The Internet has changed consumer habits. Customers are no longer content to merely follow celebrity endorsements or believe benefits touted in advertisements. In a time, not too long ago, individuals would have reached out to friends and family for recommendations but now, prefer to go online. Real Reviews attempts to bring back the human element to the faceless interactions of the Internet by creating a platform for video product reviews by the everyday consumer. Established by Deepak Dhingra, Uttarika Kumaran, Malvika Tegta and Pallavi Dhingra, Real Reviews is committed to sharing honest reviews across a range of products categories. We chat with them about their venture. An Excerpt from the Interview • What made you start your venture? Real Reviews started as a conversation about being fed up with celebrity endorsements and the incompleteness of traditional advertising. We have companies telling us about their latest products and how good and effective they are, but there was no platform for actual end users to talk about their experience with these products. In the pre-internet days, what your friends and family had to say about a product would usually be the deciding factor in your purchase. Today, in an age where we spend more time online than with people we know, Real Reviews seeks to recreate this personal, word-of-mouth experience through online video reviews of real consumers. Of course, there are consumer reviews out there and many on video, but they’re often poorly executed and there still aren’t many Indian faces you see reviewing products from a local perspective. And we needed a format and style powerful enough to match the perceived authority of a TVC. On Real Reviews, honest, real consumers – not celebrities, not ‘experts’ – share their unique user experiences on video that looks as good as any TV ad – only it’s authentic! That’s what makes us the first website to do anything like this. Additionally, our reviewers share their product experience following a few weeks or months of use – that makes our video reviews more reliable than hands-on videos or expert reviews which focus heavily on tech specs rather than practical user experience. From the industry perspective, Real Reviews serves as a channel for product companies who want to engage with consumers at a more meaningful level – not just through promotional offers and giveaways (which we also do), but also through sponsored content that adds value to the lives of their target consumers and in turn, enriches their brand value. • What has been the key to your business’ success? The key to our success has been patience. Instead of acting on every impulse to expand the scope and reach of Real Reviews, we’ve waited to see the idea grow organically and gauge people’s response to it. All our subsequent moves have been informed by the feedback we’ve received from consumers. • What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome? When we started Real Reviews, and almost a year into its existence, we continued with our regular jobs, at the same time collecting user experiences and posting them to the website. We already had the skills and the initial investment wasn’t too high either. It was effort for the sake of the idea. But then, we were often asked, ‘What’s your revenue model?’ And for the longest time, we didn’t have one. The challenge then was not to give into pressure to monetize and let the vision organically take form. Today, we’re actively tying up with companies to create conversations around their products on the condition that they will not be doctored or compromised in any way. As a result, we’ve attracted companies that believe in the products they sell and are ready to hear negative feedback as well. And it’s not just small companies but also big corporations, like Procter & Gamble India who sponsored a product giveaway for Real Reviews members and even used one of our video reviews in their YouTube promotions! We’ve also had people telling us, ‘All your reviews sound too nice.’ To them, the reviews on our site weren’t controversial, negative enough! As a policy, we’ve never provoked our reviewers to push negatives if there aren’t any. In fact, people, in our experience, are mindful of talking about a product’s shortcomings in a responsible manner. Reviewing on video makes a big difference – the cloak of anonymity offered by text reviews makes people unthinkingly critical and dismissive. Video demands integrity on the part of our reviewers. • Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business? There is no one external to the team. Within our core team, Deepak Dhingra is the guiding force and strategist. • Have you benefited from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? We’re a classic example of having gained from the democratisation of not just content distribution media that is the internet, but also of new filmmaking tools. DSLRs and portable audio & lighting equipment help us maintain professional video quality. All our editing and post-production is also done in-house. • What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion? Our strategy has been ‘credibility’ through and through. We believe that is and will continue to be the core attribute that drives the Real Reviews brand. It is this value that has attracted both consumers and companies to us, and will continue to in the future. • What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Most important is an attitude of service – how can we be of value to consumers and companies who come to us seeking a solution. When business interactions are human, the bottom-line takes care of itself. Consistency is key – even when things are seemingly in a deadlock, to put in the same sincere effort as we did on Day 1. For this, an unflinching belief in the brand you’ve created is crucial. We believe these core attitudes are more important than any skills you will inevitably pick up as you mature into a seasoned entrepreneur. Visit their Website: http://realreviews.in Like their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/realreviewsindia
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