Nishanth KS: Composing the Future of Audio Storytelling

Storytelling is an ancient art that has evolved into diverse forms over time. With the advent of cutting-edge technologies, storytelling has evolved significantly, and Pocket FM, an audio content app, is at the forefront of this evolution. Pocket FM has revolutionised the audio entertainment landscape by reinvigorating the Indian storytelling tradition and adapting it to the digital age. The platform has become a category creator, offering serialised audio content that has captivated a global audience. Nishanth KS, as a co-founder and the COO, played a crucial role in this transformation. His strategic decisions, from shifting away from user-generated content to focusing on serialised audio series, have been instrumental in Pocket FM’s success.

Nishanth’s journey as the co-founder and COO of Pocket FM is a story of resilience, innovation, and vision. His story begins with his academic foundation, where he sharpened his skills and knowledge. An alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Nishanth KS undertook a path that led him to reshape the audio entertainment landscape. The inception of Pocket FM can be traced back to a moment of realisation that the audio content market in India was ripe for innovation. Nishanth and his co-founders, Rohan Nayak and Prateek Dixit, identified a gap in the non-music audio entertainment sector. Their initial hypothesis was to build a platform based on user-generated content (UGC), but this model failed to gain traction in the real market.

Undiscouraged by the initial setbacks, the trio shifted towards podcasts, a model that had seen success in developed markets. However, this too did not fit their vision for Pocket FM. It was challenging, with the company struggling to attract fresh funding. The breakthrough came when the founders decided to bet on serialised audio content or audio series—a category they would eventually redefine. This shift proved to be the turning point for Pocket FM, as it tapped into the rich tradition of storytelling prevalent in Indian culture. 

Nishanth’s vision for Pocket FM was clear – to redefine the entertainment space with an audio-first approach. The platform focused on offering content with unique storytelling elements and content personalisation that promoted binge listening. Nishanth aimed to make Pocket FM the “Netflix of audio OTT platforms,” releasing binge-able long-format series to keep listeners hooked.

Nishanth’s impact on the organisation has been profound. Under his leadership, Pocket FM has grown into a global company that billions of people tune into from several parts of the world. The platform has raised substantial investments, totalling US$109.5 million from prominent backers, and has become a driving force in the audio storytelling category. He has been instrumental in Pocket FM’s growth, which has seen its revenue for the year ending March 2024 rise 6–7X over the previous year and is set to cross Rs 1,000 crore ($120 million). The company’s valuation is on track to achieve a $1 billion valuation by 2024, a goal declared by the founders in town hall meetings. 

Despite the success, Nishanth and his team have remained grounded and focused on fine-tuning their business model, especially in monetisation strategies. They have introduced innovative approaches like microtransactions, which have witnessed over 20 million transactions globally in 2023 alone. 

His journey with Pocket FM is not just about building a successful company; it’s about creating a cultural phenomenon that has redefined audio storytelling. His story is of a visionary leader who, along with his team, persevered through challenges and emerged triumphant, setting a new standard in the audio entertainment industry. From the initial struggles to the triumphant establishment of a new category in audio entertainment, his story inspires budding entrepreneurs and industry veterans alike. As Pocket FM continues to expand its global footprint, Nishanth’s role as a co-founder and his contributions to the organisation will be remembered as pivotal in revolutionising how we consume audio content. His achievements and the accolades he has received along the way are well-deserved markers of a journey characterised by relentless pursuit and visionary leadership.

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