MediaBrief’s Riyaan Shaikh caught up with Vidya Narayanan, a veteran in context-aware computing, CEO and Co-founder of Rizzle. Narayanan has championed Google’s effort on building the dedicated context hub – hardware running highly optimized algorithms for efficient sensing. She also played an advisory role in building the context engine that powered the original Moto X.
In this interview she spoke to us about how Rizzle was launched, what sets it apart, how Rizzle has been supporting content creators, its future plans and more.
Riyaan Shaikh: How did you come up with the idea of Rizzle, and from an idea to an app what were the challenges that you overcame?
Vidya Narayana: Rizzle originated from the idea that video platforms have been a one-way; someone puts out a video and the community watching comments. However, there didn’t exist a means for people to have discussions at scale like you can with, say, Reddit.
To cite another example, if you’re doing an Instagram Live, one or two people are talking and the rest write comments in real-time, the scope for response reduces even more with an increase in viewers. We identified a gap in the market. There was no community of video interactions anywhere. And so we set out to bring video discussions into the hands of hundreds of thousands of people.
You could say that was the fundamental premise of our app. And since, we have brought forth channels and episodic content to allow creators to compartmentalize their content. On inspection, you will notice several creators have a response channel, exclusively meant for responding to other creators’ videos and prompts. We have several creators who maintain five or six or ten different channels. Picking up the cue, we then went ahead to build a binge-watching feed.
What are the different features that Rizzle offers that are unique to its platform?
Short vertical content has been explored by other apps in the past, but Rizzle is different. It’s focused squarely on original, user-generated episodic content, which nobody else is doing in the space. Vertical series presents a new outlook towards the world of web series – one that is custom-built for video consumption for phones.
With 150+ series already available on the app, Rizzle Series has already been making large strides in bringing short episodic content to your phone. With Rizzle Studios, we’ve made free Acting and Dance classes accessible to everyone and anyone who wishes to better their craft.
Another thing that sets Rizzle apart from the other short video apps is the video-to-video response. While most of the other platforms allow for comment-based interaction, at Rizzle we only support video responses to fellow creators and that’s one of the steps that we’re taking towards creating a positive, uplifting entertainment space.
What was Rizzle’s communication strategy in the initial phase of the launch?
Initially, our communication strategy was built around the creator community at Rizzle which allows creators to interact with each other via video responses, correspond via our collabs feature, and of course, sponsor each other’s channels. Our current communication strategy has evolved, but we still stay true to these basics.
Tell us about Rizzle’s ‘Creator-focus’ philosophy and how it helps content creators?
Since day one, our focus has been on our creators. At our core, we believed in a platform that allowed everyone to get visibility based on the content they’re producing; unlike other saturated platforms where only the really popular creators will be successful because they have an established following.
We built Rizzle with one overarching goal in mind: to provide an entire ecosystem of support and resources necessary for users to create original series. With our Rizzle Studios venture, we’re helping up skill creators through free virtual workshops for acting and dance. We’re focused on making regular creators the internet’s next stars.
Rizzle helps content creators in generating revenue, tell us about that and how does that model work?
There are equal monetization opportunities available to all creators at Rizzle through our in-app sponsorship model. By creating 30 videos, a channel can be upgraded to premium status which then enables the audience to sponsor it. With three tiers of premium silver, gold, and platinum, fans who like the content can choose to sponsor a channel at any of these levels from 99 cents for three months to $2.00 a month.
The sponsorships are structured for micropayments that are affordable to the masses and function as a voluntary gesture of support from the audience without any pay wall. All Rizzle content is available to everyone.
Furthermore, Rizzle hosts contests that are open to everyone on the platform. Apart from elevating creativity, they act as a fun way to make some extra bucks. We recently also introduced bounties on our app where creators can get rewarded for achieving milestones with their videos on music tracks.
How has Rizzle revolutionized content consumption for audiences?
With the availability of data on smart phones, people have access to a variety of content. Rizzle brings the next evolution in video – short, vertical series. 10-12 minute series that are custom made for consumption on one’s mobile phones on the go.
One need not spend hours and days binging series by purchasing special subscription packages. On Rizzle, you can binge entertaining shows and series for free in less than 15 minutes.
Going forward, what are Rizzle’s plans for growth and expansion?
Our focus has always been on constant product innovation and it is still the same. We plan on introducing several user-friendly features. Recently, we introduced licensed music after partnering with globally acclaimed labels such as Sony Music Entertainment and Aditya Music on the app to help our creators in producing world-class content that has the potential to break the internet with its originality and concept.
What are some trends in this space that we should look out for in the future?
Rizzle Series. Watch out for this. We’re venturing into a very promising short series space that hasn’t been explored before. A lot of people are using their time to experiment and explore their creativity with videos. So we’re also expecting more creator support programs to rise in the near future, ones similar to our Rizzle Studios venture.
Bite-size content like dance and lip-sync videos are always going to stay relevant, so we can expect more licensing deals between short video apps and music labels similar to our partnerships with Sony Music Entertainment, Sound stripe, and Aditya Music.