MBAtious People - Gautham Gowri Sethuraman, Co-Founder and CMO at Knappily
Gautham Gowri Sethuraman is the Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Knappily, an award-winning news analysis app. Gautham did his MBA from IIFT, Delhi and has four years of experience in Media & Journalism, Digital Marketing and Business Development. Gautham has also written for Deccan Chronicle, Sportskeeda, The Sports Mirror and several Business Magazines.
Dear Gautham, Can you please share a bit about your back ground?
I’m a Mechanical Engineer who took to writing in his final year. I did an internship with media and journalism with Sportskeeda and The Sports Mirror. After working with a core company in a vendor management role for a year, I became a full-time sports writer with Trivone Digital Services. During this time, besides writing, I picked up important up important skills like Social Media and Search Engine Optimisation. I slowly started involving myself into marketing, which continued with my subsequent stint at Wadhwani Foundation. At WF, I was into business development, digital marketing, content management, and quality audit. Each of my jobs allowed me to wear multiple hats which have played an important role in shaping my professional career.
Given the level of penetration of smart devices and internet into our daily lives, information overloading is a concern for most of us. How Knappily differentiate itself from other news content providers while solving this issue?
It is to address this information overload that we created Knappily in the first place. The idea for the app came from my colleague and CEO Yashaswi Kumar who felt that analyzing topics in the 5W1H framework (stands for What, Why, When, Where, Who & How) will uncover everything one needs to know about a topic. Our target audience is the knowledge-hungry and time-starved people of today, which can be an average college goer or a CEO - anyone who wants to know the world better. The idea is that even if you miss breaking news most of which is mere speculation, if you’re a Knappily user, we will have you covered. Thanks to our users and the people who believed in us, we have grown organically close to 2 lakh downloads on Play Store and App Store and still have the highest-rating in our category (4.8 on Play Store).
Along with Quantity, Quality is also a pressing issue among the general news readers. How Knappily plans to ensure quality in this dark world of click-baits and bias?
At the moment, we cover around 7-8 stories a day. We hand-pick the topics. Each story we cover is called a knapp. And we cover everything from business to economy to politics to society to sports to technology. We do this through secondary research – going through credible sources that already exist. Since we aren’t in the breaking news category, we don’t feel the need to publish click-bait news. When we publish a story, our readers know what to expect out of it – a thorough analysis of a topic. It is this unspoken contract that keeps us going.
And as far as bias goes, we use the 5W1H framework to eliminate bias. The framework allows us to analyse and present views from multiple standpoints –what a policy is about, why one should be skeptical/supportive of it, when it will be rolled out, who it will impact, etc. We usually leave it to the readers to make up their mind.
With huge estimates on digital media, how you see the future of information and data handling across domains?
It's no secret that the readership of printed newspapers has been declining significantly, and people have been shifting to digital medium for consumption of news. Pocket-friendly apps are making it easier to remain up-to-date with what’s happening around the world. At the same time, we see both the print and digital media finding it challenging to monetize their content. I foresee news apps introducing a subscription-based model soon much like what we see with video streaming apps. Digital will, however, remain the future because it allows companies to achieve scale easily.
What would be your advice to MBA students/aspirants regarding the importance of being well informed on what’s happening around them?
I think it is very important for professionals to keep up with business and economic trends. This is especially true those who want to climb up the organizational hierarchy. We often consider generalists and specialists to be occupying different ends of the spectrum when it comes to learning approaches. But it is possible to be a specialist in one domain, and still have a good grasp of what’s happening around the world. If your area of interest is finance or marketing, you can still keep a tab of the industry trends and the business world as a whole.
Being a specialist might help as long as the only role one plays in an organization is within the premises of his/her specialization. But when you go up the ranks of the organisation or the technology you mastered is replaced, your specialization loses significance. This is one of the challenges employees face as they transition into managers. Being a generalist will also lend unique perspectives to one’s own area of interest.
One of the reasons I related to the idea of Knappily when Yashaswi described it to me is because an app like this could filter out the noise, and keep me knowledgeable about the things I should know. And it quickly became a go-to app for MBA aspirants over the last couple of years for it helps them become knowledgeable in current affairs quickly.
Can you brief about how your exposure to MBA helped in day to day activities of Knappily
Business is something I gradually got interested in as I entered into my professional career. For example, my second company was a start-up. And as I was managing the content for the website, I started thinking about who my ideal reader is, and how I’m planning to reach them. This made me understand concepts like segmentation and targeting intuitively. As I made similar observations, I was soon able to contribute to business decisions we made as a company.
I started laying the foundation with some online courses on Marketing and Strategy. And the MBA in International Business from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade gave me an even bigger global context.
At MBAtious, we promote a learning culture that goes beyond quant and verbal. Can you please share your ideas about “Being MBAtious”
Learning is an important part of evolving as a professional. Most of our heroes – Warren Buffet and Elon Musk - are avid learners. The next rounds after CAT/XAT/IIFT test an aspirant’s ability to stay in touch with the world around him/her. But this doesn’t end with getting admitted into a B school either.
We live in a world where access to Ivy League education is just a click away. And our learning can come from books, articles, classroom lectures, online courses, peer discussion, etc. It is up to us to make the most of these resources. One way we can go about learning is by picking our fields of interests and understanding which material is transitory and which will stand the test of time. News is transitory. Issues covered in magazines and what we cover in Knappily is less transitory than that. Then come essays and reports that are published by the likes of McKinsey, BCG, etc. Then come books and case studies.
Notice that as we go from left to right, the size of the material keeps increasing and so do our ability to see the bigger picture. As we master the ephemeral, we gain a better perspective about the transitory.