At a time when inclusivity is the buzz word and there are programs to spread awareness about the same, the duo believe that the best way forward is through stories. Being passionate about culture, Chetan Rexwal and Summit Nayak, co-founders of Ekank Technologies that launched ‘ThisDay’, a storytelling platform that aims to make history, art, culture, and heritage accessible to the masses through regional content, feel narrating stories of different people and regions, that have shaped the world into what it is right now in diverse regional languages is the best way forward.
Considering that the culture of a vast country like India is defined by the regions that represent it, Rexwal says that Ekank was launched to reimagine the way users discover and interact with historical content in an engaging way.
“While many are aware that Onam is a prominent festival celebrated in southern India, unfortunately, despite its scale, the knowledge about its nuances and significance is limited. Hence, the best way to narrate the historical importance of the festival would be through local storytellers who are well versed with the place’s culture, in their native tongue. We firmly believe that culture-led storytelling can only get its due on a vernacular platform. Our vision is to make history, art, culture, and heritage, accessible globally through local tales,” he adds.
Aiming to make culture and heritage-led storytelling mainstream through a combination of design, gamification, and creator-led content, Nayak says that the Pandemic has accelerated the rate of digital adoption across spheres.
“While storytelling has been a prominent part of our lives since the early days, rapid digitization, aided by smartphone penetration and digital proliferation, has enabled many content creators to pursue this as a full-time career or a part-time passion project. Also, the availability of regional social media and social commerce platforms are giving rise to a new generation of regional language content creators, who enjoy a large and loyal follower base owing to the common thread of language. This is also prompting brands to consider them as their endorsers and evangelists,” he says.
In fact their business model has shown an inversely proportional relationship with the pandemic. With the imposition of social distancing and Work-From-Home, people, increasingly, started spending time online. “This gave an impetus to our business. We added close to 10 million new users in the month of December 2021 and received very encouraging responses for the stories,” says Rexwal.
Considering storytelling is age, gender, and geography agnostic, their target audience ranges from local storytellers who could be as young as 19 or as old as 65, to global audiences across age who are looking to be privy to such fascinating cultural tales.
Admitting that short-format storytelling is very popular with new-age consumers, they stress that the new-age consumers do not refer to young audiences alone, and instead capture the ideals of changing consumer preferences of both conservatives and liberals, “There are many conventional hard copy fans who are slowly adapting to this changing format of storytelling through design, gamification, and a great content graph. Those who have shifted to this emerging medium understand the importance of the awareness and accessibility that only such platforms can provide. Books can be expensive – Buying an Rs 800 book is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, reading and listening to stories is for everyone. For the others who are expected to adapt at their own pace, we are also experimenting with long-format essays with a select group of people to see if they resonate with them,” says Nayak.
With a view to reaching a global audience through local tales, the due plan to add audio stories and enable visual storytelling on the platform in the near future.