Though the businesses across the globe dwindled during the crisis, there have been a few who moved against the trend buoyed by the changing preferences and business acumen of the captains. Rohit Chadda, CEO, Digital Publishing, Zee Group, has one such success story to share … ‘Never fear to experiment with anything’ – That is what Rohit Chadda, CEO of Digital Publishing at Zee Group, tells youngsters and this is what he lives by even today, which is what makes him quintessential new-age entrepreneur in Fortune40 under 40. Having started as co-founder of the food-ordering platform ‘foodpanda.com’, Chadda at the age of 38 is the youngest CEO among the largest media houses in the country. Heading Digital Publishing at Zee Group, he has been instrumental in successfully launching eight new brand websites and three new languages for Zee Digital even during pandemic times. This has further led to the expansion of the products offered to 20 brands and 12 languages across news, finance, entertainment, healthcare, sports and, technology-based content. Speaking about learnings that he has adapted to during the Covid-era, Chadda says that there has been a drastic and massive change in the way information is circulated and being consumed during the pandemic. Communication and interaction have transitioned from face-to-face interviews (in-person) to online sessions and webinars. What used to be done manually has now taken routes to virtual reality and since ‘Change leads to Salvation’ there arises a need to offer more options based on the changing times. “People now need to unlearn work ethics and adapt to newer ways of working, especially those who have been working for quite some time now. Now, for a case study, let us speak about our platform BollywoodLife.com, where the celebrities are now being interviewed via Zoom calls and video mediums. An idea, which was not entertained by them earlier,” Chadda explains. Having focused on creating an approach for an English global news channel WION during the US elections in November 2020, he now focuses on expanding other brands internationally. The creation of user-generated content for Zee Digital for the Asia Pacific, Middle East, UK, and North American market is a good case in point of what Zee Digital has managed to accomplish. Chadda in his intentions to expand the horizon for Zee Digital says that “In case of travel, fashion, and food, aggregators become important as a distribution channel, and that will stay because there is a convenience that the aggregators provide that brands alone cannot. However, from a brand perspective, it is about building relatable content and building a direct relationship with your consumers, which are the key to any brand,”
Over the last 14 months, he has managed to upscale Zee Digital’s business to over 200+ million from 60 million users, thus making it the third-largest digital media group in India. Under his leadership, Zee Digital continues to reach new landmarks and strengthen its presence in the digital world crossing the 300 million MAUs (Monthly Active Users) mark in April 2021. While the network witnessed growth across the portfolio, the largest growth contributions came from flagship brands like India.com (11x growth), Zee News (3.4x growth), DNA (4.3x growth), BollywoodLife.com (5.2x), and WION (7.8x). It is believed that his experience of beginning his journey as an entrepreneur while managing a fine balance between the start-up culture and donning the corporate hat has helped him come up with innovative ideas to expand the business. Moreover, Zee Digital’s flagship initiative has climbed the stairs to success in achieving additional active users each month, over the past year. India.com surpassed 75 million unique monthly visitors in March 2021 as compared to the 7.4 million unique visitors mark in April 2020, yet another feather in the cap for Zee Digital under the remarkable leadership of Rohit Chadda.
The revamped version is equipped with providing access to news from across the globe. With this, Rohit Chadda aims to make Zee Digital a household name by eventually pushing his passionate endeavor to make Zee the largest media house in the Indian subcontinent. Under his guidance, ZEE Digital has become the first media and entertainment business in the country to launch Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for 13 of its national and regional news brands covering 9 languages. With this launch, ZEE Digital joins the league of global tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba, Uber, LinkedIn, etc. that offer PWA on mobile to their users for a superior user experience on the web. Now viewers of India’s top broadcast news brands like ZeeNews.com, Zee24Ghanta.com, ZeeHindustan.in, Zee24Kalak.in, 24Taas.com, ZeeRajastha.com, ZeeBiharJharkhand.com, ZeeUpUk.com, and ZeeMpCg.com shall benefit from the PWA experience. Having already grown these brands by over 65% in monthly active users over the past year, there are no geographical boundaries for Zee Digital as it grows bigger. His past journey sheds light on his initial struggles. Having started foodpanda.com when the idea of food delivery application was in its nascent stages, Chadda managed to overcome larger hurdles in the early stages of his career. In the first year of having founded the company, his two other co-founders left the company. But, instead of losing hope, Chadda decided to build a strong team of vision-oriented people and ensured that he creates a first among many others to follow. But that was not where he was going to stop. Soon, he acquired the dine-in payments app Ruplee, and went on to re-work and re-built the team, business model, and the product, which led to the creation of a multi-channel offline payments platform Pay Loin2016 when PayTM and Mobikwik were already the market leaders.
This further testifies Chadda’s belief that ‘Tough times require tough measures, but he attributes his success to his alma mater Delhi College of Engineering and Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM Calcutta). He believes that when one goes to premium institutes such as these, they are groomed and grow up surrounded by like-minded passionate individuals, whom they would later cross paths within their lives.