Read news of your choice: NewsDog targets 100 mn users by the year-end

Representative Image
Forrest Chen, a Tsinghua University graduate, while visiting rural areas around Gurugram a few years ago with Yi Ma, a Princeton University graduate, noticed that though a lot of people there used smartphones, theydepended on newspapers even for entertainment content.

“That’s when we realised there is a gap, which we are trying to fill. They were relying on the traditional media, mostly because of the lack of vernacular content (in news apps),” said Chen, founder of Newsdog, a mobile-based news and entertainment aggregator platform.

NewsDog founder Forrest Chen
Founded in 2015, NewsDog has recently raised $50 million in Series C funding, led by global internet company Tencent. DHVC, Legend Capital and Dotc United Group also participated in the round.

NewsDog’s latest fundraising counts as one of the largest in the Indian digital content industry.

“NewsDog combines its leading technical capabilities with a deep pool of entertainment content to provide Indian users with a personalised experience. We look forward to supporting NewsDog to become India's favourite online entertainment platform,” said Forest Lin, managing partner of Tencent Investments. 

Product concept

The company is trying cater for the exponentially booming need for mobile content in the country. It focuses on providing personalised content for users in Tier II cities of India.

“Traditional media is slowly becoming redundant and we are all moving toward digital, and thus we believe we are in a good position, especially in a country like India," said the founder.

The company has also launched a content platform, WeMedia, allowing users to submit content. There are more than 30,000 writers contributing contents regularly. The app already collates articles in English and 10 Indian languages.

NewsDog relies heavily on adopting machine-learning technologies to predict the content that would of interest to users.

“On one hand, we provide a platform for people to contribute unique content. On the other, the more the users engage with that content, the more the platform knows their interests and shows them what they might be more interested to consume,” Chen said. 

NewsDog co-founder Yi Ma
Opportunities 

According to Chen, “India is a multi-culture nation with a huge population. At the same time, it is a developing country where a majority of people have more time than money, and thus, content is the best medium for users to engage heavily for a long time. There is a rapid adoption of smartphones that the country is presently seeing, and thus the market is huge."

Road Ahead

NewsDog claims that it ranks first in the news category on Google Play (India) with over 50 million users. All smartphone users in Tier II cities fall under the company’s target audience. 

“We aim to fulfil their news and entertainment needs. We currently have 50 million users on the platform and plan to double it by the end of this year,” he said.

With the data consumption boom, the company is also planning to introduce image and video content.

The plan is to have a larger percentage of video and image content as compared to text by the end of this year.

Revenue 

The news aggregator app generates revenue mostly by advertisement. 

The company had earlier raised more than $10 million in separate funding rounds. 

“After the new round of financing, the company’s expansion plans will focus on two aspects — one is to create a dynamic content platform for users by adding more regional languages, and the other is to constantly buttress our technical capabilities in order to provide users with a more personalized experience,” said Yi Ma, co-founder and chief operating officer of NewsDog.

Expert Take: 'The real opportunity lies in Tier II and III cities'

The Indian internet landscape offers major opportunities for news and entertainment content aggregators, considering the population density and diversity. 

The real opportunity lies in Tier II and III cities where data infrastructure is improving everyday and content consumption/need is growing exponentially. 

Over the last few years, we have seen both content companies like ScoopWhoop, Indiatimes and Scroll, and content aggregators like Dailyhunt, inshorts, Sharechat and more recently NewsDog scale massively. 

For content aggregators to do well, they need a large repository of content across different categories and languages, which then needs to be personalised to user's taste and reading habits.

NewsDog seems to be doing well on both the fronts and with the latest fundraising, they should be able to drive adoption at a faster pace.

Aggregators that are going to reach more than 200 million MAUs (monthly active users) early will come out as winners.

Unlike the pure content play, the aggregator model is a winner-takes-it-all model.

It'll be interesting to see how quickly NewsDog is able to scale, especially in a market where big players that have raised large capital already exist.

-Sattvik Mishra, Co-Founder & CEO, ScoopWhoop Media Pvt Ltd

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