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Bolo Live has established itself as a leader in video live streaming: Tanmai Paul

While the global pandemic brought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.

Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.

In conversation with Adgully, Tanmai Paul, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Bolo Live, speaks at length about her journey from product management to starting Bolo Live; the challenges she faced in her journey, and much more.

Tell us about your journey and how did you move into Product Management from a commerce background? How has the experience been?

I hail from the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, India. After pursuing my earlier education in Kanpur, I did my Bachelors in Commerce from the University of Delhi. In college, I’d spent as much time as I could thinking about how I can create something through which I may impact lives positively. I started my career back in 2015 and ever since then, I have had this hunger to solve a problem which creates a positive impact on millions, to do something that would allow me to be a positive contributor in the lives of others.

I started off my career with a Digital Marketing Manager’s role at Career Anna and enabled several MBA aspirants to connect with the right choice of personalised courses to help them achieve their dream of doing an MBA. Thereafter, I moved on to Bobble AI, which is an Affle, Elevation Partners and Xiaomi funded venture, to lead their Content Marketing initiatives.

This was when I strengthened the belief in my entrepreneurial spirit and with my strong understanding of local language preferences of users at the grassroots level, decided to join the Bolo Live co-founding team to lead the product. In my role at Bolo Live, I create the product’s strategy, roadmap, and design user journeys to create more value for both the content creators and consumers by bringing them closer to each other.

What were the key challenges faced while moving into a role that is typically said to suit engineers more?

While developers and engineers are usually lucky in tapping product management opportunities, people with non-tech backgrounds are not. Fortunately, my experience helped. Prior to joining Bolo Live, I was associated with Bobble AI, where I played a pivotal role in increasing the percentage of the female audience by over 120%, while working closely with the product team in enabling the platform to launch special women-focused AI stickers as well, which turned out to help the company grow its overall content engagement by over 37%. This compelled me to redefine my job strategy.

In today’s industrial revolution, there is more need than ever for an intimate understanding of customers and the ability to create tailored solutions for them. That’s where the crucial role of a Product Manager comes in. So, not having a core "tech" skill has never affected me. I’m as relevant as my technical colleagues.

What are the key insights around user engagement and retention for a live streaming platform? What makes the user stick to it?

When we were doing short videos retaining content creators was a challenge, especially with bigger competitors spending more money. We had a retention rate of nearly 25 per cent, which has now improved to nearly 80 per cent with the switch to live video streaming. Bolo Live has established itself as a leader in video live streaming, with annualised gross transaction value of close to $6 million already, and having its content creators earn close to $600,000 per month already. With most of its content creators coming from the age group of 23-28 years, 78% from Tier 2 cities, the earning potential from the platform has started to become the primary source of income for its content creators, creating a significant impact in the lives of thousands of creators in a short span of 21 months.

Bolo Live stands unique when it comes to earning opportunities, in comparison to other content apps, where most of their content creators are salaried to be onboarded, this being the primary reason for increasing user stickiness. On the other hand, our monetisation is enabled via peer-to-peer micro transactions; they can also earn without being dependent on the platform via brand partnerships and as their fan base grows. Creators on our platform can directly monetise from the fans through multiple avenues on the platform, which makes us different, giving it a greater potential to earn and more and more creators join our platform organically by spreading a strong word of mouth.

What can be expected next in the product growth for Bolo Live users?

We are continuously experimenting and introducing technology solutions primarily for enhancing user experience of the app performance in the low Internet bandwidth areas. Bolo Live is focused to build a micro-transactions-driven creator economy platform in India and has witnessed high stickiness, driven by gamification and communities. In order to create more value for all the creators as well as users, we will continue to innovate on creator-led social gaming and entertainment  and will introduce new ways for content creators to monetise through consumer spends as well as to open up the platform for brands to leverage the live streaming engagement.

What is the role of in-app hooks to drive more earnings for both creators and users?

I believe that’s where the magic happens. In-app engagement hooks that bring content creators and consumers closer lead to a sticky bond and thus, communities amongst creators and consumers. This is where the consumer doesn’t see that he/she is paying money for the content, but starts seeing that he/she is spending money to be a part of multiple fun activities, banter streams and social gaming fun with their favourite creators. This is what triggers the activities on the platform, which end up creating value for all the stakeholders, and make the consumers drivers of growth to empower content creators through democratisation of monetisation.

What message would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs?

It doesn’t take qualifications to follow your desired career path, but passion, rigour and willingness to learn quickly. For an aspiring product manager, there are three primary considerations: Core competencies, Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Company fit. However, where you work, how they work, and who you work with and for will ultimately determine your long-term success.

Start-up Stars
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