Speaking to TechJuice, Co-Founder ContentStudio, Waqar Azeem shared,
“It gives a huge sense of accomplishment as a Pakistani to be featured on Product Hunt and winning the #1 Product of The Day. It boosted our traffic to 3500 visitors in three days with 200 signups and a good conversion rate.”
In 2017, Waqar identified the need for social media management tools for small agencies and startups. Marketing tools were an expensive option and there was no one solution that allowed users to discover, publish, and analyze their digital presence in one place. Building upon his experience of running a digital agency, he initiated the development of ContentStudio and launched the first version of the product on Product Hunt.
The minimum viable product (MVP) of ContentStudio was developed in less than a year. The product gained a significant start after a promotional activity, receiving traction of over 10,000 potential customers. The activity helped validate the product and the team decided to integrate new features. The product currently has 30,000 users across the world that includes marketers, digital agencies, and startups. Majority users of ContentStudio are based in developed economies such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and Sweden. The startup has some user base from India as well. ContentStudio is now competing with the likes of Buzzsomo, Buffer, SproutSocial and Hootsuite, popular social media automation companies.
“There are not much Software as a Service (SAAS) companies coming out of Pakistan. It makes us proud that our product is now being recognized by marketers all over the world.”
So what exactly is ContentStudio?
ContentStudio is a big data product powered by AI and machine learning algorithms. Its content discovery tool is a differentiation factor from other automation tools that only offer publishing options. The discovery tool enables users to browse through trending content related to any topic and develop engaging digital content around it. Waqar shares,
“The tool helps businesses put their social media channels on auto-pilot offering content discovery, planning, publishing, analytics, and analytics under one-roof makes it a one-stop solution for content marketers and social media teams.”
ContentStudio has crawled 150+ million articles, connected 110,000+ social accounts and
published 6+ million posts
The startup is headquartered out of Pakistan with 15 employees. They have recently opened a new office in Stockholm, Sweden after going through the award-winning Swedish incubation program called Sting – Stockholm Innovation and Growth. Growing the team of ContentStudio, Waqar struggled to find competitive graduates from local universities. He shares,
“The biggest challenge of a tech company in Pakistan is to find good talent. The curriculum in universities is not updated. The world is talking about AI and Blockchain, unfortunately, local academia is not focusing on the skills required by the industry.”
A striking difference between NICs and international incubation opportunities
Before going through Sting, the team also participated in the incubation program at National Incubation Center, Islamabad. The experience of these two programs held stark difference for Waqar.
The Swedish program focused on enabling startups with the right skills to make money, whereas Waqar believes that the local program focused more on meeting its target of incubating startups and putting a vanity matrix in place and only assessing the progress of the startups depending upon their attendance in events and workshops.
“The end goal for every startup is to grow in terms of money and customers, this was lacking at NIC. The Swedish incubator was highly connected with the industry and authentic entrepreneurs were mentoring us, let’s say from Skype, Spotify and local startups. In Pakistan, however, we were being trained by corporates who had not kickstarted a company.”
The startup was awarded credits of Google and Amazon web services by the Swedish program, but earlier when the team approached the local incubator, it was unaware of such offers. Waqar’s experience in Sweden became more rich, knowing that Sting was closely connected with investors and more refined in terms of curriculum.
ContentStudio has been approached by a number of investors but the team currently prefers to bootstrap with just a convertible loan of $35,000 they received from Sting. Waqar tells,
“We are doing pretty well, we do not need investment right now nor we have raised one. At a later stage, if a compelling offer comes in, we will definitely consider it, but not actively looking for investments right now.”
Using Product Hunt to validate ideas and products
Waqar advises technopreneurs to explore Product Hunt and use it as a way to promote, gain feedback, and validate their products. He encourages young entrepreneurs in Pakistan to build SaaS products to meet the requirement of several use cases across diverse industries. He shares,
“When a startup like Uber booms, everyone wants to replicate the model, which isn’t entirely bad but there are dozens of other areas where we can make products and get foreign customers to use our products. I think Pakistani entrepreneurs need to focus more on building tech products that can help B2B sector in different verticals. This will not only help the local startup scene but also boost the economy by bringing foreign money into the country. In just a couple of years we have started to compete with recognized international players in our market and now have customers from around the world using our product.”
Currently, ContentStudio is working behind the scenes to launch a new product that will help businesses automate and monitor customer conversations on all online channels including social media, live chats, and websites. This unified communication platform will help businesses with online customer care fulfilment. The product will be ready to launch by September of this year.