In their own words!
Here’s what I did, I started with ₹0.
On July 17th 2015, my friend (and now my co-founder)calls me up in the morning and tells me about an idea he had about starting a monthly magazine specifically targeting students at schools in Patna. We both were in class 10th that time and were running a news-blog since one year. Both of us were equally interested in topics like Politics, Foreign Affairs, Sports and used to watch and consume a lot of related content. But, we felt that a lot of folks in the school didn’t know much about these topics so the best way to get the content to them would be to start a magazine in the school. Funny fact is that our own articles were never published in the annual school magazine and the only way we had a chance to get our articles published was to have our own magazine.
So, as soon as I heard the idea of the magazine, I contacted one more friend of ours (Pranav Shekhar) and we started working on the content the same day. By evening, we had the content ready and Pranav got some pages of the magazine printed somehow so, me and Shashwat didn’t have to spend money on that.
Now, the plan was to print the magazine in ₹15 and sell it at ₹20. That way, on each piece we’d get a profit of ₹5. But, you can’t start commercial activities within school and without the school knowing about it. So, the biggest challenge in front of us now was to get our Principal’s permission for this. We had some pages of the magazine printed and by the next day one more friend of ours (Shambhavi) joined our team. So, Shambhavi, Pranav and Shashwat went to the Principal and the meeting went for about 10 mins. I was nervous as hell. Post the meeting, these people came rushing towards me and said that the Principal liked the idea and gave the approval.
We quickly, told this to our class teacher Biswajeet sir, because he was very supportive of students who were doing something different than normal. We made the announcement in all four sections of class 10 in our school regarding the magazine, the price and asked if anybody wanted to contribute towards the content.
But between Aug 1 to 8 , our formative assessments began and since this was our class 10th, we had to pause our work for that period. Once, the exams ended, we started working on the mag again.
What happened next was the biggest thing to ever happen to our magazine in terms of money. Our English teacher Anita ma’am came to know about the magazine and at the end of her class said casually to us about that why don’t we get advertisers to advertise on our magazine. I knew that advertisements were a big thing but was not sure if advertisers would advertise on a student magazine and that also run by class 10th students.
The next period, both me and Shashwat didn’t pay attention to what was being taught. Instead, we brainstormed during that class that who can be the best people who could benefit from our target audience. We finalized that since class 10th students would go to class 11th next year and given that Patna is a place where students as well as parents are mad at getting their wards into IITs or Medical colleges, we felt that the coaching institutes would be the best people who we can approach to advertise on our magazine.
The same day evening, we went to the coaching institutes and were rejected by 3 institutes within one hour. We then went to Resonance and the meeting went for about half an hour and we got the confirmation that they would be advertising. However, we gave them the cheapest price and this incident taught us that you should get the first customer at any cost because that opens the other doors for you. The amount that we got for was good but wasn’t enough to cover the printing costs.
We had to come-up with some strategy to get the other coaching people also to run the magazine profitably. And then I had this eureka moment. Given that these coaching people are highly competitive, I thought why not lie in-front of these people that their competitor was advertising on our magazine. I knew this was unethical but it worked. As soon as we started doing this, every big coaching was advertising with us. We got Narayana, Allen, Mentors Eduserv, Vision Classes, Resonance as our advertisers.
What did it take for us to get the deal? Nothing much, just this color printed cover that we got printed for free through Shambhavi and the magazine we showed was in PDF format.
We distributed the magazine free for two months as we had enough money to sustain and getting the eyeballs that time was more important.
We even got featured in leading newspapers and on a funny note, I once said to my mother that I’ll be featured in a newspaper before class 10th ends.
Now, coming onto the financial aspects. I can’t give details on how much we got from each advertiser. But the overall revenues were ₹78,000 and profits were ₹50000. The profits were invested in our own company.
Now what did we learn and earn?
B2B sales experience, patience, the printing business and most importantly Leadership and being responsible.
All of this, no school or college could ever teach you. No part of the profits were used for our personal enjoyment. Rather, we invested all of it into learning more about business.
Not every business could be started with ₹10 but people who are obsessed would find some or the other way to fund their dreams.