Karan Joshi Founder @WeAreMumbai On Starting Up India’s First Rotation Curation Twitter Account

Interview with Karan Joshi, Founder of @WeAreMumbai, India's first rotation curation Twitter account, that gives a common platform for Mumbaikars to speak to their citizens

Wouldn’t it be interesting to look at our city from a different perspective every week? Imagine being informed about the diverse sights and sounds of our city from the eyes of its myriad dwellers. Well, the process is already in action with @WeAreMumbai - India’s first rotation curation Twitter account that completes a year today. Every week the Twitter account paints a different picture of Mumbai through the 140-character tweets by each of its curators.

After having been ideated in a Mumbai local train by the 21-year old Karan Joshi, the handle was registered on the 29th of September, 2012. Karan - who goes by the handle of @thatdarkcoffee on Twitter - is the one-man army who handles the complete operations of WeAreMumbai. For an idea that originated in a local train, grew up along with the city and has brought a common platform to reach out to Mumbaikars, WeAreMumbai has come a long way.

On the occasion of its first anniversary, we caught up with Founder Karan Joshi to know the story behind @WeAreMumbai, what rocks it and the road ahead.

“This all started in a local train. Yes, Mumbai local train, when I just thought of registering the handle @WeAreMumbai. The whole idea of this account was to give a platform to Mumbaikars to speak about their own city to their own people. Though the long term focus is on tourism and I am working on it.”

Karan Joshi WeareMumbai

Vinaya Naidu: How does it work? Do you invite curators you think can represent the city or can any Mumbaikar apply? What are the guidelines for a curator, number of tweets, etc.?

Karan Joshi: I generally ask people to curate the account via Twitter only. I have no personal contacts with many of them, but these curators are kind enough to be the voice of Mumbai. I’ve got some real influential and famous people on board for curation like @mojorojo, @roshanabbas, @anaggh, @kiranmanral and many others!

The whole idea is to have curators from every walk of life. For example, @anujadeora is a food blooger, so she spoke about the food in Mumbai. Similarly, @kiranmanral spoke about women’s safety in the city. So, I try covering every aspect of the city. There are no such guidelines for the curators. Just that they should not use abusive language. They are free to talk anything related to Mumbai.

VN: How has the response been from the people of Mumbai? Any memorable incidents that you would like to share.

KJ: Response has been amazing. We just complete a year today and we are already close to 16000 followers strong. It is quite a big number to achieve in a year. The whole progress is organic, and that’s what I love about WeAreMumbai. People are attached to it. People are proud of WeAreMumbai. What else would I want!

I have many memorable moments. Like, I love how WeAreMumbai helps people in getting blood donated, or even helping them find a cheaper place for them to go on a date to updating them about the traffic. These small things make WeAreMumbai what it is.

VN: When did you think of integrating with brands? Share any one exciting brand association till date.

KJ: It all started in just the second week. WeAreMumbai was just about 500 followers strong when @MadOverDonuts thought of giving donuts to the winners of our first quiz #WeAreMumbaiQuiz. After that brands like @PepsiIndia, @StarSportsIndia, @HomeShop18, JW Marriot and more.

I love how the way John Abraham (Manya Surve from the movie ShootOut at Wadala) took over the account for a day and was talking like the Mumbai Don with other Mumbaikars on WeAreMumbai. That was really interesting!

VN: Events have also formed a feature at @WeAreMumbai. Are you bringing the online and offline connect with brand integration?

KJ: Yes, we have done quite some offline events too, like WeAreMumbai was the outreach partner for Kalaghoda festival, Wassup Andheri and college festivals like Blitzkrieg too.. But I am looking for something more than just outreaching. WeAreMumbai will now do much more events. Brands can connect to us for their events.

VN: Running a rotation curation Twitter account has its own challenges. How do you tackle them? And with brands coming into picture, how are you maintaining sanity as it is quite easy to be ruined on a platform like Twitter?

KJ: Yes, managing a rotation curation account has its own challenges from finding the curators to coming up with useful and fun hashtags, it is difficult. But, with such amazing curators, conversations just flow in.

And I don’t see any problem with brands joining in. Most of the times, whenever brand is associated for a contest of promotion, the contest is just related to Mumbai and nothing else. Brands are just giving away freebies to the winners. So for example we did #AapanYannaPahilatKa photo contest in which we tweeted pictures of various infamous locations of Mumbai and asked people to guess it and @OttoInfinito gave away the prizes to the winners. So, every brand association has a Mumbai connect to it, so followers actually enjoy and interact more with us.

VN: What is the road ahead for @WeAreMumbai and any plans for moving to other cities too?

KJ: The road ahead is already in under construction. WeAreMumbai is coming up with a content website for Mumbaikars, where they will find every information about the city. From road side shopping to reviews of the 5 star restaurants to planning their weekend, everything! We are looking for content writers for this. Also, in the offline space, WeAreMumbai has a plan of opening a cafe in Mumbai which would completely be a Twitter cafe. We are looking for investors for that though.

WeAreMumbai is surely on a roll with exciting plans ahead. In case you are interested, the one-man army is on the lookout for some passionate Mumbaikars to help WeAreMumbai in terms of designing, content and management. We wish Karan and his endeavour all the best.