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Jan 19, 2013 04:43 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18 set to expand international influence

On CNBC-TV18's special show, Young Turks, Renie Ravin, MD spoke about the Re 1 crore venture, expectations and the challenges ahead and why this free blogging platform for Indian bloggers really works.

For most of us a blog is a platform to share, to connect, to ideate and to express. Four avid bloggers decided to build a business model around blogs and today have created a Re 1 crore venture. Founded in 2007 by Renie Ravin, Anoop Johnson, Karthik DR and Vineet Rajan, ‘' is a free social networking platform and also an innovative way for brands to build their customer base.

On CNBC-TV18's special show, Young Turks, Renie Ravin, MD spoke about the Re 1 crore venture, expectations and the challenges ahead and why this free blogging platform for Indian bloggers really works.

Below is an edited transcript of Renie Ravin's interview on CNBC-TV18

What brought web architect Renie Ravin and software professionals Anoop Johnson, Karthik DR and Vineet Rajan together? Is it their love for science and technology or shared passion for computer? In this case it was their love for sharing their opinions and feelings with millions of bloggers worldwide.

Launched in August 2007, started as a free blogging platform for Indian bloggers. Here bloggers of Indian origin can meet, interact and also promote content.

Convinced that they were on to a good thing, the group quit their respective jobs to become fulltime bloggers. With a tagline ‘Indians by birth, bloggers by choice', the venture attracts 70 requests daily from various bloggers. While the team may live in four different cities Ravin reveals that their passion for blogging has bound them together.

Ravin: We all had our own jobs in various other companies when we started, we ran it for a couple of months and realised this had so much potential. We had a great response from the Indian blogging community as well. So we decided to go into it for fulltime and for a long time we ran on savings from our earlier jobs. Luckily, we got an investor, a friend of ours who invested in our company and that helped us to develop the product to a good extent.

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While fun to do something free does not bring in the money the team at had a bigger game plan to mobilise the Indian bloggers fair a virgin market. This resulted in a business plan to connect brands and bloggers to contests and blogger meets.  Studies show that less than 20 percent of netizens trust ads when compared to a 70 percent who trust peers and word of mouth recommendations.
Brands like Microsoft, Samsung, Nokia, Dell, Lakme and even Pepsi are willing to connect with bloggers who can influence the purchase decisions of their peer groups.  Having successfully executed 61 blogger meets across the country and one in New York last year, Renie believes these meets give them an edge over competition.

Ravin: What sets apart is that we want to meet everybody who is in our community, who is a part of our social network. When I say meet, I mean physically meeting them and we have done that for about one third of our entire community. We have physically gone to their cities and have met them.

No expensive video conference room for these boys when the blogs squad is not in the city, it is Google hangout to the rescue. Using the tech edge to keep bloggers wanting more, the site now has IndiVine, a chat application and Indirank, a ranking algorithm for bloggers in India. These innovations have made touch Rs 1 crore revenue this fiscal. But who are they targeting?

Ravin: The current size of the online industry is about Rs 4500 crore and is growing at the rate of15-20 percent. There is a Neilson study that indicates that 92 percent of people online trust word of mouth. Our target audience is anybody who is looking for something online and is trying to make a decision using that information. So bloggers write about these things and opinions and people look for them when they are trying to make a decision online.

After five years of building, together the team is in good spirits. Having got the first taste of success expansion is on the menu. Keen on a bigger buy to the international market hopes to do more in the US and also enter markets like Dubai and Singapore by the end of the year. As they work up an appetite for growth they are on the lookout for funding and products.

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