MILLBURN, NJ - Just over three years ago, on Feb. 1, 2016, two Millburn high school students launched a website called storychatter.com that displays a collection of short, concise, visually engaging videos, created to connect young South Asian children with their culture and heritage.
Today, Vikram and Nikhita Mahendru are still working, as their website has close to 2,000 subscribers and has reached 20,000 people online.
A lot of hard work and planning went into the website before it launched. As the brother and sister duo explained to TAPinto, they spent three years creating a repertoire of about 65 videos on such topics as Indian festivals, myths, and gods after doing extensive research online.
Vikram and Nikhita provide the voice over for each of the characters in the videos, as well as working with a digital artist to create vibrant animations to captivate viewers. Each video can take anywhere from 1-3 months to create.
When asked where they find inspiration to come up with story ideas, the two said “the information stemmed from the stories our grandparents used to tell us when we were younger. These are the stories that sparked our interest at a young age and we thought that if our grandparents could completely captivate us with Indian mythology and culture, we needed to provide the same for others like us."
They continued, "We started with the topics we found most interesting and researched them extensively on the internet. We compiled all the information we found on each Indian god, hero, notable figure, and epic into original scripts that [we] wrote together. The scripts are simplified so that they’re accessible to young students, specifically at an elementary school level.”
In addition to being available on the website, their content is available on a mobile app that can be downloaded from iTunes. Users have the option to purchase videos to download to their phone for a small fee.
To reach out to potential users, Vikram and Nikhita developed a marketing communication plan using email marketing and social media to target their South Asian demographic. They have also started to reach out to local organizations, asking that storychatter.com become part of cultural classes and events.
The siblings don’t keep the revenue they generate from Story Chatter. Instead, they give back to both the U.S. and Indian communities. In the U.S., the proceeds fund STEM education initiatives for underprivileged children in New Jersey.
In India, the proceeds fund education for homeless orphans in Noida and relief for victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
In the future, Vikram and Nikhita both want to continue their passion for creating content for their audience.
“[We] feel like this is something that we’re always going to work on throughout our lives," they said. "Researching and creating has allowed our knowledge for our culture and history to grow as well as for us to grow into the people we are today after facing successes and failures with the site, and we wouldn’t trade those lessons for anything."