Startup Stories: ‘Red, White & Brown,’ a Podcast for First-Generation South Asian Americans
In this series, we talk to student and alumni entrepreneurs about how they are making an impact with their startups.
Venture: Red, White & Brown
Team: Prerak Juthani ’22, MED ’22; Sofia Charania MED ’22
Please briefly describe your startup and its mission:
Red, White & Brown is a podcast that explores the humor and challenges of being first-generation “Desi” (South Asian) American within the United States. The show explores the ups and downs of our collective experiences. Topics ranging from social justice to memes are discussed through the lens of “East meets West.”
With more than 5 million South Asians living in the U.S., this podcast aims to fill a gap in the media space by providing relatable, entertaining, and thought-provoking content to children of the diaspora—an audience that has generally been left out of mainstream media. We believe we are uniquely positioned to create this podcast because of our novel backgrounds. We have one male and one female host, one of whom is Indian Hindu and the other of whom is Pakistani Muslim, allowing us to bring novel perspectives to the South Asian immigrant discussion. Our mission is to spark conversation and to talk about the unique challenges and experiences of South Asians in the West.
What was the moment when you had the idea for this startup?
We initially bonded over our love for podcasts and our shared interest in social media. When we realized that there wasn’t a single podcast geared toward South Asian Americans, we immediately realized that we were well equipped to start one ourselves, given that we both had large followings consisting largely of South Asian immigrants. For example, Prerak is an active YouTuber who vlogs about medicine and business, whose videos have amassed more than 28,000 subscribers and more than 2.3 million views. Similarly, Sofia runs a blog and Instagram, which has more than 45,000 followers, and speaks to a largely immigrant and student demographic.
What was the most important resource Yale SOM contributed to your startup?
Prerak: The entire core curriculum has been vital to the success of Red, White & Brown. I have applied the fundamentals of the Customer course in creating the marketing material on our Instagram page. Similarly, I also use the industry analysis framework that we learned in Competitor to better see what the podcast landscape looks like and determine how we can achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. I’m consistently thinking on my feet on how we can separate ourselves from our competitors, especially in an industry that is as saturated as podcasting. Lastly, I also use the fundamentals of basic microeconomics to see where the opportunities are to monetize our podcast. How can we create value such that individuals are willing to pay a premium for the content we regularly produce?
What’s the biggest milestone your startup has hit since graduation?
Red, White & Brown was founded in 2019, with the first season released in early 2020. This season had 10 episodes and amassed over 4,000 downloads from 20+ countries. The first 10 episodes included topics such as: “Bollywood: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “Dating as a Desi-American,” and “Why Are Desi Parents So Into Their Kids Being Doctors?” Given that this season was well received, we decided to move forward with season two, which released in early 2021. This season also had 10 episodes and addressed issues that were more relevant to the current societal issue and how they relate to Desi culture. For example, we had episodes that discussed the issue of racism within South Asian culture, and an episode titled: “Why is COVID-19 Having a BIGGER Impact on South Asians?”
Cumulatively, both seasons have amassed over 10,300 downloads across 50 countries. The podcast has over 90 reviews with a rating of 4.8/5 on iTunes. We were also pleased to see that our Instagram page also amassed a following of well over 1,000 people. In a market space of about 2.2 million podcasts, our podcast has ranked in the top 1.5% globally. We also were recently selected as 1 of 15 teams included in the Spring 2021 Accelerator Cohort at TSAI City, which equipped us with substantial funding and mentors who have provided guidance on how to grow further. We plan on leveraging this foundation to increase production quality and create more entertaining episodes. We’re hoping to implement all of this for season three, which will be released in September 2021.