Ahmedabad-based Tech30 startup Matrubharti acts as a self-publishing platform for budding authors and allows users to download high-quality content in Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi.
The right-brain-versus-left-brain conundrum may sound plausible to a lot of people but for the founders of Matrubharti, a Tech30 company, it’s a happy marriage between the two.
Mahendra Sharma and Darshan Jani are both computer engineers but their shared love for literature with Nilesh Shah led to the founding of Matrubharti, a multilingual e-publishing platform that mainly concentrates on regional content in Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi.
Mahendra calls himself an engineer by profession and a poet by passion. “I have been writing poems since my school days but did not pursue a writing career because it is not considered a ‘secure’ option. But that did not stop me from networking with poets and writers. I saw an opportunity in giving them a platform to publish their work, and that’s how Matrubharti was born,” he says.
“Technology was our forte, we had a passion for literature and we saw a gap that could be filled. Matrubharti helps authors and content creators to self-publish regional content,” explains Darshan.
On the other hand, the portal also provides free, high quality content to readers who don’t have enough resources to access paid content.
“We started in 2015, and in three years, we have over 40 lakh story pieces downloaded in Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi. We are slowly expanding into other languages as well,” he adds. The ebooks are available in various categories such as fiction, non-fiction, biographies, philosophy, motivational essays, etc. It is also the place to buy the most popular classic collection from legendary authors.
Matrubharti banks on user and content acquisition. However, there are no subscription charges. What about revenue, then? “We are like LinkedIn in this matter. We don’t charge anything for user access but if a corporate entity or organisation wants to post jobs and need that extra something, then they have to pay. Value added services will cost extra,” says Darshan.
These “extra services” include sponsored content, proof-reading and ghost-writing, which are popular revenue-generators for Matrubharti. So far, their experts have ghost-written over 400 books.
Also on the anvil are tie-ups and partnerships with college festivals and cultural events. This will increase the network base and also attract more users to the platform. There are plans to launch videos too. “These are different models we have tested, but to launch them, we need more funding,” says Mahendra. The company is still bootstrapped with an initial seed funding from a Singapore-based investment firm.
To be published under the platform, writers need to sign up and submit their content, which is then verified and approved by the editorial team. The approved content is then converted into an ebook format with a cover page and uploaded to the server for consumption.
Through the MatruBharti app (available on both Android and iOS), readers can get notifications about the newly uploaded books. The app boasts of 2,50,000 downloads so far.
Matrubharti has a team of nine with Darshan in charge of strategy and product development and Mahendra concentrating mostly on tech. The immediate aim is to raise funding, which will hopefully put their plans into action.
“The traction is amazing. Out of the three lakh registered and verified users, we have found that typically a user spends more than 21 minutes on our platform. More than four million books and stories were also downloaded. This speaks volumes about the quality of our content. We also have popular authors like Devdutt Pattanaik and elite Gujarati authors whose episodic novels are all the rage,” Darshan explains.
Matrubharti is in the right place at the right time. With India having a largely young population who are mobile-friendly, good quality content on the go is an attractive proposition. And yes, this one does not come at a price, either.