I wrote to Rahul Sapkal, the founder CEO and he has given greater details of his venture. Read on...
What is NEooWS?
NEooWS is an online RSS aggregator and reader with all the features of a conventional desktop reader and more. The idea behind NEooWS is to build communities around news. Users can add comments and vote for popularity of stories from various sources, tag stories, and create groups. It also allows to compare news stories from different sources.
Why'd you name it that?
Its NEWS with a pair of eyes in the middle. NEooWS .
Where did the idea come from? What is the research you have done on the business model?
The idea actually evolved from our experiments with RSS. We found RSS as a very powerful concept to build a feature-rich consolidation website. Before we knew it, we were consolidating news and stories from various popular sites in one place, making a very powerful platform to read news and share insights. NEooWS evolved organically
from an experiment to a social networking website around news.
How did you actually build NEooWS(how much did it cost, where do you host, what CMS, coding, finding people, etc)?
NEooWS was built by two friends over six months of effort. The user interface went through different looks before we arrived at the current look. Rahul Sapkal is the primary architect with backend and logistics support from a friend in California.
We have a long term relationship with our hosting provider Lunarpages (http://www.lunarpages.com). We host NEooWS from Lunarpages's San Diego datacenter.
We are very much in public beta right now, and we are seeing some aggressive growth in the number of people visiting the website daily. We have quite a few repeat visitors with over 1000 registered members. Typically, guests visiting the website have grown manifold since we launched, and the average time being spent on the site by users has been steadily increasing. We are monitoring these statistics on a daily basis and are working on translating the large number of guest users into daily visitors.
What are your goals with NEooWS ? I mean the number of page views daily and the revenue targets.
Our goal with NEooWS is to make it the single best choice to read news on the Internet. We have a solid plan which we plan to implement over the next 6-8 months, which will allow users to read news online,offline and while they are mobile. Our customization features are on target to be the best offered by any news site, and are aimed at providing unparalleled flexibility to users of NEooWS on how they wish to consume the content.
We wish to start monetizing NEooWS with targeted advertisements and value added features (coming soon) when we have our NEooWS story near completion (see above). The target is to gain momentum in converting users and kick-start revenues by the end of year 2007.
How do you market NEooWS?
Currently, we rely on reviews and interviews related to NEooWS to market the site. Our main marketing tool is word of mouth. This works well during a beta stage since we are getting our feet wet with a large number of users, and interviews such as this help in driving more users to the site. We are mostly testing most of the features to make sure they are absolutely solid for use by our valued audience at this time, and the limited marketing keeps traffic to a manageable level for us to work with and improve.
Once we reach our target feature set, we will be more direct in marketing NEooWS with inviting blog reviewers directly, targeted advertising using google, yahoo etc. to drive users to the site.
Is there a USP for NEooWS that you are working on?
Absolutely. I won’t elaborate, but suffice it to say that we are working on features that will target every consumer of news stories (online or offline) with value added features that will target everybody.
What would you say to a person who wants to do something entrepreneurial?
We say, keep at it. If you find an idea interesting because it solves a problem you are facing, chances are, there is an audience for you. How big the idea is depends on how many such target users you will eventually have. Niche ideas generally do much better in garnering an audience if the right marketing is put in the mix.
If you are engineers like us, get professional help to market your site.
Q. What importance do you give to finding the funds vis a vis the idea?
It actually depends on the idea. Some ideas can be implemented on a shoestring (such as NEooWS). Others need funding. In case of the latter, we believe it is mandatory to go through the step of finding funding since that puts you through a trial of fire. If you capture funding from VCs, your idea probably has merit and it is a matter of
good execution to succeed.
In case of NEooWS, it is privately funded (mainly time and hosting
costs), which enables us to control the agenda and features we would
like to provide. However we would like to hear from people interested in NEooWS or have a proposal to work with us, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.