Pepper Content is a Content Creation Platform that connects talented creators to organizations that require content. Founded by AnirudhSingla and RishabhShekhar in 2017, Pepper offers customized content solutions by mediating content from the best talent pool of creators across the nation through an AI-enabled platform.
Pepper Content, 2019 Tech30 alum, raised a funding of Rs 2.2 crores in February 2020 as part of its seed funding round, led by Titan Capital, a fund backed by Snapdeal Founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal. Pepper is creating a unique platform where beyond job opportunities, it aims to empower content creators on its platform with tools that allow them to create faster and higher quality content, and also help manage their own content projects at scale.
Anirudh Singla, Founder, and CEO, Pepper Content speaks to Medianews4u about the company, their Focus in 2021, and the way forward.
Launched in 2017, how has your journey been?
From being a content enthusiast to being an entrepreneur, it has been a pretty exciting journey. Rishabh and I started Pepper Content from our dorm room in BITS Pilani in 2017. Prior to that, as an intern at YourStory, I had the opportunity to pen articles and blogs which made me eventually enroll on freelancing sites to utilize my skills in writing and also aim to pay my college fees. While working for 16 hours a day through freelancing websites, I generated INR 2-2.5 lakhs per month just by content writing. We caught on to the fact that there were no platforms that help freelancers get more assignments and the potential of content creation in India was promising. We wanted to fill this gap and Pepper came into being. A content marketplace at the intersection of content creators and brands.
In three years, over 45,000 freelancers have enrolled with Pepper Content and we have generated over $6,00,000 in revenues since inception. We are growing more than 25% MoM in terms of revenue and growing 30% MoM in terms of creators applying to Pepper today. Recently, we raised $4.2 million for a Series A funding round led by Lightspeed Ventures and many other angel investors in September 2020.
Today there are many digital content providers for brands, how different is Pepper Content?
Pepper Content is a content marketplace and bridges the gap between brands and content creators. It helps freelancers to enroll on the platform and expand their horizons for garnering more work opportunities. So we create a match between the brief given by the brand and a freelancer with a specific skill set to work on that kind of brief, thus ensuring superior quality of content. Through our tech platform, we are allowing companies to order content like e-commerce platforms while buying content on-demand. What distinguishes us is our product-first thinking.
Why have brands now shifted to telling a story rather than a few lines and do brands now feel the need to revert to storytelling for their targeted consumers?
Brand storytelling has become an integral part of content strategy. Businesses need to connect with their target audience in this automated ecosystem. Over time it has become necessary for brands to pull at their customers’ heartstrings and engage with them on a much deeper level. The simple reason being, it has become a need for businesses to create a narrative around the product or service they are selling and to share their side of the story for existing and the reasons to buy their products and services. We also must keep in mind that the digital consumer is also evolving. S/he is bombarded with ads and messages from different products in the same industry. What can set your brand apart? It is your ability to tell a story that speaks to your target audience.
How does Pepper Content help brands to do targeted advertising and identify the brand’s consumers?
We at Pepper firmly believe that content needs to be customized for users and we help brands do that! This is constantly practiced in our in-app content, customized content for the target audience, their social media pages, blogs and also creating Google ad headlines and copies that are relevant for brands. To serve this purpose, we recently launched a tool – Peppertype.ai, an instant content generator powered by artificial intelligence, which helps creators and brands solve their content needs within seconds. Peppertype.ai is a one-of-its-kind assistive tool built on top of GPT-3, one of the most trending language models created by OpenAI. It leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence. While the tool is at the nascent stage and is constantly updated with new features, it is already generating volumes of content and seen massive traction from content curators in the industry.
2020 saw a surge in digital consumption, many brands shifted to the digital platform, your thoughts?
There has been an unprecedented transformation in the ways brands started to leverage digital platforms. Media consumption has shifted and is leaping into a digital-first world. Brands are increasingly collaborating with content creators to create a share of voice that can resonate with their identity. New-age technologies like Artificial Intelligence are helping brands to gain maximum ROI from their marketing efforts. I think those brands which have invested in such digital capabilities continued to generate sales and engage with stakeholders when otherwise the entire business ecosystem was near to a complete standstill.
A few case studies?
Currently, we cater to over 600 brands including Indigo, Bombay Shaving Company, Apollo, BookMyShow, and UpGrad, among others. Sharing below overview data on the year 2020:
Recently you announced the funding, can you elaborate on that?
For us raising a series, A round of funding has garnered a lot of investor interest already. In September 2020, we raised $4.2 million as part of its Series A funding, led by Lightspeed India and angel investors including BeerudSheth, Balaji Srinivasan, GauravMunjal, AakritVaish, MitenSampat, Akhil Paul, UtsavSomani, and DilipKhandelwal.The funding round was a phase that would massively help us in scaling up. We were very inclined to associate with stakeholders/investors who could come on board with not just capital but a lot of global insights and help us build a very strong team. Lightspeed came on board as a very good partner for us, from a strategic point of view and helping us with global insights, which at this stage was very difficult to get. Associating with Lightspeed has made a lot of positive impacts and we foresee tremendous growth and possibilities to explore in the future.
What is the vision of Pepper Content and where do you see yourself in the next 3 years?
We envision becoming a 500 crore company in terms of revenue over the next 3-4 years. Our business model has the potential of becoming a global business. This is because content lately has become the kingpin for businesses and is a global requirement. The value of content is 8x to 10x in other countries as compared to India. We are currently the market leaders in text-based content creation, in India. We are also scaling Pepper across different content categories like graphic design, videos. And language is a huge market for us. Think of this entire model across South East Asia, the US, and other markets. So we definitely see massive business potential. Along with that what is also very important for us is our creator-first approach, and the impact creators enrolled with us are making. To date, Pepper has generated over 4.5 crores of revenue for freelancers in India and you can easily see this becoming 10-20x over the coming years as we are building more technologies that allow us to scale the creative market in India and globally. We also want to create a content tech stack with tools like Peppertype.ai, which we recently launched. This AI-powered tool enables you to generate blog ideas, ad copies, and other short-form content with minimal inputs, at the tap of a button. All of this aligns with our overall mission to make the content creation process seamless for creators and businesses.
Does influencer marketing play a huge role today? Your thoughts?
As a content marketplace that works for and with content creators, we of course believe in the role and potential of influencer marketing – after all, influencers to are essentially content creators. Influencer marketing has become an important part of a brand’s marketing mix. It has become a new reality for digital and social media marketers. I think influencer marketing plays a huge role in impacting the purchasing behavior of the targeted set of consumers. In order to stay relevant in the current times and foster reliability for newly introduced products and services, influencer marketing combined with traditional marketing tools is everything a holistic marketing campaign requires.