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Mitron is one year old today. After having spent most of last year braving controversy and building the brand from scratch, Mitron – India’s own TikTok rival – is ready to start a new journey. The platform is now open for business.
On its first anniversary, Mitron is launching a slew of new creator-focused initiatives with the vision to help build micro-entrepreneurs. Financial Express Online caught up with CEO Shivank Agarwal and CTO Anish Khandelwal to discuss Mitron’s journey so far and all that’s coming in future.
FE: What are some of the key findings, experiences, and learning that you have gained in the last one year as a brand?
Shivank: The Indian market is evolving rapidly and as a brand, we must remain aggressive in our approach and adapt quickly to build and improve the product. Our team strength has increased from 2 in 2020 to 56 in 2021 spreading across verticals right from tech, product, to operations. On the technology side, we have been bringing a lot of improvement to our existing infrastructure. We have introduced many features in the product and on the business side, we have been experimenting with a lot of tools for monetisation for creators. Mitron has also ventured into many government partnerships during this period.
FE: Can you tell us more about the growth in terms of your user base?
Shivank: Our current user base stands at 50 million (on Android) out of which 22 percent are creators who have posted more than two videos on the platform. This is a very healthy number. The engagement time which is the average session duration per user has increased to 10 minutes as compared to 5-6 minutes about 6 months back.
FE: What are some of the changes you have implemented?
Anish: On an average, the videos on our platform are of 15-20 seconds and users want to view them seamlessly. We have been working towards improving our video compression and rendering capabilities as a result of which less than 5 percent of our users suffer from this (buffering) issue from an industry average of 10 percent. We also have a recommendation engine in place, due to which the session time of the user has increased. The recommendation engine gives enough views to each video uploaded on the platform and can automatically boost the videos basis their performance and make them go viral irrespective of the user who has uploaded the video. We have introduced a new feature called opinions, wherein anybody can talk and share their opinions on different subjects including politics, cricket, and Bollywood. We have observed a 2X increase in interactions on our platform through likes and follows and around 3X increase through comments. Additionally, we have also introduced an Editor Tool, which removes the dependency of creators on other video editor apps. The tool supports unique features like PIP, sound modulations, transitions along with effects, more than 100 filters, stickers etc. To increase the engagement of creators with the consumers, we have created a live stream option as well.
FE: How is the traction region-wise and what kind of content is more popular on the platform?
Shivank: We are seeing engagement in the Hindi as well as non-Hindi speaking belts. We have seen a good penetration from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, and Assam. We are also increasing our reach into the South Indian states as well. Our userbase for the top 3 states is:
- Maharashtra: 10 million
- Uttar Pradesh: 7 million
- Gujarat: 5.7 Million.
Mitron is more focused on infotainment and edutainment content and we have seen users engaging more with content around entertainment and dance. However, currently, we are seeing engagement around a lot of different topics.
FE: How much of this content revolves around the topics of elections and COVID?
Shivank: Fortunately for us, this type of content is getting created organically. The election has become one of the talking points on our platform. One of the popular websites “Jan Ki Baat” has opened an exclusive official account on Mitron and they are pushing content around elections on the platform.
With regards to COVID, we have launched a new campaign – #VirusToVaccine in a bid to dispel existing myths about the vaccine. With the launch of this campaign, the app has introduced a live streaming feature – “Live Samvaad”, which will see a panel of doctors addressing queries and increasing awareness about vaccination. The campaign allows the panel of doctors to conduct weekly live sessions to educate users about the importance of vaccination, accurate information surrounding the vaccine drive and busting myths.
FE: Can you talk a little bit about your government partnerships?
Shivank: MyGov is very active on Mitron and we recently did a partnership with them to take the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Pariksha Pe Charcha” initiative Live and we saw good traction around it. The government is engaging with us, however, one needs to understand that frequency of video creation is less than texting or tweeting. The government wants to engage with us via different programs and in the times to come we will see a lot more departments of the government coming onboard.
FE: How many languages are currently supported by Mitron and are there any plans to expand on that front?
Shivank: In terms of content, we currently support 13 languages. We are currently working on app translation and will most probably have it available in this quarter for all the 13 languages wherein the user can choose their preferred languages to browse through the platform. The idea is to go bullish about showing content that is relevant to states or geography.
FE: Can you take us through some of your monetisation plans?
Shivank: For the creator to have a deeper engagement with their viewers, we are launching Mitron Club wherein the consumer can pay a nominal fee of Rs 99/ per month and become a part of the entire ecosystem of the creator. In line with Mitron’s vision of creating micro-entrepreneurs, the app gives creators a unique opportunity to create engaging content exclusively for users opting for the service. Moreover, the Club members can directly connect with their favourite creators and request to create content that they would like to view. We have also introduced two more unique initiatives – Mitron Academy and Mitron On-Demand for our users. Through Mitron Academy, the creators get an opportunity to share educational videos to help users learn from the platform. Additionally, with Mitron On-Demand, users will be able to place requests for on-demand content like – astrology reading, song dedication, tips and hacks, birthday wishes, amongst others.
FE: What partnerships do you have in terms of sharing of the cost and what is the pricing model?
Shivank: Currently, the whole idea is to work very closely with the creator to finalise things like pricing, content etc. In the longer run, the creator should define their own pricing model. Right now, the pricing model is set by the creator in consultation with us. Our revenue share is currently 30:70. So, 70 percent goes to the creator and the platform receives 30 percent.
FE: How have you built on the privacy and data retention aspects in the last one year?
Anish: Mitron’s belief is that an Indian audience should be served by a home-grown app, with data firmly secured on Indian servers. We are very serious about privacy and terms of service for the platform, and it is in our DNA to be transparent with the consumers. We notify the users even if we are capturing minute information. Once they create or upload content, they can control the visibility setting for it. The user can choose who they want to show their content to, they can also keep it private or make it available only to friends or make it public. Only when they make the content visible to the public does it go through our recommendation engine to become viral.
FE: Can you tell us how much moderation was made in the last one year? How many requests did you receive and then how much flagged content it was removed eventually?
Anish: Any video, even if it is live, goes through the moderation channels and there is a manual queue as well as automated queue. Every content goes through the automated queue. We associate a risk factor with the user and if there is a new user who is creating a platform and if there is any flag raised by the AI, it goes through the manual queue. Once the risk factor of the user decreases and the confidence score increases on the platform, it may skip the manual queue, but it does go through the automated queue and the content is only exposed to a few users. If there is any content reported at that point, then it goes through the manual queue. On the moderation front, of the percentage of the videos which get removed daily, we see around 1 to 2 percent of the videos which do not fit the community guidelines and get taken off the platform every day. We do not allow political content, hate speech or if someone is performing some dangerous stunts. We do iterations a couple of times in a month to ensure that our moderating system remains relevant to the need.
FE: What are some of your plans going forward?
Shivank: In the next six months, our aim is to add 100 million (overall) users to the platform. From an engagement perspective, currently its 10 minutes, but we aim to improve it by 2X which would be a very good number for Mitron.
Also Read | The story of Mitron: How the makers braved the odds to give India its own TikTok rival
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