Journalist Mini Menon puts the spotlight on Indian history in new venture

Journalist Mini Menon has partnered with history enthusiast Akshay Chavan to launch Live History India, a digital platform focused on bringing alive Indian History and taking it to a wide array of new age audiences across the world. 

Live History India will showcase short format and long format content based on the story types, including documentaries and shows like ‘Blast from the Past’. The content will be multimedia led, incorporating videos, text and animation into it. At present, the platform is not outsourcing any content and promises to deliver stories and facts to India, by India. 

LHI Digital, the holding company of Live History India, has also announced that it has received first round of funding from a group of strategic investors, including Cyrus Guzder, Chairman and Managing Director of AFL logistics and Technology Consultancy; and seed funding firm 5F led by Dr Ganesh Natrajan, former Chairman of Nasscom Foundation. 

Commenting on the new venture, Mini Menon, Editor and Co- Founder of Live History India, said, “We are excited to launch Live History India. We believe it is time to create an India-centred and focused new age content platform on Indian history and culture. We aim to use innovative multimedia formats to create exciting content on India and bridge the gap by taking history outside text books. With more and more Indians spending money to travel across India, LHI believes that there is a huge need gap that needs to be filled. LHI has a rich multimedia content pipeline planned for this.” 

When asked about the genesis behind launching ‘Live History India’ digitally, Menon quipped, “Live History India combines the best of the past with best of the future at the present with the digital media and how it allows you create innovative product to reach a wide array of people across the world. So the idea came because it really combines the passion of the founding theme – that is, the combined experience and skillset that Akshay Chavan and I bring together. I have about 18 years of experience in doing FB format of television in terms of news and setting up news channels and last as the Feature Executive Editor of Bloomberg TV. I realised the potential of digital in taking programming to a wider range of people. A lot of our shows had a far better place and reach through digital rather than television network because digital offers you the ability to have the content outside to everybody to respond to and stay for 24 hours. The digital platform also offers you that value of having content available anytime, anywhere in the world perpetually. So that’s a huge advantage.” 

Live History India has a team of eight core people involved with 22 team members and a network of 60 historians, who bring very different skillsets to the table, both in terms of content creation and deep research. 

On the first round of funding, Menon said, “Live History India is positioned right in the centre of Digital India, Make in India, Start up India, Smart Cities and Incredible India. We have been lucky to get some great strategic partners and history enthusiasts on board as investors. Our investors share our vision of creating a world class product on India, from India.” 

Speaking about his investment in LHI Digital Network, Cyrus Guzder said, “Live History India is an exciting new age content platform that will go a long way in creating public awareness about India’s rich history. This is essential to ensure the conservation of our built heritage. Local communities have played a critical role in the area of heritage conservation the world over and we need a public movement around this in India as well. LHI will act as a catalyst for this.” 

Dr Ganesh Natarajan, Founder and Chairman of 5F World, another investor in the venture, added here, “We see LHI Digital as an extremely significant investment since it will operate at the confluence of Social and Cultural relevance, Skill Building and Digital Platform enablement. We look forward to being strategy and technology partners to Mini and Akshay as they build a great company.” 

The launch of Live History India on the web was preceded by a social media teaser launch of LHI on January 14, 2017. “We have been extremely encouraged by the response we have had on the social media. We have had over 500,000 likes in just a short time and data shows that it is the youth, those in the 18-24 age group, who have been our biggest supporters,” said Akshay Chavan, Co-Founder & Head of Research. 

Menon added here, “The fact that a vast array of audiences, especially the youth, are tuning in to LHI in the social media has iterated our belief that there is a lot of latent interest in Indian history which has not been adequately served. LHI aims to fill that gap by combining great content with exciting formats.” 

Chavan, who is driving the initiative of reaching out to leading historians and authors across the world, informed, “We have over 50 top historians and authors as our contributors. Each of them has been selected for their deep insights and body of work. By the year end, we expect this number to cross 100.” 

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal; renowned columnist and Director of Mumbai Literature Live!, Anil Dharkar; former Bureaucrat and India’s first Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah; and Malvika Singh, Publisher of Seminar, will be joining Cyrus Guzder and Dr Ganesh Natarajan on the Live History India’s Board of Advisors. 

Speaking about his association, Shyam Benegal said, “Nehru called India a palimpsest, where each epoch has left its cultural, social and political imprint on the age that existed before. Over the millennia there have been layers upon layers of these imprints, but none have totally erased the layers beneath them. This multi-layered accumulation of cultures and histories make India among the most unique nations of the world. Live History India is a first of its kind attempt on a digital platform that brings together the work of a large number of historians and authors on the many and varied influences that have gone into the making of modern India.” 

Live History India also has a robust revenue plan and will work with a cross section of brands and stakeholders, including State Governments, to build content on India’s history, culture and travel. As part of the launch bouquet, LHI has a wide array of properties that include:
Amazing India - On the relatively unknown wonders of India
SnapShort Histories - easily accessible ‘History in Shorts, a series of Videos that bring together the many stories that make India. 

A large focus of LHI is on ‘Living History’, that is, the continuum of traditions in areas like food, textiles and the arts. LHI brings properties like History in a Dish, Forgotten Treasures and the Weaves of India.  

The technology platform that LHI is using has been built by Quintype, a start-up based in California/ Bangalore. Quintype’s Audience Technology Platform and their experience in digital publishing, big data & analytics and hyper personalisation will help LHI customise content.  

“We have a rich pipeline of properties and we look forward to partnering with all brands that have India at their heart and think India first,” Menon concluded.


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