In the days of web 1.0, the claim was that content was king. Technology was critical, but no matter how good your technology might have been, people needed a reason to go online. While the promise was that content would be king, it was treated more like an ugly stepsister. That was then and this is now.
NewsCred, based in New York and Bangladesh, licenses content from 2,500 publishers, including The Washington Post, The Economist, The New York Times and Forbes, to other publications and brands. In fact, NewsCred has built the largest publisher network in the world, giving businesses unprecedented access to quality journalism.
But it was far from being a straight line to success. Founded in 2008 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the founders quickly dispersed to three corners of the planet in an attempt to launch their business: Shafqat Islam (CEO) to Geneva; Asif Rahman (Co-CTO) to Philadelphia and Iraj Islam (Co-CTO) remained in Dhaka, all quietly setting about to build a consumer-facing news site that would give readers the ability to rate, tag, comment, and vote on the quality and credibility of news. That is where the NewsCred name came from. It was a bold and ambitious challenge – and ultimately not suited as a scalable business. Iterating quickly, the team’s next move was to focus on building out the business’s two core assets: premium content and world class technology. The premise: if they could use technology to organize all the world’s news, they could build a company that would have an impact on the world.
After three years of perseverance, patience and constant iteration, NewsCred became the business that it is today, serving the needs of both publishers and marketers. They also relocated their headquarters to New York to be closer to their partners, customers and investors.
“You have to focus on some core innovation or asset,” Shafqat suggested. “We took a bet on premium content. We had no idea that content marketing would explode.”
Indeed it has and NewsCred is in the right place at the right time (they closed $15 million in Series B funding last month, led by Mayfield Fund; Greycroft Partners also participated in the round, as did existing investors FirstMark Capital and IA Ventures).
“Good companies can always raise money,” Shafqat said, and noted that it’s important to focus on revenue early.
Despite the fact that they now have programming teams in both New York and Dhaka, they haven’t abandoned their roots: “As three Bangladeshis, we’re proud to have built so much of our business in Dhaka, and pouring our energy, finances, heart and soul into the country we are so proud of,” the founding team notes on their website. “We built the biggest product company in Bangladesh,” Shafqat added.
He’s also very proud to be part of the burgeoning New York technology scene, and one of the companies that the industry here counts as another feather in its cap, no doubt especially since they’ve just raised such a large round.
New York has long been a content town, and NewsCred sees their mission as reinventing the way it’s distributed, consumed and shared across the social web, finally giving content, be it full-text articles, images or videos, its rightful place in the online world: as one of the jewels in the crown. Through all of their pivots, the team never strayed from their core purpose: to help journalism survive and thrive.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of time – and timing – and according to the man who never, ever gave up, “Sometimes you have to be patient and wait for the market to develop.”