Variety

Piping hot news and in your palm, too

Siddhant Mishra | Updated on December 29, 2014 Published on December 29, 2014

Trending stories: (from left) Tushar Cheulkar, Chief Technology Officer; Vinay Anand, Co-Founder & CEO; Natasha Agarwal, Operations In-Charge; Preyansh Vora, Product Head; and Siddharth Goliya, Co-Founder, Pipes,

Mumbai-based entrepreneurs develop an app, Pipes, that customises news of your choice



In the era of online media, news reading has gone digital. There is an information overload with multiple sources providing news. While news consumption has become unlimited, it has also become cluttered. This is where Pipes, a news app developed by a team of Mumbai-based entrepreneurs, makes the difference.

Vinay Anand, Co-Founder and CEO, Pipes, says, “There is always the wish to get only the news that ‘we want’ about someone, something that we love.” Pipes is the app for people who want to customise the news updates that they get.

The app lets users select ‘pipes’, or topics they wish to follow. For example, if the users want to follow a football team, a leader, a business house or a celebrity, they get all updates around the world about only that person or subject. “Our intention is not to compete with the mainstream media. In fact, it is the media that provides what we serve to the users,” Vinay adds.

Features

The app does not update the news from Google, according to him. The company has Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in two APIs (application programming interface) – ‘Bread’ that draws the news feeds, and ‘Toast’ that summarises the news for easy reading. Users get push notifications as alerts about the latest on the topic they follow.

Siddharth Goliya, Co-Founder, says, “The push notifications are based on the location, and are time zone-specific. This is to ensure the user does not get disturbed at odd hours with notifications.”

This app provides the option of choosing between getting trending top stories and news about the followed ‘pipes’. News sourced from Twitter, too, is available.

“The idea is basically to be a one-stop shop. One need not visit a business website for financial news and a Page 3 website for entertainment news. You get all the news on a single platform,” says Goliya.

Pipes has over one lakh users globally in 46 countries, with close to 95,000 of them from the sub-continent.

Revenue model

Given the response it got on the iOS App Store and Android Play Store, the company has monetised it by leasing out the API ‘Toast’. There are three clients to whom it has been leased out, and the company is looking for funds. The basic function of the ‘Toast’ is to clear the clutter on the news space, which refers to advertisements and promotional videos. Only the news should be visible for reading sans distractions, says Vinay.

The venture, they say, started with a capital of ₹5 lakh, from their previous venture Doodle Creatives.

“As of now, our funding remains on the lines of leasing Toast and charging royalty. However, we will look for other sources, when the time comes,” says Goliya.

Goliya and Vinay are management graduates from Mumbai, who were keen on entrepreneurship since college days.

The idea struck them, according to Vinay, because of their passion for the internet. They were not particular about a news app, but the “dire need to personalise news they get”.

Therefore, they had always been keen on starting something on the web platform.

Earlier ventures

Vinay, then 17, and Goliya, then 21, started Food for India, an online food ordering portal in 2011, with a team of 17 interns. The venture tanked as it could not generate funds. The duo then started Doodle Creatives, a digital solutions company, with the funds they had left over from their earlier business. “We had a great web design at the time, it was unique and it’s exactly what got us business. Doodle’s numbers in a matter of months shot through the roof, we recovered everything we lost with FFI and were back on our feet,” he says.

Doodle was a stable venture that provided an enriching experience in working on websites, back-end software and apps. However, deep down, it was never something the duo really loved, they say. Then came Blood Seva, a social enterprise, which too did not take off. Following this, Pipes was born. “I count myself lucky to have been part of three businesses by 21 and having my fourth rolling along,” says Vinay.

Published on December 29, 2014
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