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Interview: Santanu Das, Founder, MachPrinciple.com


Every entrepreneurship journey has its own story. The entrepreneurship journey of Santanu Das, founder of MachPrinciple.com is quite interesting and at the same time inspiring. After getting rejected by a journal in publishing his research work, Santanu decided to come up with a social networking platform where every scientist can publish and promote their research work. Santanu quickly realized the need of a social platform where scientists can promote their work and science enthusiasts can learn about research related affairs globally. MachPrinciple.com is a professional network that is specially created to fulfill that need.

In creating the platform Santanu’s brother was the only helping hand in the first initial days. His brother developed the initial codes for the blogging website in 2015. They slowly grew the blog and then he thought of developing it as a social networking platform.  The first version of the social networking site was launched in December 2018.  

Several additional features are built on MachPrinciple.com to create values for students and researchers by helping them to share their presentations, writing feedback about their institute, finding conferences, etc. Everyone starting from students, teachers, parents, scientists, researchers, professors will have something to gain from this network.

In an exclusive interview with Startup Terminal; Santanu Das, founder of MachPrinciple.com shares more insights about his venture and future roadmap.

Excerpts:

Santanu Das, Founder, MachPrinciple.com 
ST: When did you start your venture MachPrinciple.com? Please briefly explain more about your venture.

Santanu Das: MachPrinciple.com is a social networking platform for academicians. The website was first launched in Dec. 2018 and the company was incorporated in August 2019.
It is quite sad that the science coverage attributed to mass media in India is abysmally poor, i.e. around 3 percent, which is far below the desired level of 10-15 percent, as we see in other developed nations. Therefore, we need a social platform where scientists can promote their work and science enthusiasts can learn about the research. MachPrinciple.com is a professional network that is specially created to fulfill that need.

Then several additional features are built on top of that to create values for students and researchers by helping them to share their presentations, writing feedback about their institute, finding conferences, etc.

ST: What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

Santanu Das: I have done PhD in Physics and presently working as a research scientist in a joint position of University of Wisconsin Madison and Fermilab. As an academician I felt the need to connect all the academicians into a single platform. It will help researchers with science outreach. The seed of MachPrinciple comes from a WordPress blog, that I started for promoting science.

The story goes as follows. In 2013, I wanted to promote my research, in particular, a paper that got rejected by a journal. I started assuming that if I write about the work in a blog post then everyone will notice that. But things don’t work like that. There are about 600 million blogs around the world. It will take 5-6 months for different search engines even to list your blog. Coming to the first page of the search engine is a far-fetched dream. But anyway, I keep writing posts related to scientific work in the blog.

Then my brother developed the initial codes for the blogging website in 2015 and we moved from the WordPress website to the custom coded blog. We slowly grew the blog and then I thought of developing it as a social network.  The first version of the social networking site is launched in December 2018.

ST: How has been your entrepreneurship journey so far?

Santanu Das: The journey so far has been extremely challenging yet at the same time also immensely fulfilling. When I launched the website in December 2018, there were only a couple of hundreds of monthly active users. We used to get 1-2 registrations a day, sometimes even 1 registration in a few days. Now, after one year we have about 60,000 monthly active users, and more than 16,000 registered users. As of now, we have more than 110,000 scientific articles on MachPrinciple and our user base is growing at a rate of 150-200 new registrations per day.

We launched a conference search platform, university and school feedback platform, university course directory, people directory etc. We also launched separate websites for mobile and the desktop. The dream of becoming the first social network for academics is slowly taking shape.

MachPrinciple.com homepage
ST: What business opportunities do you see particularly in your industry?

Santanu Das: The business opportunities for a social network like MachPrinciple is huge because the user base is large. Everyone starting from students, teachers, parents, scientists, researchers, professors will have something to gain from this network.

There are platforms where researchers can promote their scientific discoveries. But all of them charge several thousands of dollars just for promoting a single research work. MachPrinciple can provide researchers a platform to promote their research work at an exceptionally low price to the proper audience.

College students benefit from MachPrinciple as they can access their lecture notes. But along with that in the future they will also be able to communicate amongst themselves and buy or sell their old books and study materials.

Conference organizers can promote their upcoming conferences through our platform. The conference-goers will be able to register for the conference, buy flight tickets book hotel rooms etc. through our platform.

As a social network we will also have social advertisements on our platform. So, there are immense business opportunities in this field. The total population in the research community, in India and USA combined, is about 5.25 million and their yearly purchasing power is more than $200 billion. We can easily target them through MachPrinciple.

ST: As an entrepreneur, what challenges do you face in your day to day life, if any?

Santanu Das: When you are an entrepreneur challenges are an integral part of your life. Initially the challenge was to develop the website. My brother, who was a web-developer, designed the first version of a website in 2015. More than 80% of the initial codes of MachPrinciple blogging platform were written by my brother. But when we decided to launch it as a social network, developing such a big platform just by him was impossible.

I hired a company to develop the website. But they did not do much and delayed the project for 7-8 months. So, I had to fire them and it was difficult to develop the site in the initial phases. Now we have a good tech team.

At present, the main challenge is marketing. It will never behave as a social network unless there are a few million users. Everyday, we are developing new strategies for marketing, branding and sales etc. It is really satisfying to see the user base is growing at a very fast rate.

ST: How big is your team? Are you planning to hire more?

Santanu Das: Currently, the team at MachPrinciple is a small one. I am personally administering things. I am also handling the marketing myself. There is a website and app development team consisting of three people. My brother, who developed the initial codes of MachPrinciple, sometimes helps me with technical advice about the development.

Apart from these, I keep on hiring freelancers for part-time jobs.

ST: What are your future plans?

Santanu Das: As I said, we started very slow. But now after about 1 year of launching the website, we are getting about 150-200 new registrations a day. A social network will grow exponentially. That’s how the social network grows in the world.

As people will learn about our network, find their friends on the platform, and gain trust in MachPrinciple, they will join the network. We are in the very initial phase. Till now I am investing my personal capital in developing the platform. But now, as we have a decent user base, we are planning to start generating revenue from our website. We are about to launch multiple paid services on our platform in the coming months.

We are also planning to start a campus ambassador program which is expected to expand the user base rapidly. Several products are in the pipeline and will be launched throughout the year. It will change the way academia functions.

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