PayTunes, a digital audio advertising company, was established in 2015 by Gaurav Tiwari, Saurabh Tiwari, Divya Pratap Singh, and Rakesh Sehgal. Their remarkable journey to becoming a market leader in the Indian digital audio advertising industry is a testament to their resilience, adaptability, and innovative spirit.
The Promising Launch
PayTunes began its journey as a ringtone app that enabled users to monetize their ringtones by displaying ads from various brands. After securing $100,000 from CIO Angel Network (CAN) in October 2015, the app gained significant traction and garnered almost half a million downloads by March 2016. To keep up with its growth and sustain its operations, PayTunes raised an additional $500,000 from Indian Angel Network (IAN) in its second round of funding.
The Challenges and Adaptations
PayTunes’ used initial funding from IAN to reach 1.5 million downloads by the end of 2016, but minimal revenue quickly revealed the unsustainability of its business model. The company pivoted its focus to CallerTune (AdRBT) advertising, leading to the departure of IAN investors and co-founder Rakesh Sehgal. The absence of revenue and remaining funding from IAN placed the company in a challenging predicament.
PayTunes’ remaining co-founders, Gaurav Tiwari, Saurabh Tiwari, and Divya Pratap Singh, shifted their attention to CallerTune advertising as a viable business model, partnering with Aircel, Vodafone, and BSNL, while Airtel launched a competing service. Despite generating some revenue, it was barely enough to cover Team salaries, and in FY 2016-17, PayTunes revenue was less than 50 Lacs, which was unsustainable.
The telecom industry saw the rise of Jio in FY 2017-18, leading to the Aircel shutdown and the merger between Vodafone and Idea, causing a scarcity of CallerTune advertising inventory for PayTunes to sell. Jio’s offer of free CallerTunes made it challenging for PayTunes to find a platform to run ads, leading to a revenue slightly higher than 50 Lacs. Due to the bleak revenue outlook, co-founder Divya Pratap Singh left the company, leaving only two co-founders, Gaurav Tiwari and Saurabh Tiwari.
The Catastrophic Downturn
In the first half of the fiscal year 2018-19, PayTunes had no revenue and had lost all of its teams except for the co-founders with their knowledge of Indian audio ad Industry as the only remaining asset. By the end of the fiscal year, the company generated slightly over 50 Lacs in revenue, but the investors, CAN, chose to exit the business due to three consecutive years of revenue stagnation.
The Remarkable Comeback
In 2018-19, PayTunes faced a period of inactivity until co-founders Gaurav Tiwari and Saurabh Tiwari realised the untapped potential of digital audio advertising in India. They partnered with major music streaming platforms like Gaana, Wynk, and JioSaavn to create a platform that played audio ads between songs. Soon Spotify launched in India and was added to PayTunes’ stable. With the creation of a groundbreaking technology called the Demand Side Platform (DSP), PayTunes could identify when users were listening to music on their phones and play targeted ads without interrupting their experience. This innovation led to PayTunes becoming the top digital audio advertising company in India, reaching over 250 million unique users across various platforms and generating revenue for advertisers through personalised and targeted audio ads.
Currently, PayTunes is a thriving company boasting a team of over 50 employees. With the addition of Shashank Singla as a tech co-founder last year, the company has bolstered its technical capabilities, positioning itself as a formidable global product company with readiness for future expansion.
Paytunes’ Journey: Perseverance Pays Off
The story of PayTunes and its founders is an impressive source of inspiration. With consistent pivoting and adaptation to the evolving market, they transformed a simple idea into a flourishing business. Their innovative mindset and unwavering determination enabled them to outpace the competition and establish themselves as the leading company in the digital audio advertising industry. Their triumph underscores the significance of resilience, flexibility, and ingenuity in entrepreneurial endeavours.
PayTunes a Journey of Resilience- Yourstory V2
In 2015, Gaurav Tiwari, Saurabh Tiwari, Divya Pratap Singh, and Rakesh Sehgal founded PayTunes, a digital audio advertising company. Their journey to become a market leader in the Indian digital audio advertising industry showcases their resilience, adaptability, and innovative mindset.
