The sudden demise of the popular Google Reader earlier this year led to the birth of multiple readers. Being a blogger my entire work depended on Google Reader so when Feedly provided the same services with a better user experience I moved on to it. However, while reviewing Feedspot, I realized that the startup had more to it than just being labeled as yet another RSS reader.
“Feedspot today is a Google Reader plus Google Alerts with the features of a social network,” shared Anuj Agarwal, CoFounder Feedspot, who always wanted to build a consumer internet product that has a global impact. Anuj informed me that in the ongoing journey he has found support from Vineet Agarwal, the other co-founder. In fact Feedspot has been the brainchild of Vineet, who is donning the cool hat in the pic.
The startup is managed by two teams from Mumbai and California. The Mumbai team looks after the engineering of the product and the California team is responsible for the reader’s minimalistic design and also adds up to the advisory role.
While talking further with Anuj, who has a Masters in CS from University of San Francisco, I was informed that the demise of Google Reader didn’t lead to the evolution of Feedspot. The social RSS reader was in fact in the market from last year but the co founder does agree that the shutting down of the Google product did help Feedspot.
“When we started our objective was to make news discovery, following the site and consumption easier. This led to creation of a news feed so the inbox is not cluttered,” added Anuj while talking about the initial objective of Feedspot.
Similarities with Google Reader and other competitors
With this the product started adding up features like better discovery of content, follow them, intelligent recommendation and following them at the same time. However, it was a mere coincidence that their evolution as a RSS reader and the shutting down of Google Reader happened at the same time.
“Google Reader allowed you to follow news and Google Alerts allowed you to track news and Feedspot brings them at one place,” stated the proud co founder, who is well aware of similar products in the market but that is not deterring him in making Feedspot better.
But then the design looks so similar to the old reader when today people are more hooked up to the design that Flipboard provides. Was it a conscious decision, was my question to Anuj?
“Design has been user feedback. At our end we have focused on how can users read more in less time. However, the design that Google Reader had was never marketed to the mainstream media which we intend to crack.”
Features like intelligent discovery of content, curation of content depending on folder structure and tuning the social features incorporated in the product will be the key differentiation for the product that faces competition from the likes of Feedly, Digg, etc.
Future product enhancements
With 150,000 users on board, the startup is working at launching much required mobile apps and at the same time the objective is to address international languages other than English. International version such as Japanese and Russian versions are already in place. Today the startup is also seeing a good percentage of returning visitors from India and Anuj wants to build on it by reaching out to the student community in the country.
While talking about the Premium version of Feedspot, Anuj shared that right now they have decided to list all features, free including removing restrictions on search and automating social sharing.
“We are concentrating on more business use cases, one example could be the keyword tracking feature which could evolve into a premium version of Feedspot,” he said while not divulging other developments in the premium version.
Feedspot, with existing features and the integration of social feature which allows following like-minded people based on the content consumption and related activities, opens up the RSS reader market wide open.