How LBB Gained Tag Of The Reliable City-Guide?
Suchita Salwan, founder of Little Black Book (LBB)– a curated cultural and lifestyle guide for Delhi, Bangalore and Gurgaon residents tells us what inspired her venture and where she hopes to go from here.
Welcome to SHEROES. Tell us a little about yourself and how the idea of Little Black Book came about?
I started LBB in 2012, while I was working with BBC. As a young, working adult, with a decent paycheck, I found it extremely difficult to stay in the know of things that were happening in Delhi. Listings were cumbersome, not regularly updated… functional, but so boring. For me, LBB was a way to document all that I loved discovering in Delhi and hoping that through all the amazing things I found, I could inspire people to step out and discover Delhi using my recommendations.
After graduating with a degree in Economics, I’d worked with Wizcraft on the Opening & Closing ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games, as a part of which I managed around 14,000 people, and learned from the best in the event space. Working on events gives you a really good perspective on what it takes to WOW a user- and get them out of their homes to experience something they otherwise never would’ve. Post Wiz, I joined the BBC to work with a 2-member Marketing Department (my boss and I) on the launch of BBC Entertainment India. This job was exceptional in making me understand the value of processes and how good programming/content goes a long way. I quit working with the BBC to work on LBB full time towards the end of 2012 and have been at it since.
From inception till now, tell us about the Entrepreneurial Journey
The journey has been very rewarding- personally as well. From finding a great co-founder to learning from some of the best angel investors, advisors and entrepreneurs- LBB's given me a chance to not just build a business, but also build a network of people who've taught me a lot.
As a team, our collective best moments are in hearing our readers give us feedback on LBB. Especially around the app- we've worked so hard to take a massive set of content pieces and make its consumption simpler for our users. It's the best feeling to hear users tell us about all the awesome places/stores/restaurants they've found on LBB. Of course, having a 70% inbound advertising rate, and 60% repeat advertisers is the best indication of how we impact the brands we work with.
In terms of funding the initial operations, how did you manage?
The initial 2 years (2013, 2014) were tough- in the sense, we were bootstrapping through those years, and taking minimal revenue and investing in our product. But what we learned about the content and digital business at large is unparalleled. I spent a lot of time with small and medium scale enterprises in Delhi to understand where the gap lies in terms of consumer reach vis a vis brands. Being able to understand both sides of the spectrum- user interests and brand outreach- has helped shaped our product considerably.
What future plans/objectives do you have for LBB?
We want urban consumers, globally, to decide what to do with Little Black Book.
Even in its genesis, LBB's always sought to be the platform that makes you search less and do more. Key features that are we're rolling out in Q1 of 2016 will include personalisation (so each user has a feed that's unique, and aligned with their interests), adding more contributors to LBB so you have more content to access, and closing the consumption loop- so you don't need to go to more pages to access the "thing to do".
Of course, we want every major city in India to have a Little Black Book- and you'll see us in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi & Gurgaon by the end of the upcoming year.
What differentiates LBB from other players like Time Out, Brown Paper Bag, etc?
I think the big differences are:
a. Ours is content backed by technology. Tech plays a big role in our approach to product and business, and the reason we've been able to grow exponentially over the course of the past 6 months is a function of how we've integrated tech in our content sourcing and brand outreach.
b. We cover a "things to do" holistically; LBB's only about where to eat or what event to attend. We look at "things to do" as a category that covers lifestyle, shopping, activities, travel and more. This gives users a reason to come back to us again and again, as we help them decide what to do, across their areas of interest.
A few thoughts to leave our readers with?
Always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and/or have a domain expertise in an area that's complementary to yours. It's an education like no other- it's the best thing I have done for myself.