on the team went absolutely berserk, and dove deep into something weird just to satiate their curiosity. ReadOn tries and helps to keep that passion alive via regular and free-flowing brainstorming sessions.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACED BY THE COMPANY
For ReadOn, the biggest challenge was to get consistency going while maintaining the quality of content without increasing fixed costs. It took the startup around 2-3 months to figure out the best process that was beneficial for both readers as well as employees. Yavantika, the Co-Founder of the company, deserves all the credit for making it as smooth as it is today. Shantanu proudly says, “We have one of the fastest turn-around times for any high-quality media operations in India.”
ADVICE FOR UPCOMING STARTUPS
When asked what advice he would like to give to upcoming startups, he said, “Build a culture doc from Day 0. Know what kind of person you are, what values you would want to amplify in your organization, and spend time on communicating it, and adhering to it. You can fix a bad product, but not a bad culture.”
DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
Shantanu quotes the last 4 lines of Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to define the meaning of success:
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
He says “I don’t know what “there” is yet, is it us impacting the lives of 10 million? 20 million? A 100 million? I don’t have a destination. I just know the path and direction and we will keep walking down that road, as long as we can.”