GoNuts is Asia’s leading platform for human connection and communication, providing a trusted pipeline between celebrities and their fans via authentic & personalized experiences.
Gonuts also launched Gonuts for business that aims to be the trusted platform for start-ups and MSMEs to build their brands and use celebrities across music/television/film/sports and lifestyle to make their marketing and brand promotions effective.
GoNuts also aims to bridge the gap between celebrities and their millions of fans and democratize talent to the Indian and expatriate Indian diaspora with a long-term vision of creating India’s largest celebrity experience commerce platform.
Joji George, Co-Founder, Gonuts in conversation with Medianews4U on the challenges of Influencer marketing, and how brands can maximize their connection with the consumers…
What made you start GoNuts?
We live in an era where people are very connected but completely disconnected from each other. There is a growing need to communicate. Fandom has always existed and in fact, has exploded due to newer platforms and social media applications. Communication from Stars is always one-sided and hence we saw an opportunity to create a platform at the intersection of human connection, communication, and celebrity commerce.
We founded GoNuts in March 2020, right into the pandemic, which helped us to refine our product and focus on capital efficient capabilities.
As founders, we have all grown on Fandom, albeit we all have our own cultural icons. Having been with media and entertainment for over 20+ years, across music, television, film, live events, and talent management, I personally saw a huge gap in the ability of smaller organizations and consumers at large, to reach celebrities through a reliable and trusted source. This platform would add a layer of income for the artist and unbelievable personalization for the consumer, creating authentic memorable experiences.
What is the company’s USP?
Our USP is the depth of experience we have as founders across technology, scaling start-ups, and entertainment. Our understanding and proven ability in these sectors make artists trust and prefer to be exclusive with us on Gonuts without commoditizing themselves with other “me too” products in the market, who rely on deep discounting to survive.
GoNuts offers a unique aggregator platform that allows consumers from across the world to now connect with their stars at the click of a button for personalized video messages, through the website and app. The market has shown us numerous case studies outside of greetings.
GoNuts has now also become a reliable source for small and medium enterprises to source talent for their brand promotions, endorsements and content.
These personally curated videos make each occasion celebratory and memorable to the recipient and their circle of influence since this is less than 60 secs and can be easily transferred via Whatsapp.
The network effects are incredible since the video is posted on the social media handle of the recipient, which brings our marketing cost down over a period. From a content perspective, videos from GoNuts are made in a style unique to the platform that is bound to create a memory that lasts forever.
The pandemic saw a surge in digital viewing, is this helping the platform in connecting fans and celebrities?
The pandemic has created a surge in digital consumption and changed how brands work with influencers. Not only is it redefining existing industry trends, but it also presents new challenges and opportunities for influencer partnerships. During the lockdown, there was a significant slowdown of investments in partnerships across the board, with some sectors hit harder than others. In May and June, we saw partnerships begin to go back online, though, again at a different pace depending on the industry and geography. We also noticed that the partnerships looked different than they did pre-pandemic. Influencers and brands started to shift their communication more toward branded content and away from mere product advertising and were conscious of cost. That’s the gap that Gonuts aims to fill, both for D2B and D2C.
A trend, I hope, that will change in the coming years is pegging the value of influencers on their number of followers. It’s a bit like how television ratings and advertising rates were based on TAM ratings, even if the sample size never made sense.
I believe that what OTT has done to television, we will do to influencer marketing, which makes it authentic and economical. It’s absurd when you pay lakhs for a tweet or a post, based on followers and not engagement.
Is there a subscription fee and how are you monetising?
We do not have a subscription fee model. Ours is almost TVOD. The process to get a shoutout has been finessed. Fans across the world can visit our website, browse their favorite celebrity and book a request by providing some basic details of the person for whom the video is to be created. We provide script improvements that get their message in the way they intended to convey and also brief our talent to deliver beyond the expectations of the person buying the video for gifting. The videos are delivered in an average time of 1-2 days. However, now we are used to delivering in record time and fulfilling last-minute requests. In jest, we have helped save many marriages, thanks to our superstars on GoNuts.
Today there are many platforms promising the same, how different are you?
I agree the barriers to entry may seem easy. However, building a business that is a brand, profitable, and has the unit economics to scale is what Gonuts is about.
Our differentiation is in three key aspects.
One, the incredible artists on the platform, 80% of whom are exclusive on Gonuts.
From Jonty Rhodes to Shankar Mahadevan, to Milkha Singh to Alka Yagnik, we have them all on Gonuts.
Second, the premium positioning of the brand, which is also a reflection of the artists and our brand communication.
Three, our commitment to creating trusted partnerships and co-creation of content, has been a game-changer for the category.
We were the first to launch music as a category and today boast of the biggest names in music across the country. We were the first to get impersonators on the platform at affordable prices and also the first to create regional categories. We are also the first to provide EMI options for customers. Our innovations have been the trend for others to follow.
As Fandom is soaring in India, Gonuts aims to bridge the gap between celebrities and their millions of fans through customized messages and build emotional connections through this platform. The uniqueness of the platform is its ability to connect the Indian and global diaspora to talent across genres and also the multi-segmented price points. The curated exclusivity of celebrities on our platform indeed makes us India’s most aspirational and influential fans-celebrity connect platform. We have celebrities from Music, Food/Lifestyle, TV, Movies, Sports, etc. The start-up successfully delivers videos to its consumer in record time and in many instances has turned around videos for our clients in less than thirty minutes.
GoNuts for Business is perhaps the only one of its kind, focused on small and medium enterprises to use the platform to create marketing to its stakeholders. On the HR front, through our celebrities, we aim to revolutionize how companies talk to their employees and other key stakeholders.
What are the challenges in the business?
The biggest challenge in the current scenario is the scramble to show scale without an understanding of the fundamentals of the business, and the resulting celebrity commoditization.
While we have maintained our premium positioning and our stars have a strong understanding of being in the right premium brand environment, the rise of many competitor sites, their lack of understanding of this industry, coupled with some artists who are not really conscious of their own personal brand value, has suddenly created deep discounting and operating on negative GMV to show transactions to investors. This is misrepresenting growth and will not last.
This will have an adverse effect not only on the brand value of celebrities that have been discounted on these platforms, in many cases unaware of discounts and offers made on them but that will also, over time, dampen the allure of Fandom, which is going to be detrimental to the business.
We have not succumbed to that, which is why consumers know that when they want quality and the best talent in India, they must go to GoNuts.
We are extremely focused on creating an ecosystem of trust, where the artist is sure their interest will be taken care of. From a revenue perspective, our aim is to build a solid top-line and bottom-line for the company and as far as results achieved in the last quarter, we are confident that our strategy will pay off for our stakeholders.
You’re Vision for 2021?
We have ambitious plans and key milestones we want to reach by the year 2021. In terms of revenue growth, we aim to reach a milestone of $10 million by the end of 2021. In terms of talent, we want to get to 5000+ of the most influential and inspirational celebrities by the next financial year and be the unicorn out of India in this category to the rest of the world.
Where do you see GoNuts in the next 3 years?
We crafted an ambitious vision statement, which is to be the largest and most influential platform for human connection, communication, and Celebrity commerce, making our customers, employees, and stakeholder’s lives richer.
This has many roads that will reach this destination. What you are seeing currently is just the tip of the iceberg.