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Data security, troll-proofing: How Rizzle is changing the short video app game

The app's co-founder says it is focused on original, user-generated episodic content.


MUMBAI: It was something like serendipity when Vidya Narayanan and Lakshminath Dondeti crossed paths at chip-making giant Qualcomm, realised their true passion and in June 2019 floated a video creating and sharing platform called Rizzle. And it was perhaps serendipity again that when the start-up marked its first anniversary, the Indian government pulled the plug on TikTok, the biggest bully in the short-video app playground. Overnight, Rizzle's fortunes rose and the platform reportedly witnessed a 100X surge in user projections.

Now, Rizzle is the official auditioning partner of the fifth edition of Dancing Super Star. Despite the pandemic putting a halt to many things, Rizzle wants to be a ray of hope for artists and performers. Dancing Super Star has collaborated with the short video format app to ensure it penetrates every region demographically to provide an opportunity for everyone to showcase their talent by conducting virtual auditions through the platform.

In a candid conversation with indiantelevision.com’s Shikha Singh, Rizzle CEO & co-founder Vidya Narayanan spoke at length about Rizzle’s association with Dancing Super Star and much more.

Edited excerpts:

On reaching every region.

We believe that everyone is talented and can become a creator. All that is needed is a little nudge in the right direction. By serving the right mix of content in English as well as regional languages that appeal to different audiences and contests to spur creativity, we aim to reach India’s diverse demography. Our personalised feed where users can define their content preferences is another major contributing factor.

On the user base and demographic of Rizzle.

Rizzlians are a community of unique individuals hailing from different backgrounds: be it actors or filmmakers, YouTubers or creators, stand-up artists or vloggers, musicians or DJs, everyone is welcome to join our tribe.

Our focus lies in original, user-generated content – something which nobody else is doing in the space. The Rizzle community welcomes every existing and aspiring creator. We love a good piece of original content!

On the audition process of Dancing Super Star.

The pandemic has forced many things to shift online, including auditions. Our association with Dancing Super Star season five lets participants upload their audition videos on Rizzle. All they need to do is register on our app, go to the explore screen and then select DSS5 in the ‘ongoing contests’ section. They can enrol themselves in the contest and upload a minimum of three audition videos using the hashtag #dss5 and share them on WhatsApp.

On the user response to the tie-up.

To be honest, the responses are overwhelming. There are several tens of thousands of entries already. The talent is glaring and it is evident that we are moving towards a creator-led economy.

On its strategy.

When we launched Rizzle two years back, we were committed to one overarching goal in mind that anyone can create compelling, engaging, and original talk shows and series on a smartphone. We set out to democratise the creation and consumption of content.

Our creator-first philosophy has led us to supply an entire ecosystem of support and resources for content creators. Rizzle distinguishes itself on the fact that we’re focused squarely on original, user-generated episodic content, which nobody else is doing in this vertical. To lay it down, we’re democratising Bollywood-style content creation.

During the pandemic where the entertainment industry’s production houses are slowing down and mainline auditions ground to a halt, Rizzle provides an incredible opportunity to rising actors, filmmakers, and video creators. Additionally, with associations like the one we have with Dancing Super Star, Rizzle also acts as a portfolio for all talented and budding creators where they can not only flaunt their talent but also hone their skills. From in-app design tools to licensed background music, free acting, and dance classes as well as production support, we’re ensuring creators can achieve their dreams of stardom.

On technological innovations.

Our focus has constantly been on product innovation and it is still the same. We introduced green screen which allows users to edit the video background behind the actor/presenter. For example, if a creator wants to film an episode set in the snow but they’re in tropical India, they can edit a wintery background with the green screen feature. The visual effects are fancy animations and filters such as bubbles or confetti that make videos more fun, relevant, and visually appealing than usual. We plan on introducing more such user-friendly features in the future.

On the app’s safety features.

Data security has been Rizzle’s top-most priority and will continue to be so. We have stayed away from ‘chats' and 'comments' features since inception to troll-proof the creators. Our decision to refrain from a chat section comes at a juncture when social media platforms across the world are grappling with issues of user safety. Comment sections on social media apps have inadvertently become a playground for trolls and bullying creators.

Additionally, our strong three-strike policy “quarantines” an account for 48 hours followed by a permanent ban if any user violates the terms and conditions, supports obscenity, or posts harassing videos. Rizzle keeps the keyboard warriors and trolls away and is focused on building a positive community that listens, speaks, argues, debates, and supports.

On enhancing the in-app user experience.

Our USP is user-generated short series in vertical format. Rizzle is a playground for people who are serious about creating and want to build a name for themselves. It’s a repository of original content. We at Rizzle, are constantly focusing on creating a user-friendly, smooth, and feature-rich app that’s a trend-setter in the field of creative content. Our amazing team of engineers and marketers put in their best brains to make Rizzle impeccable.

On revolutionising content consumption for audiences.

With people having smartphones supported by data, they have access to a variety of content. Rizzle presents the next evolution in video - short, vertical series. 10 to 12 minute series that are custom made for consumption on one’s mobile phones on the go. One need not spend hours and days binging series by purchasing special subscription packages. On Rizzle, you can binge entertaining shows and series for free in under 15 minutes

On current trends in this space.

Vertical short series is a game-changer in the industry. So definitely keep an eye out for that. Not to forget, features like green screen, picture-in-picture are all going to create quite the stir in the content creation game.

On Rizzle’s plans for growth and expansion.

We aim to scale in India especially in the south. Our recent licensing deals with Aditya Music and Sony Music Entertainment have enabled creators’ access to diverse music. We respect each culture, and in practice, we ensure that we connect with the region’s audience in their own language via our ‘studios’ initiative where we host free acting and dance classes for everyone.

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