“A crucial skill for anyone in the media is understanding your audience”: Q&A with Supriya Paul, Josh Talks CEO

“A crucial skill for anyone in the media is understanding your audience”: Q&A with Supriya Paul, Josh Talks CEO
Supriya Paul, CEO and Co-founder, Josh Talks.

Supriya Paul is the CEO and co-founder of Josh Talks, a platform in India with 25 million subscribers that seeks to inspire and empower young people through stories of perseverance and determination. 

The following conversation was included in our Media Advisory Services internal newsletter, where Supriya spoke about her journey building Josh Talks, what skills media practitioners need to survive today’s market and, most importantly, what people can learn from her mistakes.  

Tell us about Josh Talks in five sentences. 

Josh Talks works to inspire, inform and up-skill India in 10 vernacular languages. From giving rural youth access to relatable role models, to an ed-tech platform that teaches them the right skills to succeed in life, Josh has the vision to bridge the socioeconomic gap present in India through its ecosystem of tools and products. The overarching mission of our organization is to enable the next billion internet users to truly unlock their potential. 

How long have you worked in the media? 

We have been in the media industry since I co-founded Josh Talks during my college days with Shobhit (Banga). We felt a shared frustration that the youth in India lacked real role models. Starting with just one language channel, we’ve grown to 23+ channels, 25 million subscribers and reaching over 200 million monthly views. It’s been a journey dedicated to inspiring and empowering individuals, especially the youth, through storytelling. 

In your opinion, what is the one skill everyone working in the media should have or work to get? And why? 

In my view, a crucial skill for anyone in the media is understanding your audience. It means your content stays relevant and connects with the audience. When we began our journey, we recognized the gap between our perspective and the audience we were creating content for. To address this, we prioritized hiring individuals who are part of our target audience. Being aware of what your audience likes, is interested in, and thinks helps us create better content, engage them more effectively and ensures long-term success in the ever-changing media world. 

Best advice you ever got? 

The best advice I ever got is, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” It’s a reminder for me to be proactive, take chances and not be afraid to seek opportunities. 

Can you share a mistake that you learned from? 

Certainly, a valuable lesson I’ve learned comes from a mistake we made with our English learning app, Josh Skills. We didn’t thoroughly understand or study the Total Addressable Market (TAM). Post-launch, it became evident that scaling would be challenging given our price point. This experience has taught me the significance of comprehensive market research and understanding the potential user base before choosing a category of expansion. 

Anything you wish you knew then that you learned in the process? 

One important lesson that I have learnt over the years is that I can’t be everywhere, every time. While it was initially difficult for me to make this transition from being involved in everything at work to being essential, I have now learnt the importance of delegating. Now, my primary focus is on allocating my time efficiently, whether it’s for product development, collaborating on campaigns with partners, or handling less critical and urgent decisions. In hindsight, embracing delegation earlier would have streamlined my workflow and improved overall productivity. 

On a personal note: 

Is what you are doing today something you wanted to do when you grew up? 
As a child, my aspiration was to become a CEO, even though I didn’t fully grasp the role at the time. As I grew older, my desire for a leadership position became clearer. Despite being dismissed due to my introverted and quiet nature and, looking back, I believe that staying true to my ambition has worked out well for me. 

If not, what would you be doing? 

Growing up, I was a very studious child and my parents hoped I’d become a CA. If situations would have turned out differently, I’d likely be pursuing financial accounting, aiming to be a partner at a big 4. 

Something people don’t know about you (such as a hobby, etc.)? 

A lesser-known aspect about me is that I am a trained Hindustani classical singer. 

Lastly, our readers are all media professionals, who, like you and your team, are focused on making an impact and changing the world for the better while at the same time surviving this challenging industry – any advice to share? 

A piece of advice I always follow is, “Move fast, break things.” Trying to be perfect from the beginning can be limiting. Instead, take quick actions, learn from mistakes, and improve gradually. It’s about experimenting, adjusting and moving forward without getting caught up in the quest for immediate perfection. This approach has been instrumental in allowing us to adapt, innovate and ultimately make a meaningful difference in the dynamic media landscape.