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Here's how you can make memes, and money too

The meme platform has got the attention of users, enjoys the patronage of well known brands and has a sustainable revenue model. It is difficult to ask for more

March 23, 2021 / 11:25 AM IST
Dabbing, or the dab, is a simple gesture in which a person drops their head into the bent crook of a slanted, upwardly angled arm, while raising the opposite arm out straight in a parallel direction. Since 2015, dabbing has been used as a gesture of triumph or playfulness, becoming a youthful fad and Internet meme. Source: Wikipedia

Dabbing, or the dab, is a simple gesture in which a person drops their head into the bent crook of a slanted, upwardly angled arm, while raising the opposite arm out straight in a parallel direction. Since 2015, dabbing has been used as a gesture of triumph or playfulness, becoming a youthful fad and Internet meme. Source: Wikipedia

There was an interesting job opening in 2019 when Instagram was looking to hire a memer.

A memer? Well, that’s someone who is good at making memes.

Memes are a type of content - a picture, video or a phrase - that is often humorous, which a lot of people send to each other on social media.

While Instagram's job opening came as a pleasant surprise to many, India that year had seen the launch of a platform exclusively for memes called the Meme Chat. The platform not just lets users create memes, but also pays for content creation.

Computer science engineers ---  Kyle Fernandes and Taaran Chanana - who started the platform in 2019, explain how Meme Chat works.

How does the system work and how much can a memer earn?

"Brands come to us to get meme content and we decide the template together. Then we put the brief publicly on the app, which users see and they can create memes. If the meme is good we approve it," said Kyle Fernandes, CEO and Co- Founder, Meme Chat.

He added, "Users earn anywhere between Rs five to Rs seven for one meme. We approve 1,000 memes a day. So, if a person posts 10 memes and if all 10 are approved, then he or she can earn around Rs 100 to Rs 200 a day. Currently, memes have a standard rate as we are trying to encourage more users to create memes. But we are planning to increase the rate by 2 xs."

Brands betting on memes

The interesting poser is this: why are brands looking for meme content and which are these brands?

Fernandes has a simple answer to why brands are betting big on memes - because memes make things super viral. Remember the rap called Rasode Mein Kaun Tha by YouTuber Yashraj Mukhate, which went viral and became a memefest. The meme trend, naturally, was started by Meme Chat.

When it comes to the type of brands using memes, the founders said that while Meme Chat has partnerships with video streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Alt Balaji, Disney+Hotstar, they have many offline brands as well in their portfolio.

"Recently we got on board brands like Indian Terrain (Men's and Boys’ clothing marquee) and phone labels like Xiaomi and OnePlus. So, whenever there is a new phone, we create the hype for them. There is also a banking brand for which we are about to do a campaign," said Taaran Chanana, MD and Co-Founder, Meme Chat.

The future sure looks bright. Says Fernandes, "We started with over-the-top (OTT) platforms, followed by many gaming brands. Currently, the meme marketing ecosystem makes around Rs one to Rs two crore a month, which is distributed amid 10 brands. But the brand base is increasing."

Before starting Meme Chat both Fernandes and Chanana had a strong network of trademarks. Here's how.

The two founders began their entrepreneurial journey when they were around 15, by launching an app in 2015 called Supscribe, an online platform where people formed groups based on their interests to share thoughts and views.

"In order to promote Supscribe, we made a meme page as they were becoming a big thing. The page - Shit Indians Say - grew to have two million followers. When that happened many brands came to us, wanting us to do meme posts for them. So, we saw demand from OnePlus, Amazon. That's how we spotted opportunity in the meme space," explained Fernandes of their debut.

Made Meme Chat with own money

The two used the earnings from brand associations for the memes on Shit Indians Say to start Meme Chat.

"We were in college so there was no option of doing a job and also launching a startup, which many startup founders do. The plan was to monetize content from the beginning. That was our only option. So, we launched the meme creation aspect where users make memes, like Amazon Prime Video, and we leverage that to brands and earn money," said Fernandes.

It is a 50:50 revenue sharing model on Meme Chat. But Fernandes pointed out that "we approve more memes than required by the brands so we give 50 percent of the entire bucket than 50 percent of one unit (meme)."

User interest

No surprise then that Meme Chat could triple its daily active users (DAU) this year.

"We had 40,000 daily active users in January last year and today we are at 145,000 DAUs. The retention on the platform was also upwards of 23 percent,’’ said Fernandes.

Meme Chat currently has over 1.3 million users, seven lakh monthly active users and importantly, the platform has created more than five million memes so far.

Money matters

While the platform has got the attention of both users as well as brands, how are things on the revenue side?

The founders say the model is working well. Fernandes noted that revenue is increasing by five to 10 percent on a monthly basis. However, he added, "While we have grown in terms of brands, cash positivity has become less because of the growth aspect."

Meme Chat is coming up with new features and plans to expand to new geographies. For this, the company recently raised US$ 150,000 from early-stage venture fund, 500 Startups.

"The funds will be used to hire more people to work on machine learning and data science. We also want to expand to new geographies, especially internationally like in Latin America, where there are Indian WhatsApp groups sharing memes and then move to the US, UK and Australia," said Fernandes.

This certainly makes a strong case for those who aspire to become memers.
Maryam Farooqui
Tags: #meme #trends
first published: Mar 18, 2021 09:59 am