Time is money. Why spend time looking for information, or reading really long articles or even watch every single episode of a TV drama when someone can summarize everything that you need to know for you? If it’s entertaining, even better! And all this is for free? This is the essence of PikiCast, a curated content service that started in 2014.
2. Company Evolution
Like many successful startups, PikiCast’s beginnings were modest. The co-founders began the service from a Facebook curated page which focused on uploading interesting content on a regular basis. Once the service began gaining traction, they expanded PikiCast as a mobile app and hired 70 content creators to work on providing unique content for the users.
PikiCast’s unique raw humor, affectionately nick-named as Byoung-mat (ill flavor) quickly caught on and the company witnessed a rapid user base growth. Though the service heavily curates already existing content, the editors have successfully created new trends, catchphrases and content serials that are so unique to PikiCast.
Usage statistics (* January 2015, ** March 2015 )
- Daily Active Users* (DAU): 1M+
- Monthly Active Users* (MAU): 6.5M+
- Monthly Content views*: 450M+
- Weekly Content Shares*: 250K
- App downloads**: 10M
- Average time spent per user per day**: 12.1 Minutes
What do these numbers mean?
- 60% people in the 10 -30 age group in Korea use PikiCast
- Page views are now higher than the leading newspaper in Korea (i.e. The Chosun Daily News) This is the equivalent of a mobile app getting more views than CNN.
- Weekly active users averaging 35-40% of total downloads.
- The app has a high retention rate and loyalty from its users and about one third of its users use it every day.
- Regarding daily usage, the app is now a strong number 2, trailing behind Facebook. Recent numbers show that the 12.1 minute number is now expected to reach 20 minutes, and may surpass Facebook.
<Average daily time spent per App>
The Value to users
PikiCast’s contents are mobile optimized with a simple, intuitive user interface. Users like the ease of use, and appreciate the intuitive approach for new content discovery. The card UX which allows categorization and personalized cards allow users to customize content to their own needs.
3. The Business Model
The company employs an ad model, which is mainly based on its user numbers. However, users are not aware that the service is an ad model as the company uses a “Native Ad” model or an indirect ad model and works directly with advertisers at the beginning of the content curation stage. This allows PikiCast to monetize without having banner ads at the bottom of every single page. Advertisers promote new movies, TV shows, or consumer goods through reviews, videos and other creatives.
PikiCast is famous for its celebrity relations. Tablo from Epik High, a popular Korean group first requested first hand that PikiCast interview him. The success of of this interview opened many doors for PikiCast and the company subsequently hired Eric Nam, a popular singer/reporter, to interview all the Hollywood stars who visited Korea on film promotions. The format of these interviews had the company mascot, the astronaut, greet celebrities at the airport, and have Eric Nam ask questions feeded from the users. The popularity of these celebrity interviews allowed the company to generate millions of views and obtain exclusives.
<Eric Nam and Noel Gallagher>
PikiCast is expanding its business model by providing other services. Partnerships with other media companies are a key medium for expansion.
- Vertical App: Malang Studio: Provider of daily services on areas such as health, daily blogging etc. PikiCast is collaborating with Malang Studio to strengthen its platform presence across various verticals.
- Web-toon content: Manhwa Family: Korea’s leading web-toon agency. With a new partnership with Manhwa Family, PikiCast is creating licensed web-toons and other web contents.
- Licensing: With a partnership with Majo Works (creator of Majo and Sady characters), PikiCast is creating its own unique characters, which they will also own and distribute the license.
4. Operation Model
Content Creation Process
PikiCast prides in having its own unique content creation, share process and strives to be Asia’s number 1 mobile content creator and curator. This process aligns with key questions (“What do people actually like seeing on mobile media?” and “What features to they react the most to?”) and is then combined with PikiCast’s unique humor and big data analysis.
- Idea/Curation: Based on big data and human sense, plan and select content from diverse media channels that best fit the Pikicast audience
- Creation/Customization: Specialist editors create curated content sprinkled with unique PikiCast humor
- Optimization: The content is then reprocessed to best fit the platform
- Publication: Content is published across PikiCast’s many terminals (App, social media etc.)
- Share: PikiCast users heart and share content
Teams at PikiCast are split into teams that support the creatives, and teams that support the business.
- Editorial Team: This team is the essence of PikiCast and they select which curated content gets shown.
- Video crew teams: PikiCast creates its own unique video contents and has a video crew solely dedicated to making these viral contents.
- News Room: This team is solely dedicated to summarizing daily news on one single page. Collaboration with Korea’s main media channels gives PikiCast the license to re-use content.
- Design Team: PikiCast’s in-house design team that designs the content pages and the overall layout.
- Service Planning: Groups all the content to curate, while also planning the new serials to create.
- Marketing: This team is responsible for directly communicating with the PikiCast users on the app and social media pages
- R&D: The developer team that works non-stop in developing the app
- Ad Creative: Works directly with advertisers and own the relationship
- Business strategy: Creates new partnerships and business opportunities
The Korean mobile market has a very simple rule – Who will capture the attention of the millions of commuters going to and from work? PikiCast has done an excellent job so far and the market agrees. The company recently won a 5 Billion won (5 Million dollars) investment which will be used to strengthen the company’s marketing efforts. There are also rumors of Yello Mobile, PikiCast’s parent company, having an IPO in 2016. Though the profits are not noticeable yet, the market share PikiCast is capturing is extremely prominent, and it is highly likely that the company will roll-out innovative services once they have amassed a significant user base.