Sree Vijaykumar, the founder of Indian startup TradeBriefs, has turned an email newsletter business into a bonafide startup with big upside potential. Some may think that email newsletters are old school, and that in this age of mobile first startups and apps, apps and more apps, how could there possibly be room at the 500 startups lair for an email newsletter startup?
TradeBriefs is in the current class at 500startups so obviously there’s more than meets the eye with these email newsletters.
“We have managed to silence our naysayers. People didn’t think an email newsletter business could thrive, but we have successfully demonstrated that our formula works.. Our subscribers and advertisers are both happy, which is great and now we are ready to scale.” Vijaykumar told us in an interview. Scaling is what they are focusing on while they are in Mountain View participating in the 500 startups accelerator program.
TradeBriefs is part human editor and part learning algorithm. They say that their newsletters are helping professionals in their concentrated fields become industry experts.
TradeBriefs began with an industry newsletter for India’s retail industry and quickly expanded to four other verticals including; Telecom, Finance, IT and FMCG. They are planning on adding verticals and expanding out of India.
In the US, Fierce has been able to make a viable business out of email newsletters, turned into websites, within the tech industry. Now, in addition to their websites, and newsletters Fierce also hosts major industry events in the telecom, mobile and tech industries. Is it possible for TradeBriefs to do the same thing? Obviously 500 Startups thinks so.
Check out the rest of our interview with Vijaykumar below.
What is Tradebriefs?
TradeBriefs is a daily email newsletter service that helps professionals become industry experts. We interpret the top industry news of the day and provide insight and jobs in personalized industry newsletters. The combination of human editing and a learning algorithm that gets smarter over time makes our newsletters particularly valuable. Currently we have 400,000 subscribers in India and are working on upcoming Indian and international editions.
In layman’s terms, how does it work? (In other words how would you explain it to your grandmother)
Daily email newsletters that help you become an expert over time. Our combination of technology and human editors make sure that the newsletters have the most relevant and useful information for you, the subscriber.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Sree Vijaykumar. I was a Retail consultant for 6 years, did 1 year of business school (Columbia) and dropped out to start the venture. The first newsletter service we started was for Retail, which added subscribers and advertisers rapidly. We then proved the model with 4 other industries – Telecom, Finance, IT and FMCG and the plan is to keep adding verticals and geographies where we see potential..
Where are you based?
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
The startup scene in India is vibrant, although the eco-system needs to evolve a lot more.. It is not easy for entrepreneurs to meet the right advisors and investors, so a lot of businesses end up either dying prematurely or becoming small lifestyle businesses. This is changing rapidly though.. Thanks to social media and an active startup community, good ideas and smart entrepreneurs are getting ahead.
How did you come up with the idea for TradeBriefs?
We landed on this business by accident. The original idea was to start Retail training centres. We had started IndiaRetailNews.com just as a place to keep track of all things Retail.. That eventually evolved into TradeBriefs where we do this for multiple industries now and it is extremely popular..
How did you come up with the name?
The name was just a logical extension of what we were doing which was sending out briefs about various industries.. Sorry, no fun story here.
What problem does TradeBriefs solve?
TradeBriefs gives every professional the opportunity to become an industry expert. By creating a community of industry-focused people and providing a daily dose of news and knowledge, we are helping aspirational professionals rise up in their career faster through a focus on industry learning.
What’s your secret sauce?
The secret sauce is best kept secret. Well, if you really want to know, it’s our passion for the industries we cover.. Apart from our efficient curation technology platform, the passion of our editors for the industries they cover is what keeps the content engaging and valuable to our readers..
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
We were bootstrapped to begin with, then raised angel money from 500 Startups and are planning to raise more money shortly..
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
Our mentors here include Mike Greenfield (Circle of Moms, LinkedIn, Paypal), Khailee Ng (Says.com) and Benjamin Joffe (Mr Asia)
What’s next for Tradebriefs?
To help every professional in the world become an industry expert..