TrueFan, founded in January 2020, is a one of its kind celebrity fan engagement platform that aims to connect fans to their beloved superstars in the most meaningful ways possible. The Platform has partnered with some of the biggest A listers of B-Town, Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor, Tiger Shroff and Hrithik Roshan.
Headquartered in New Delhi, it caters to the everyday Indian audience who’ve grown up enacting dialogues from Bollywood movies, copied hairdos of their beloved ‘heroes’ & ‘heroines’ or turned into bathroom-singers with their favourite love songs. It allows these very ‘true fans’ to interact with their dream stars at a price that does not hit the pocket.
The platform is simple and easy to use. All the user has to do is to answer a series of fun questions around the life of their favourite celebrities and the winner, or in this case, the ‘TrueFan’, stands a chance to win a personalized video message from his/her favourite star, while all the other fans get assured ‘cashbacks’. Thus, the platform operates on an easy win-win module that has something for everyone.
TrueFan claims to be different from the existing market players in the following ways:
- The startup is focused on partnering with leading celebrities (A listers exclusively)
- Its business is based on gamification and fun where we encourage fans to play simple quizzes to win video messages versus making them a one-off transactional purchase.
Nimish Goel, CEO and Co-Founder of TrueFan is an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus. Prior to starting TrueFan, he was working with Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm. He co-founded this platform along with Nevaid Aggarwal and Devender Bindal in January 2020. TrueFan has since roped in some of the biggest Bollywood celebrities namely Kareena Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff and Ranveer Singh to create memorable celebrity-fan interactive experiences.
Talking about what factors motivated him to start TrueFan, Nimish said, “I have been a fanboy all my life. It was an almost surreal experience of gate-crashing a wedding to meet my idol, Virat Kohli that put me in the shoes of millions of Indian fans out there. India is a country that basically worships Bollywood celebrities, the connection seems quite distant but in a way is very personal. We realized that this issue of devotion towards the superstars and the lack of personal accessibility to them needed to be bridged.” Here’s when TrueFan came into being. With this platform, the team aims to fulfill the dreams of millions of fans in India and provide them with the most meaningful engagement experiences with their favorite celebrities.
The early phase
TrueFan was launched in early September with some of the biggest Bollywood stars, Ranveer Singh, Kareena Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff. The founders’ focus since has been on building the applications technical and content infrastructure and providing a seamless experience to our users. In the coming months, the startup aspires to increase their celebrity portfolio by partnering with A- listers from Music, Sports and more.
The overwhelming response received from users and seeing their motive behind the application fall into place is what keeps the team at their feet. With a team of 40 members which is growing, they are working towards building a holistic space for fans to interact with their favorite celebrities at a price that doesn’t hit the pocket.
Journey so far
Sharing their experiences, the team shares that two of the biggest milestones in their journey so far have been the funding received and their partnerships with some of the biggest household names of Bollywood.
They did a lot of research while giving a shape to their product and then pitched it to leading talent and their management teams. They were happy to have received a great response from them which led to several successful partnerships.
TrueFan has raised $4.3M in funding from prominent investors, Ronnie Screwvala, Mayfield India and Saama Capital. Its product concept was fairly new in the nascent celebrity fan engagement industry. The team feels it is their unique and strong value proposition that gained trust from the investors.
The celebrity- fan engagement space in India is still growing, there are quite a few players existing in the market, Gonuts, Unlu, Tring and Wysh. Cameo, which is a platform of the similar kind is considered as the largest player internationally.
“Our business model is completely different from all the existing platforms in the market. TrueFan is the only platform in India that caters exclusively to A list celebrities. We’re partnering with top celebrities and connecting them to millions of Indian fans out there. Since the price to play quizzes on the platform is very nominal, people from all walks of life can participate and win a chance to get personalized videos from their dream idols. Lastly, through gamification, the platform also brings in a unique take on celebrity fan engagement,” said Nimish Goel on explaining what makes them different from their competitors.
Market Response in the Post-COVID-19 world
While COVID- 19 has posed restrictions, the startup witnessed that the demand for celebrity fan engagement platforms have increased. Fans want access to their beloved stars and these platforms cater to that need. The coming years will see exponential growth for this industry which is currently very nascent in India. While social media platforms exist, influential celebrity connect platforms try to provide a meaningful and personalized experience to the users.
Biggest Challenge as a Startup
Discussing some of the major challenges faced by startups in India, Nimish said, “I think its customer trust. Customers have many places to spend their time on and one needs to build something which instinctively hits their inner cord.”
India is gradually moving towards the startup ecosystem. Therefore, in order to boost entrepreneurship, the government has introduced many schemes to promote entrepreneurship and assist emerging startups through initial handholding, funding and incubation.
The founders shared that their short term goals lie in expanding TrueFan’s user base and celebrity portfolio. In the longer run they aim to build a 360 degree celebrity-fan engagement platform with a lot more features that enable fans to form communities and consume quality content that will be curated by the ‘TrueFan team’.
Message for budding entrepreneurs
Nimish concedes with a positive message for budding entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts, “Keep working hard, focus on deep execution and never give up”.
Hope this success story would motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our startup profiling feature story/interview series. We are on a mission to put forth the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.
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