This Mumbai-based Startup is Disrupting the way brands connect with the Indian youth


Viral Fission is a platform that bridges the gap between India’s most capable youth and the brands they love, through engagements and experiences. It was launched in December, 2019. We are publishing an interview the founders (Rishab Shetty, Shreyas Hegde and Aditya Anand).

Q. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Please share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?

Ans:  Helping ‘Two ends of the ecosystem’. On the youth side, we aspire to create meaningful quality internship opportunities with top brands of the country. On the other hand, we give brands access to the ever-changing youth and be relevant to the future generations. 

Q. Please tell us about the founders

Ans:  The founders in the summer of 2015 amidst of finding themselves an internship ended up creating what is today one of the largest youth internship driving platforms. Rishab and Shreyas the co-founders were on a hiatus pursuing MBAs and finding themselves in corporate/business. The idea was rebooted in November 2019, reigniting a new wave of spark among a passionate group of people. The lockdown that led to lull in the student’s life and structure was a catalyst for the team to activate the launchpad to early summer of 2020.Promising the community aspirational, young and brands they love, Viral Fission delivered on the same. 

Since then they have 6 aspirational brands under their roster within a span of 6 months. They organised India’s one of the biggest digital launch event called ‘The Big Wave’ with which they on boarded 5000 young talents in the Viral Fission community. These talents who have been shortlisted through a rigorous selection process pan – India, will now be working on tasks provided by Viral Fission and prove their mettle to win the most prized internship with their favourite brand.

The launch also witnessed youth icons like Rannvijay Singha, Jordindians and Prateek Kuhad   inspiring the youths of the country to follow their dreams while working on it harder every day.

Q. List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skill Sets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has specific domain expertise.

Ans: Here’s the core team running the show:

  1. Rishab Shetty, COO & Co-Founder: With an experience of working with the some of  largest marketing agencies like Mindshare, a foodie at heart his talents of finding talent across the nation and network led him to not only create but also manage one of the largest youth networks in the country at Viral Fission. 
  2. Shreyas Hegde, CEO & Co-Founder: With over 6 years of experience in corporate finance and equity research, he has worked with teams overseas. On a regular day, you’d find Shreyas jumping between meetings and approving ideas, being one of the master mind of this disruptive community-first startup he surely knows how to build one for himself.
  3. Aditya Anand, Chief Revenue Officer: With over 5 years of experience in the field of digital media, specializing in driving revenue functions, he has worked with companies like Culture Machine and Bytedance India before combining forces with the VF crew. The sound of the cash-register going KACHING is what makes Aditya tick.
  4. Shreya Nair, Creative Director: Shreya is the creative director at VF & “TBH”. A copywriter graduate from Miami Ad School with over 7 years of experience in digital marketing, content strategy, creator management and content execution. In her tenure, she has closely-worked and collaborated with Facebook, YouTube and Times group for different projects/creators. Her last gig was to develop brandedcontent with creators and influencers across various digital platforms and drive digital campaign resonance through-the-line.
  5. Abeeshek Pandit, Chief Finance Officer: Abeeshek Pandit has completed graduation in BE mechanical and post-graduation in MBA finance. Close to 5 years of work experience which includes automobile sector and the fund industry, Abeeshek is completely data driven and has an analytical mindset though he is currently learning to take decisions based on gut feelings.
  6. Ankur Johar, Group product & Brand strategist: Ankur Johar, aka Enkore, one of India’s most well-respected hip-hop artists, has also been involved in building communities from a young age, beginning with the hip hop community Voice of The People founded by him, then being brought on board to create, and build the college talent network and has been onboard since the Viral Fission relaunch in November 2019.

Q. Tell us about the Product / Solution. How did you get your first customer? Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.

Ans: In the west, internships act as a gate-way for the youth to try out their hands at practical experiences at offices to gain clarity for their future career paths. In India, however, we felt that the quality of internships were poor & hence we saw a clear need for good quality internships in the country. The brands are struggling to get in-roads into the Gen-Z population and capture the attention of a TG that has extremely short attention spans and are highly opinionated in nature. We saw these as opportunity pillars, which form the base of the foundation stone of our company and its vision

Q. What is your USP?

Ans: Its a real time solution which shows live progress of campaigns on individual devices. There is 5-layer student verification and selection process where the student gets rated on their creative abilities, speaking abilities, presentation skills and social media presence. Brands can view the progress of student’s real time via our web and mobile app. Journey through different levels by performing a variety of tasks to earn points, exclusive merch, access to invite only events and opportunities to work with the most aspired brands across the country.

Q. What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?

Ans: We believe that any brand that wants to remain relevant and capture the attention of the youth is the perfect brand for us. The “ideal customers” are brands that not only have unique offerings targeted towards the youth, but also are aspirational brands where the youth would want to work. E-commerce, Fashion, OTTs, Food & Beverage are a few sectors where we see an immediate and seamless fit for our offerings. We have signed up with a few of the brands – JioSaavn, Vice India, OnePlus, Myntra, Mirror Now, Noise.

Q. What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??

Ans: We believe that we are way too early and extremely lucky to not have seen bad days yet, but are prepared to face any such challenges with grace and humility.

Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)

Ans: We are currently bootstrapped.

Q.: Is there any interesting success story of your startup? If yes, please write about it. ?

Ans:  VICE India X Netflix – Over 1.2 Lac content relevant comments across 4 video posts on IGTV

– OnePlus – Over 400 OnePlus users created UGC around Diwali Celebrations and posted as insta posts using branded #

– JioSaavn – Over 400 students participated and created over 1200 personalised messages that was sent along with the Chavi Sodani music video + Filter based UGC created for Insta

– Myntra – over 1500 students participated in the Fashion Project – a UGC Based contest created around the Myntra Fashion Superstar IP – helped in driving engagement on the MFS insta handle and encouraged tune-ins into the show

– Mirror Now – Over 1000 students participated in this cause-based initiative by Times Television Network to encourage conversations around Mental Health and address the taboos around the topic

Q. Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture? Please explain in detail.

Ans: 5000+ Hand-picked ambassadors are a part of our network. We have driven over 10K UGC posts, over 2.5 Lac+ brand-engagement and over 5 million cumulative views. Our 5K strong youth-network has a unique reach of over 1Mil youth/students across the country, in over 60 cities.

Q. What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?

Ans: We believe that we are shaping the bright and brilliant minds that will become leaders of tomorrow, by giving them practical experiences via our internship program. The larger picture is to eventually become the one-stop community platform for everything the youth can think of and beyond.

Q. Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?

Ans: We believe that currently we have only one competitor (and a large inspiration to us) globally – Youth Marketing Connection (YMC). 

Q. What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months? Any other information you would like to share?

Ans: The goal is to start monetisation in a large way and get atleast 10 more aspirational brands to partner with us. We also aspire to scale up our Youth Ambassador network from 5000 to over 15000. 

Q. What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs? 

Ans:  Always believe in the people you surround yourself with. Be a people-first organisation, since businesses are made by people.