Crawford Media First person

News app Inkl’s difficult journey

Gautam Mishra is the founder and CEO of Inkl, a Melbourne-based news aggregator that has been quietly building audience for the past seven years.

Years ago Mishra and his news app were mentioned to me by Jack Matthews, the former Fairfax Metro CEO, and I went and downloaded Inkl. Mishra had worked with Matthews at Fairfax, where he set up the paywalls on The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and Matthews was pretty enthusiastic about him. For whatever reason, the product wasn’t what I needed at that point, and I never got in contact.

Listen to the podcast here.

It turns out I wasn’t alone. Inkl was ahead of the curve, in that the pressure of news paywalls hadn’t kicked in for Australian audiences when it started in 2014, or even when I first used the app in 2016. But now things are different. As you’ll hear in the podcast, Inkl is building audience in the UK and US and Mishra is looking at putting money into marketing. The app solves a common problem for engaged audiences: a desire for a varied news diet, but an unwillingness to add more and more subscriptions to your personal pile.

The conversation with Mishra is fascinating. He’s thought about a lot of things that are central in the Crawford Media view of the world. For example, the importance of reducing cognitive load in product design, or the problems of building business models only around the most passionate segment of your audience.

Mishra is also surprisingly candid about just how difficult the Inkl journey has been, with venture capitalists pulling out of deals at the last minute and constant pressure to relocate to the US.