Forbes: The Story Behind How Vinit Bharara Built A Massive Media Company
Some Spider Studios is a fast-growing media and entertainment company that creates multimedia channels on social, streaming and audio platforms. Through brands Scary Mommy, CAFE and The Dad, Some Spider Studios reaches over 150 million unique visitors every month. The company was founded by Vinit Bharara, cofounder of Diapers.com, which was sold to Amazon for over $500 million.
Having followed Some Spider Studios’ rapid growth, I interviewed Vinit Bharara to understand how he got where he is today. Together with his brother and Indian parents, the Bhararas moved to the United States, after a stop in England, knowing no one and with next to no money. His dad was a doctor and his mom helped at the office while raising her boys and taking care of the home. To make ends meet, the Bhararas worked days, nights and weekends. Eventually, his parents settled at the Jersey Shore where Bharara was raised.
Bharara’s dad was a strict, principled disciplinarian who made sure he and his brother—the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara—understood the value of hard work and a great education. The Bharara brothers grew up knowing the importance of study, hard work and responsibility.
“My mom is the sweetest, kindest and most affable person I know,” Bharara said. “She made great friends and sponsored her six brothers to come to America, as well. Everyone was very close. My brother and I have been so lucky to have these wonderful parents who did so much for us and who instilled in us our values and everything we know.”
The idea for Some Spider Studios came to Bharara while still at Diapers.com. He named the company after his favorite childhood book, Charlotte’s Web, which he had been reading to his two young children around the time. “The iconic phrase that saves Wilbur was ‘Some Pig,’ of course. I always thought it should have been ‘Some Spider,’” Bharara pointed out.
“At Diapers.com I really learned about building powerful brands—especially specialized brands around a specific demographic where you identify your target customer, constantly obsess about delivering value for them, day in and day out, and ultimately, treat them like you would friends or family. Following this approach, we fostered regular, loyal and emotional relationships with our customers. I think that was the main asset we had,” Bharara said. “At Some Spider, that’s the mission once again—building these deep, genuine and emotional relationships with our audience. This time, we’re doing it with content—short form, long form, photos, articles, videos, podcasts, shows, series, etc. But with all of it, we’re looking to build emotional connections and regular, trusting relationships. The business model flows from this—whether it’s selling advertising, products or services, all of which are in our plan.”
One of Some Spider Studios’ biggest milestones was the acquisition of Scary Mommy. When Bharara acquired the website, it already attracted a very passionate base of followers, but offered a limited amount of resource and content. Today, Scary Mommy has dozens of writers and contributors, a news division and a talented video group that develops several shows. Some Spider has a branded studio that serves the largest advertisers around the country. Last month, Scary Mommy announced its debut as a publisher on Snapchat's Discover page, making it the first channel on the platform specifically geared towards parents.
Another major milestone: Some Spider recently launched The Dad, developed only four months ago. The site quickly took off, amassing over 700,000 followers and tens of millions of engagements. Recently, the site posted a parody commercial for AphukenbrakE, a fake prescription drug offered to adults suffering from PAR-ENT-TING. It quickly went viral and was shared millions of times across social platforms.
Vinit also brought on board brother Preet last year as executive vice president of Some Spider Studios. In addition to providing strategic direction for the brand, Preet launched a podcast, Stay Tuned, which debuted at number one on iTunes and has been downloaded well over 6 million times since the September 2017 launch. “No one works harder or prepares more. And even though he’s a celebrity on the streets, he’s a regular guy in the office—cracking jokes—which is great for everyone to see,” Vinit said, referring to his brother.
Vinit Bharara and his partner at Diapers.com Marc Lore both invested $5 million in Some Spider Studios. More recently, the company raised $10 million from New Enterprise Associates, Red and Blue Ventures and several angel investors including former Fox chairman Sandy Grushow. Lore — who is also known for selling Jet.com to Walmart — is now CEO of Walmart.com. Though Lore is not involved in the daily operations at Some Spider Studios, Bharara and Lore have been best friends for over 35 years. In that way, Bharara considers Lore more than just an advisor. “I get the benefit of being able to call, email or text him whenever I want,” he said.
When I asked Vinit Bharara what distinguishes Some Spider from the competition, he said he’s not obsessed with what others are doing. “We also have plans to tackle a few different areas (media, commerce, local communities, etc.), so our competitive set isn’t as clear. Our ecommerce background from Diapers.com means we are focused on serving and catering to the customer. This attitude touches every aspect of our business, from brand philosophy to our mission, to how we financially model and execute,” Bharara said.
As for Some Spiders’ future, Bharara said the goal is to make its brands beloved and ubiquitous—playing at a high level everywhere. “Yes, we want to engage on all the social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.), but we also want to get on all the streaming platforms and partner with cable and networks, which is what we’re now doing, We want to be a 21st-century video and radio channel, with a slew of popular podcasts. And if our brands are truly what we expect them to be, we should be able to offer compelling products, services and community to our users. We should be a retail brand, a wholesale brand and a brand that service/community providers will want to partner with.”