Vinay Singhal’s Startup Story from WittyFeed to STAGE OTT Platform

Meet Vinay Singhal, the guy who’s got everything it takes to be an entrepreneur, from living through the loss of his company, WittyFeed, to founding another company- STAGE, an Indian media company specially made for Indian dialects.

After graduating from the SRM University of Chennai with a B.Tech degree in Computer Science, Vinay decided to change the course of his life completely. In 2010, during his first year of college, he started an NGO named, an online organization for youth awareness which conducted both online and offline meets for social awareness and issues.

He founded other ventures such as FollowMe247 in 2012, which aimed at eradicating the student-teacher communication gap and making teaching accessible for people without an internet connection on their phones.

And just like this, changing the world and the country didn’t seem too unlikely to him. This eventually led him to be the co-founder of WittyFeed– an internet media and content company, almost like an Indian version of BuzzFeed.

WittyFeed to STAGE

Vinay and his other two co-founders, Shashank Vaishnav and Parveen Singhal had been building WittyFeed for years before finally launching it in 2014. They had built it to be their entire identity, and after 6 years of countless sleepless nights and 4 product failures later, WittyFeed became one of the fastest-growing companies.

Gaining over 120 million unique users and 420 million website views, it found its success in 2016. In November 2018, they made the highest revenue, were set to raise a Series A, and were at their peak of success. After relishing the highest of highs, the lowest of lows were bound to hit.

On 26th November 2018, he and his co-founders woke up to the company being non-existent and it all came crashing down in the blink of an eye when Facebook shut their website off. To quote his exact words, “One fine day we woke up, and the company didn’t exist.” 

The Beginning of STAGE

Imagine waking up to years of struggle being washed away, with no fault of your own. By February 2019, they were on the verge of running out of money. After months of being in denial and with the kind support of 54 WittyFeed employees, in 2019, Vinay and his co-founders built to make content in a way that makes sense to Indians. 

As a founder, you can’t believe that this is the climax of your story, there’s more to it”, says Vinay. “More than losing the company, the thing was losing my identity itself. It’s a mistake many entrepreneurs make when we connect ourselves with our work so much that it becomes tough to differentiate.

What’s so unique about STAGE?

A country like India with immeasurable dialects and diversity deserves its own platform for self-expression. The first thing that stands out about STAGE is its careful consideration of various Indian dialects used in India. STAGE promotes inclusivity by attempting to destroy language barriers among Indians as much as possible.

Vinay says, “In India, language is an urban concept. The moment you move beyond urban settlements, everybody speaks a dialect, nobody speaks a language”. Shedding light on this very fact, STAGE made its way to being the first Indian dialect-focused OTT platform. After all, art has always been about expression and communion.

Vinay noticed that the people in Haryana didn’t have a designated film production house, and were struggling to find a STAGE. Thankfully, STAGE funded and mentored them, and today these talented local artists have made their own web series with STAGE. 

You won’t believe it, we see a lot of reverse migration happening and all the people who were struggling in Bombay to find opportunities are coming back to Haryana for the same. Today, Haryana has a flourishing entertainment industry and there are more than 25 production houses, and we’re producing over 20-25 originals every year locally”. 

And now, presenting STAGE to the world with Shark Tank India and blowing away the Sharks with their incredible story and gaining their trust, Vinay and his co-founders got back home with funding from Peyush Bansal, Aman Gupta and Namita Thapar. Along with this, in a recent Series A funding round led by Blume Ventures, raised ₹40 crore.

There are days when you can’t help but fall victim to failure, but those are the days when you need to remind yourself to push yourself, no matter how hard it may seem. Vinay is the embodiment of the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” or quite literally, when life takes your company away from you, build another one.

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