Suchita Salwan launched Little Black Book, a local discoveries and recommendations platform (for places, services and events) in 2012 while she was still working at the BBC.
Here's a lesser known fact: LBB began as a tumbler blog. She began with an initial investment of Rs. 80,000. Today, she and her team have raised Rs.16.5 crore from Rajan Anandan (Google), Sachin Bhatia (MakeMyTrip), Indian Angel Network and IDG Ventures India, among others.
What she lacks in education ("I have a degree in Economics, which makes me the most unqualified person to launch a tech-media startup") she makes up for by reading as much as she can.
She said, "The book that prompted me to start LBB was 'Thinking Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman," specifically, a line that goes: 'what you see is all there is'. Suchita liked this phrase enough to get it tattooed on her wrist.
"Suchita Salwan was born and brought up in Delhi and have lived here my entire life. Like every other self-deprecating millennial, I'd call Delhi boring and think there's nothing to do here, and then go onto a Book My Show or a Zomato or a JustDial - but no one could really make this city exciting for me. That was the genesis of LBB. How do I make you a traveler in your city? How do I make you open my product and make you feel like Delhi is as fascinating as any other city you're thinking of travelling to." Suchita, who happens to be a rap music fan, by the way, then went on to describe her target audience in an interesting way: "The product is meant for people who are earning to spend - people whose idea of who they are and where they’re coming from is still a 'work in progress'."
Where does content fit into the LBB story? "People use content on LBB to make decisions. LBB is not an entertainment platform. While you can post on LBB, it's not used to laugh or giggle or share 'viral', fake news, and whatever else, within your community. It's a place where high-intent users come to make high-intent decisions, and that's what we've scaled over the past two and a half years, fairly actively. We pretty much change our product every six months," she said.
About the way she and her team approach the future of content, Suchita said, "People want a 'voice' in products, whether you're a news company or a local recommendations platform, or a platform like Instagram. Also, the idea of what 'entertainment' is, is changing faster than ever. Where people spend their money and time, and how they define themselves has changed too - it's no longer restricted to Bollywood; it's a combination of where you eat, what you drink, the clothes you wear, the experiences you have and the things that give you bragging rights and make you cool..."
The core strength of LBB, according to Suchita, lies in its community. "When we started out and when I was figuring out our monetisation strategy, I spent six months taking old, white people on tours to Lodhi Garden, Hauz Khas Village and the like. I capitalised on the information I had about the city. Things have changed since. Our revenue model is a lot more advanced now... as much as I'd still like to go out and explore the hidden nooks and corners of the city..." said Suchita.
Another book she has learnt a lot from is 'Shoe Dog' by Phil Knight, co-founder of Facebook and empires like Google, what really stands out is authenticity," said Suchita.