Shashank Singh, CEO & Founder, Bakstage|FLYX talks about the app, opportunities it offers to creators, conversations the app is stirring, thriving amongst growing competition and more After text and visual/video content, audio content is the new buzz on social media with netizens hopping on to audio-based platforms to interact with a wider audience about a plethora of topics. Against the backdrop of growing popularity of voice-based social media platforms, a lot of players have entered the segment to provide a platform to everyone who has a voice and is willing to express themselves. Shashank Singh, CEO & Founder, Bakstage|FLYX talks about the app and how it will help users connect with a larger community to talk about their shared interests. Edited Excerpts Tell us about the inspiration and insight that led to the inception of Bakstage. Bakstage was initially conceived as a part of FLYX, a social networking platform that tells you what content to watch and where, based on recommendations from friends and family. We wanted to create a space where film cast and crew members and fans can come together and discuss reviews, fan theories, and behind the scenes. This led us to create an audio-based platform for creators - Bakstage for both Android and iOS. Bakstage offers a fun, casual space for users to express their opinions on subjects of their interest or the causes that they support. It supports live and recorded conversations with real people that include personalities from varied backgrounds. What is the USP of Bakstage and how is it different from other social media platforms apart from it being an exclusively audio-based platform? Bakstage is a platform to create unique and great content, and also allows recorded conversations for a great and easy podcasting experience. These recorded podcasts can also be used for marketing purposes and monetisation. Content creators and brands are using Bakstage for creating relevant and important content as it facilitates meaningful conversations with real people. We ascribe great importance to the liberty of expression on Bakstage and encourage conversations on issues such as LGBTQ discrimination or sexual health that may be deemed too contentious or controversial on other platforms. No opinion is unpopular on Bakstage, and all opinions are welcome. Bakstage also welcomes budding creators and provides them with a platform to showcase their talent. Bakstage has hosted renowned personalities such as Onir, Sanjay Manjrekar and Raveena Tandon. How are you leveraging these associations? Bakstage has been hosting many unconventional rooms with known personalities to engage with the listeners in a real and meaningful way. Sessions like these helped us leverage the medium as a public room for anyone to join. Celebrities like actor Raveena Tandon spoke about motherhood, director Onir depicted the LGBTQ space in Bollywood and the challenges that the community has to face, Sanjay Manjrekar described his journey and love for cricket and commentary. Recently, the director of the web series The Family Man, Suparn Verma shared his experience and addressed the controversies surrounding the show. These conversations showcase the power of Bakstage and tell other content creators how they can leverage Bakstage and create their own unique content. How has Bakstage been instrumental in facilitating important conversations on a wide range of social subjects? What can an average consumer expect to witness on Bakstage? It has been our constant endeavour to lend a voice to social issues that impact society, such as Warrior Moms fighting for clean air or gender biases that need to be addressed. On World Environment Day, we hosted rooms with journalists, students, stakeholders and activists talking about how to manage your e-waste, sustainable fashion, and minimalist living among others. Listeners on Bakstage can expect to be entertained and informed at the same time through the conversations. From talking about relevant issues to interacting with their favourite celebrities, users can find it all on Bakstage. The breadth of the discussions encompass everything fun and casual and at the same time, we have had conversations that are societal taboos for many. We are making Bakstage a platform where people can listen, or speak their heart out about subjects that matter the most to them. Bakstage also has a special segment dedicated to COVID-19. Tell us more about it and how is the platform proving useful in helping people through the crisis? The COVID Support Circle is a special segment on Bakstage that facilitates the amplification of the voices of individuals who are facing the pandemic head-on from the frontlines and those who are battling it from the confines of their homes by attempting to overcome their fears and anxieties. These sessions bring together doctors, mental health specialists, and other COVID warriors, in addition to young adults, all trying to make sense of such a prolonged catastrophe on a large scale. Everyone who express their concerns freely, can lend a voice to their innermost feelings and derive a shared sense of community in these testing times. We strive to lay special emphasis on overcoming the mental health challenges together. Every social media platform has led to a boom in content creation and influencer culture. How is Bakstage facilitating budding content creators? We strongly believe that all budding content creators with varied talents deserve to have a platform that they can utilize to connect and interact with a larger audience. and through Bakstage, we hope to offer them just that. Bakstage emphasizes empowering and encouraging enterprising creators by providing them with a stage to liberally showcase their talent or convey their message, all while entertaining a diverse audience. Communities working toward raising awareness about important, less frequently discussed issues are also welcome to utilize the platform to expand their reach. We are also working on various revenue models to help them monetize their content, and will soon have tipping, subscriptions and pay per action enabled to support them. Players like Clubhouse in your segment are gaining a lot of popularity. How do you intend to compete with these players? The rise in the popularity of audio streaming platforms can only be sustained if audio apps focus on delivering consistently good content. The users expect distinctive, high-quality content that is both entertaining and informative, and that characterizes the audio platform in addition to distinguishing it from its mainstream contemporaries. For us, content is a focus area of utmost importance, as is providing a platform that is relevant to Indian users with segments that span many informative and engaging subjects. By initiating conversations on sensitive yet pertinent topics that offer the perspective of marginalised communities whose voices are often ignored by society, we aim to set ourselves apart from our competitors. Apart from content, Bakstage has a rich set of features like chats in the voice rooms, a recording feature, and direct messaging. With more features rolling out in the coming months, Bakstage will become a very unique platform for content creators, brands and audiences. What is the marketing strategy that you have adopted to reach audiences? Currently, we are relying primarily on word-of-mouth promotion for people to discover Bakstage and are also dedicated to creating the best possible experience for both our current users and potential new ones. We also see a great opportunity for brands to use Bakstage as a new medium to engage directly with their consumers and as subject matter experts in their domain of operation, use the platform to educate and spread awareness, in addition to addressing the grievances of the customers.