The Great Beginnings
Initially, PayTunes launched as a ringtone app that allowed users to monetize their ringtones with ads from various brands. In October 2015, the company raised $100,000 from CIO Angel Network (CAN). By March 2016, the app went viral, and PayTunes amassed nearly 500,000 downloads. Due to exhausting the seed funding, the company raised its second investment round of $500,000 from Indian Angel Network (IAN).
The Struggles and Pivots
The first tranche of IAN funding was allocated to achieve 1.5 Million downloads by the end of 2016. However, with negligible revenue generated, the founders and investors acknowledged the unsustainability of the business model. As a result, they pivoted the company’s focus to CallerTune (AdRBT) advertising. Following this pivot, the IAN investors and co-founder Rakesh Sehgal decided to depart from the company. Without any revenues or remaining funding from IAN, the company was left in a difficult situation.
PayTunes, with its remaining co-founders Gaurav Tiwari, Saurabh Tiwari, and Divya Pratap Singh, decided to focus on CallerTune advertising as a viable business model. They partnered with Aircel, Vodafone, and BSNL for this purpose, while Airtel launched a competing service. The company started generating some revenue, although it was barely enough to cover the salaries of the sales, operations, and tech teams. Despite this, CallerTunes had the potential to be a significant business in India due to its extensive reach. However, in the fiscal year 2016-17, PayTunes’ revenue was less than 50 Lacs, which was unsustainable for the team.
During the fiscal year 2017-18, the strong emergence of Jio in the telecom industry led to the shutdown of Aircel and the merger between Vodafone and Idea. This sudden development caused a scarcity of CallerTune advertising inventory for PayTunes to sell since Jio offered free CallerTunes. Consequently, PayTunes faced another slump as it had advertisers but no platform to run CallerTune ads. In that year, the company generated revenue slightly higher than 50 Lacs. Due to the bleak revenue outlook, co-founder Divya Pratap Singh decided to leave the company, leaving only two co-founders, Gaurav Tiwari and Saurabh Tiwari, with the company.
During the first two quarters of the fiscal year 2018-19, PayTunes had no revenue and no teams left. The only assets left were the co-founders’ knowledge of audio ad sales. By the end of the fiscal year, the company generated revenue slightly higher than 50 Lacs. The investors, CAN, decided to exit the business as the revenue stagnated for three consecutive years.
After a period of inactivity in the fiscal year 2018-19, the remaining co-founders of PayTunes (Gaurav Tiwari and Saurabh Tiwari) leveraged their expertise in digital audio ad sales. They identified the unexplored potential of digital audio advertising in India and set out to build a platform that would enable advertisers to reach consumers through music streaming platforms. To achieve this, they partnered with Gaana, Wynk, and JioSaavn (formerly known as Saavn) to play audio ads between songs on these apps.
PayTunes’ next pivot was the creation of a technology called Demand Side Platform (DSP), which could identify when a user was listening to music on their phone and play an audio ad. This technology was groundbreaking because it enabled advertisers to reach consumers in a non-intrusive and targeted way while they were enjoying an activity they liked.
PayTunes continued to improve its platform and received a significant boost during the Covid lockdown in 2021. Today, it is the top digital audio advertising company in India with a clear leadership position in the industry. PayTunes’ platform reaches over 250 million unique users across various music streaming platforms, in-game audio advertising and podcasts, generating revenue for advertisers through personalised and targeted audio ads.
At present, PayTunes is a profitable company with a team of over 50+ employees. With Shashank Singla joining Paytunes last year as a tech co-founder, Paytunes has strengthened the technical depth of its offerings making it a globally competitive product company ready for future growth. The company plans to introduce innovative technology solutions in the audio advertising industry soon.
The journey of PayTunes and its founders is truly inspiring. They were able to turn a simple idea into a thriving business by constantly pivoting and adapting to the changing market. Their perseverance and innovative mindset allowed them to stay ahead of the competition and become a market leader in the digital audio advertising industry. Their success is a testament to the importance of being resilient, adaptable, and creative when building a business.