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Business  3, Jul 2014

This startup wants to be the LinkedIn of public relations

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Medialink from JFDI aims to be a platform for journalists, bloggers and businesses to connect, and enhance corp comm and PR efforts

Today, with many traditional media houses expanding into online channels, and digital media publications born online, the internet has boosted the reach and size of the media sector. Mayuresh Godse, the CEO and Founder of Content At Length, the company behind Medialink, wants to capitalise on this growth and achieve what he aims for, which is to improve the quality of corporate communications and PR.

Backed up by CTO Deepa Kanam and Media Advisor Kashmira Chawak, the team intends to build a platform addressing the pain points of businesses seeking publicity and journalists seeking sources. Currently incubating at JFDI, the startup claims that the potential and promise of the product is broad and fundamentally disruptive, in a way that the PR market might be unprepared for.

Medialink’s origins
Godse, who comes from a marketing and advertising background, explained, “Every entrepreneur has a dream, and as an entrepreneur I know how much entrepreneurs want their stories to go out. The story pipeline is quite clogged, so we want to create an opportunity to unclog it and allow people who deserve it to have their story be heard. That’s the human side of our business.”

In India there are more than 95,000 print publications, almost 700 TV channels and more than 100 radio channels, serving a population of around 1.22 billion people. Most media publications have digital editions, not including blogs.The Bombay Stock Exchange possesses a total market capitalisation of US $1.51 trillion, with 5000 listed companies, as well as 11 million SMEs (small & medium enterprises).

All these businesses have an interest in communicating their stories, and journalists are always on the lookout for reliable sources (i.e. experts) to develop stories. But the PR business is still done traditionally in India and elsewhere, with relationships cultivated through personal networks of contacts, referrals and introductions. Godse and his team think this traditional model is ready for disruption.

Medialink is designed as a targeted leads platform, addressing a mutual pain point for corporate communicators and journalists. It acts as a platform for both sides, enabling the corporate sector and SMEs curate media lists, while media professionals can curate source lists of reliable and relevant commentators and experts. In principle, this improves the quality of media relations, as journalists experience less spam and businesses experience better returns on their PR investment.

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Market matters
With the intent to democratise the PR industry through the use of this platform and expand the communication options and possibilities for both businesses and public relations personnel, the company will drive down the prices of marketing and PR, allowing SMEs to compile, curate and choose competitively-priced PR offers.

While focussed on India as its main market due to superior scaling, Godse also intends to cater to the smaller Singapore market. According to IE Singapore’s information, 8 out of 10 SMEs in Singapore are intent on regional expansion. This requires that affordable PR options be available to serve the marketing needs of these companies. After improving the service and achieving validation and traction in India, Godse plans to expand to Indonesia and Malaysia, due to their strong growth potential. The Philippines, as a strong emerging market, is on the cards; so are smaller economies within Southeast Asia.

Business model and challenges
Medialink is positioning itself as an enterprise-focussed business, using a subscription model for its intended clientele: PR firms and private businesses. Journalists and other media professionals will be able to use it for free. Comparing it to LinkedIn, Godse noted that LinkedIn is generic, with no focus or ability to cater to the needs of media professionals. He claimed that with Medialink, searches are targeted, with the ability to pitch a story proposal, unlike on LinkedIn which has no specific function.

A significant strategic challenge Medialink foresees is managing Big Data. Godse shared, “As we scale up, we’ll require more sophisticated algorithms and search patterns.” In the short-term, the main issues it faces are platform-related, due to creating a two-sided platform. More than anything, it seems to be confronting the challenges of content marketing, SEO and social media that are central to the development of its story.

Also Read: The Toad @ JFDI: Venture capitalism is not as bad as it is made out to be

e27 has started a series with a spotlight on startups and people from JFDI accelerator. We will be speaking to innovative startups to discover what inspires them and what do they aspire for. 

Shiwen Yap

Shiwen Yap

Shiwen is passionate about exploring science, technology and entrepreneurship ideas and is an avid advocate of open source technologies and methodologies.

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