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In conversation with Anushka Shetty Co-founder of Plop Stories

Anushka Shetty Co-founder of Plop Stories tells TechGraph that, “We at Plop Stories aims to globally entertain Gen Z and Y in a style that is most appealing to them.”

Full Transcript: 

TechGraph: How does ‘Plop stories’ look like these days? 

Anushka Shetty: Plop Stories is an interactive fiction platform where the vision is to make reading very interesting for GenZ and Millennials. In the world of podcasts, TikTok and Insta Stories, Plop Stories is the next level of interactive, immersive storytelling. Plop Stories aims to globally entertain Gen Z and Y in a style that is most appealing to them.

It is breaking across multiple mediums – text, video, audio, simulations, and role-playing to bring the next level of interactive content experience, at the apex of content and gaming. 

The bite-sized stories are a new form in the interactive fiction market, which is mostly crowded with role-playing games that don’t fully cater to the mobile-only market.

TechGraph: How did Plop stories happen? What was the story behind the launch?

Anushka Shetty: Both I and Vineet were 20-something-year-olds and were voracious readers – or at least used to be one. Until one day, we realized that it was a long time ago since we hadn’t read a single book other than academic literature. 

However, we, just like hundreds of our peers, were addicted to our smartphones as well as texting and social media apps. We believe that we are re-introducing storytelling for the youth and perhaps, even to the world. 

These users depict a mature market where smartphone penetration is high, disposable income is high, attention spans are reducing, video engagement has saturated and the audience is exploring newer content in more engaging formats, and thus, to fill in the gap we launched Plop Stories.

We noticed that the publishing industry, especially fiction has seen no innovation as such. Kindle did take reading to the next level but basically, it was paper being digitized. 

Apart from this, there was no significant innovation that the industry witnessed.  But the idea with Plop was, you don’t just read the story, but you live it at the same time. It allows you to create your adventure but in fiction.

We started conducting focus groups and realized that while reading a book on the smartphone was considered cumbersome, millennials spend hours “reading” on smartphones in the chat format. That was our eureka moment.

Our vision is to make “Reading trending again” for the GenZ.

TechGraph: How do you feel ‘Plop Stories’ stands out from others who are already in this business?

Anushka Shetty: Our key feature is the simulation and role-playing weaved within the stories giving the users a high of actually participating in the progression of the story. 

Apart from this our UI and UX are cleaner, better, and more intuitive. Constant feedback has shown us that our app has better quality content than the others. 

Our price point is very competitive. The decision trees or “role-playing” within our stories essentially make our product much more interactive & immersive than others.

TechGraph: Could you walk us through the key features offered by Plop Stories?

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Anushka Shetty: In our focus groups we learned that while reading on the phone is considered cumbersome, millennials spend hours consuming and in effect “reading” on their smartphones.

These users depict a mature market where smartphone penetration is high, disposable income is high, attention spans are reducing, video engagement has saturated and the audience is exploring newer content in more engaging formats.

Plop Stories addresses this growing, unsatisfied want of exploring new content–consumption patterns by the building of three strong pillars:

  • Mobile-first – Millennials, Gen Y &  Z are not buying TVs and nor are they using their laptops for leisure. They are out and about and on their smartphones. Millennials spend more time on their phones than they do sleeping (Source: 2019 Consumer OTT Report). Plop Stories intelligently uses all native features of a smartphone and weaves them into the content served to its audience.
  • Short, bite-sized content – With rapidly reducing attention spans, three- hour movies are long a thing of the past and are replaced by short 10 minute instant gratification of web content. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Zs and Millennials watch premium mobile short-form content. We create engaging content that gives an instant dose of gratification in 12 mins or less.
  • Immersive & Interactive – For developed markets, Gen Y & Z has already experienced everything there is in the written, video & audio format. To capture their attention a new format that brings active engagement from the user is necessary. Netflix is exploring more immersive, interactive formats. YouTube is experimenting with “Choose Your Own Adventure” type content. 

We mix the written word with multimedia elements to life-like mobile-based simulations e.g. Instead of reading about a ransom call made by the kidnapper, the user can receive the call personally on his/her phone. Users can make decisions for the characters in the stories and can live their fantasies through the heroes in the stories.

TechGraph: How did you incentivize writers to create content on the platform? What was in it for them?

Anushka Shetty: We at Plop stories brings you immersive fiction – which goes beyond written content and merges with visual content, over the internet bypassing traditional book distributors. Writers can publish their interactive stories directly on Plop. Because Plop is mobile-first it provides writers a multitude of options to create highly immersive content.

We already have some publishers who are interested in exploring the Plop format. Just like the pandemic has made production houses warm up to OTT platforms like Netflix and Prime Video, publishing houses are warming up to the idea of alternate reading formats. 

Publishers can explore Plop as another way to adapt their existing books. Publishers sell the film rights of a book to a film production company, audiobook rights to an audio publisher like Audible or Storytel; they could now sell the “interactive fiction” adaptation rights to Plop.

TechGraph: Content business seems to have benefited from COVID-19. Why do you think it happened?

Anushka Shetty: Situations became critical with the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown. But the best part was that the lockdown witnessed the increased love for reading all over again.  

The surge of reading increased to a great level during this pandemic. Similarly, there has been a massive growth in the number of writers/creators who have been onboarded to the platform.

TechGraph: Did you register any rise or fall in your platform during this nine-month phase?

Anushka Shetty: We have seen over a 400% rise in user activity especially from the United States and the United Kingdom during this period. And almost 800% increase in in-app purchases. Similarly, there has been a massive growth in the number of writers/creators who have been onboarded to the platform.

TechGraph: What does the future hold for Plop stories?

Anushka Shetty: We see Plop Stories turning into a large media company encompassing all forms of new-age interactive media. 

We aim to be the first global platform for immersive storytelling on which writers and even traditional publishing houses around the world could create and monetize their interactive fiction.

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