Sharmin Ali, Founder & CEO, Instoried

Instoried helps large companies make their marketing and communications content more human with a data-driven, scalable and repeatable approach using AI, leading to an increased ROI.

Mar 31, 2021 01:03 IST India Infoline News Service

Sharmin is responsible for driving strategy, leadership and sales as the Founder & CEO at Instoried. Prior to deep-diving into a technology startup with Instoried, Sharmin had founded a media startup to build India’s own Netflix. Prior to that she was with Mu Sigma, working in sales with Fortune 500 companies in the US. Sharmin holds a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communications. She has received an honor from the HRD Ministry of India and COWE Womennovator under Innovation and Entrepreneurship category and won the best product and best innovation under the startup category by The Economic Times Innotribe Awards in Mumbai. Instoried is at the cusp of Sharmin’s love for storytelling and a background in technology. Sharmin is an author of two books, the first one 'Y.O.U' that was announced a best-seller by The New Indian Express & the Oxford bookstores. Her second book, titled 'How I was forced to become a staunch RACIST', released recently. She has also spoken at various TEDx events and international platforms.

In an interaction with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com Sharmin Ali, Founder & CEO, Instoried said, "Instoried has product offerings for both enterprises and individuals globally. So it could be a content creator, blogger, journalist or a writing enthusiast, all of who can use the Instoried platform". 

Tell us about how Instoried started?

I was working with a technology company and interacting with Fortune 500 companies in the USA. I love stories – writing and reading both. My experience gave me a few insights -  that even large corporations are poor at communicating, they have a tough time building human connections and communicating with empathy. Also, they make marketing decisions based on how they feel they should communicate instead of using data. That’s where I stepped in with Instoried.

Instoried helps large companies make their marketing and communications content more human with a data-driven, scalable and repeatable approach using AI, leading to an increased ROI.
 
How does the technology at Instoried work?

Instoried is a deep-tech platform that analyzes and predicts the emotional quotient, tonality and relevance of written content across formats like blogs, articles, social media posts.

Instoried uses a data-driven approach using their proprietary AI driven technology to make real time analysis and suggestions  to enhance  content to increase engagement and interest for the reader. This leads to more clicks and as a result higher ROI for brands, creating a direct impact on sales and revenues for companies.  Instoried uses the principles of neuromarketing to offer smart recommendations to increase or decrease a particular emotion in the content.

Instoried’s APIs can be easily integrated into any platform that brands may already be using. 

The Instoried tool enables real-time recommendations on improving the tone and emotion score of the content. The tool has other aspects as well - headline analysis tool to tell how captivating the headline really is and provide suggestions as well as a plagiarism checker to make the content piece SEO friendly, among others.
 
Who is the target audience of Instoried platform? How does it benefit them?

Instoried has product offerings for both enterprises and individuals globally. So it could be a content creator, blogger, journalist or a writing enthusiast, all of who can use the Instoried platform. Anyone in the content creation space can now use our app to curate their content pieces, be it a social media post, an email or blog,  to make it suit the ideal tone and emotion of their target audience. One can enjoy unlimited recommendations, unlimited analysis on unlimited pieces of content as a complimentary demo till the 1st week of April, 2021
Their platform helps content writers, in the SME category, e-commerce, FMCG, and other verticals to optimize emotions in their marketing content.
Instoried’s customers have witnessed up to 3X increase in incoming leads per post and 2X rise in ROI in less than 6 months.
 
How has the pandemic affected your business?

Our growth post the lockdown has been manifold as businesses, irrespective of their size or location, have been forced to go online. Today, an online customer contributes much more than a customer visiting the store physically.
With people now almost used to the new normal, the digital boom is here to stay as I see good growth opportunities. We have grown 5X during the lockdown.
 
What do you think is the future of content marketing in the new normal?

The future of content creators across platforms is definitely bright in this new normal. The recently released list of LinkedIn titled 'Jobs on the rise’ lists freelance content creators, marketing, social media and digital marketing, among others as jobs that will present better opportunities in the years to come. Top of the list are content creators, who use creative storytelling skills to produce entertaining content such as podcasts, Youtubers, bloggers and content coordinators are expected to grow. With India expected to have over 760 million smartphone users in 2021, demand for local and relevant content is only going to grow in 2021.
 
What were the challenges you faced?

We faced a lot of challenges. To start with, the biggest challenge was to get the right team in place. I have known Sutanshu for over a decade, so I knew that I could blindly trust him. While I was trying to get the funds, Sutanshu was more focused on building the technology. As the first few members in the team set the setting stone of the company, we were very sure to hire the best minds available. Sutanshu must have screened over 500 and interviewed over 300 people to get the first 10 employees. My focus was to ensure that they have the right mindset as the right attitude is what sets them apart. So Sutanshu used to check their skill-sets and I used to focus on their psychology. Second challenge was of course the funds. We did everything we could in our capacity to infuse funds into the company. I broke my PPF and sold my gold jewellery. Sutanshu borrowed money from his wife and friends. Sutanshu and I did not draw any salary for over 1 year, just to save money. Finally, we were able to close a round of funding.
 
What are your future plans?
 
We have now entered into the B2C space after being only B2B last year. We aim to make the concept of ‘adding empathy into content’ a part of daily communication by focusing on mobile devices, both android and iOS. Since content is a global and day-to-day phenomenon, it’s only commonplace to ensure that we communicate with empathy on every social media platform. The importance of adding empathy cannot be underestimated or overlooked.

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