Welcome to Episode 10 of The Story of You. On the latest installment, we speak to the founder of Tickled Media, Roshni Mahtani.
Tickled Media is a Singapore head-quartered company behind media sites theAsianparent.com and AsianMoneyGuide.com. They also just raised around of US$6.7 million in funding.
Roshni talks to us about her journey of building and growing her business and community into the powerhouse it is today.
Tickled Media is also working to expand into five more media properties by the end of the year and they just launched Her Style Asia, which covers millennial punk-rock-style and fashion.
How do you generate momentum for a media site?
The first three years were experimental, and I also didn’t take a salary for the first two years. If you look at my personality or temperament, I am one who won’t give up because I want to win. I like winning. I will not sleep or eat until I win. So, [partners] were investing in my personality vs. the business.
What advice would you give to founders who are fundraising?
The first meeting I always recommend that founders do it by themselves. Test out and see if you have chemistry with the person. People are always forgiving and more personable if you are one-on-one.
Also Read: The Story of You with Homage Co-founder and CEO Gillian Tee
When you have a crew of your people speaking against a crew of their people, it immediately feels like a negotiation dance from the start. When it’s one-on-one, it’s very non-threatening.
How have you grown this community without advertising?
Overall in the last five years, we have spent between 10-15,000 USD , so not a lot of money., We have grown the community organically. Once you have a target audience that works, you treat the first 1000 people right. I would meet up with them, go for coffee and users invited me for their shower parties and I went so I could get to know my customers intimately.
Now that you have grown, can you still be considered a startup?
We are a media tech company. When we talk about ourselves, we don’t refer to ourselves as a startup. We always say we are a media tech company in the media space where we have a content and community site for women. Our culture is quite startup like. It’s nimble, agile and tries to grow 10x.
Also Read: theAsianparent.com’s owner Tickled Media raises US$6.7M to expand to Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam
The moment you know what your business model is, I don’t think you are not a startup anymore. We have a regular business model. We know exactly how we are making money. We have a playbook, we know how to launch a new portal or in a new country very easily. Everything is very prescriptive.
Why did you move to Indonesian even though your company is headquartered in Singapore?
It was primarily a business decision. I knew I would move either to Indonesian or India. I decided on Indonesia because it was close to headquarters and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. As a true Singaporean, I became very complacent and I needed to get out of this perfect bubble to realize how good my life was in Singapore and take advantage of the opportunities the developing world has to offer.
What is the secret to success in the tech media industry?
Know your customers and avatars. The avatars must be big enough. We look at it not just as hyperlocal content, but we look at it as community. The way to succeed for any media organization to succeed is to create communities and tribes. We’ve created the mummy tribe; now, we have created women in finance. And within that we have segmented them into different tribes.
What is the big vision of Tickled Media?
I care a lot about the media industry and about women. I would like to marry the two. The media seems to be hostage to other platforms right now such as Facebook and Google.
Also Read: Autonomous vehicles are coming but you won’t own one
The industry is under siege and media revenues are dropping, we are struggling. I want to prove that Asia can have good and profitable businesses that are purely media, which are not owned by government or influenced by billionaire families. One that is able to be the voice of the people.
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