Mobycy CEO Akash Gupta’s Open Letter to Media

I strongly believe that media is a great weapon and pillar of our democratic nation. But, if media is more responsible and supportive when it comes to the startup ecosystem of India, we would see a better and resurgent India solving many problems of the country at a much faster pace that we can ever imagine.

Akash Gupta, CEO, Mobycy Akash Gupta, CEO, Mobycy

Dear Media,

We all love the quote from the comic hero book Spiderman – “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Today as the founder of a startup, which is on a mission to bring in a positive change in the country, it’s my sincere appeal to reputed mediapersons and big media houses to look at startups with a responsible eye.

We have got an immense support from you. You’ve come forward and supported the green cycling revolution which we’re creating in different cities of India. With the sheer angle of green revolution we’re creating, we’ve even got highlighted several times on front pages of every big media daily. And we are quite thankful to you for this support.

However, sometimes, I get scared of this adulation as I feel I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders when it comes to smart bike sharing, being the first mover I have to ensure I do everything right so that this next generation solution to our pollution & traffic woes, hits the right chord in every way with users as well as with community at large.

One wrong coverage can really harm the cause that we’re on to. I would like to highlight an example which came off as a shock to me a few weeks back. A reputed media house recently gave free rein to a young journalist with an article on cycling. And that aspiring journalist, went on to the extent of misrepresenting all facts, to create a sensational story. In fact, I was more surprised ex post facto. Before publishing or even using our brand name as well as logo in the story, the media house did not confirm the facts with us even once. When checked with internal sources as to who the journalist was, I got a contact of a college student which was him to my dismay.

Such a story could be sensational for a day or two, and help create a few buzzworthy tweets and raise some eye brows. But so much for what? For a young startup, which is honestly trying to solve a problem and help the nation, one misleading media coverage can prove quite detrimental. Thankfully, in our case nothing of that sort happened. But it did lead to a lot of internal chaos for a day or two.

Newspaper clip of the article published on June 26, 2018 in Hindustan Times
Newspaper clip of the article published in Hindustan Times on June 26, 2018

All the facts above were wrong and are nowhere related to Mobycy. Like, we don’t charge a INR 5000 security deposit, nor do we have a monthly rental scheme of INR 350. In fact, the review of our bikes was also not correct.

In yet another case, one of the media houses approached us to do a story where we could sensitise the people about bike sharing and explain to them that there was no point stealing the bikes as they are powered by GPS tracking of all bicycles 24×7 along with police support bestowed upon by municipal government authorities. However, the story turned out to be another sensational piece of news wherein the publication ended up narrating a story that bike sharing is marred by thefts of bicycles. This, most definitely, was not the story that would motivate the bike sharing industry which we’re building as #PollutionKaSolution. My point is just that’s what happens when a media house prefers sensationalism over sensitisation. And this is where the question of responsible journalism kicks in.

Every startup needs media attention as it helps the venture gain some limelight. However, in my opinion, it must be every journalist and media house’s responsibility to do due diligence before mentioning a startup or using its logo in an article. Facts must not be muddled. One small error of judgement by you can potentially sabotage a successful company’s reputation. Taking corrective measures and issuing a corrigendum later, doesn’t help or serve the purpose every time. And you know it better than anyone else.

While I strongly believe that media is a great weapon and a strong pillar of our democratic nation, if media is more responsible and supportive when it comes to the startup ecosystem of India, we would see a better and resurgent India solving many problems of the country at a much faster pace that we can ever imagine. Together, we can bring in the desired positive change in our society.

Sincerely,

Akash Gupta,
CEO & Co-founder,
Mobycy

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