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Old 14th February 2019, 00:00   #1
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Default Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

“Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored”
Abraham Lincoln

After a long 15 years of doing it in our own unique way, I think we can allow ourselves a “pat on the back” moment. All said & done, the 15th is quite a major milestone & I’m pleased that we’ve come so far on an unbeaten path.

When we started off in ‘04, we were complete newbies to the car industry & had to literally find our own way. None of us had an automotive background – far from it (mine has been plywood & education). None of us had worked as a journalist or anything remotely close either. We were such noobs that I remember calling my tech-friendly buddy in Boston and asking him “so, how exactly does one take a website live”? Over long-distance phone calls which used to cost quite a packet back then, he gave me the lowdown on web domains, how shared hosting on servers works etc. Armed with that knowledge & the help of a local IT freelancer called Ghanshyam, went live on 14th Feb, 2004. Our community saw all of 5 signups that day .

The 1st Team-BHP Drive
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An early Team-BHP meet
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Our forum was fun from day 1, just as it is today. In those days, I remember there were only a dozen or so BHPians who were really active. The group was so small that we knew each other’s middle names! With time, more & more enthusiasts found us via word-of-mouth & Google’bhai and we grew, kept growing, then grew some more. We innovated in many ways and frankly, some of it was intentional…most of it wasn’t. Simply put, we didn’t play by the rules of the Indian car industry because we didn’t know the rules. At the risk of blowing our own trumpet, I might add that like mavericks, we took established norms and tore them apart. This is precisely why 20+ lakh Indians visit Team-BHP every month & our forum is active at a time when others are dying (link 1 and link 2).

So, what exactly have we done differently? I could list 100 things that are unique to Team-BHP, but will start with a dozen and BHPians can chip in with the rest .

Think Different #1 - Run by Owner/Reviewers
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It is car owners that run the auto industry, not journalists. Fittingly then, we're the only automotive website in India with thousands of car owners contributing to its great knowledge base, every hour of every day. After all, who are you going to trust? The car owner who pays the auto industry’s bills, or the car reviewer whose bills are paid by the auto industry??!! There are more owner-reviewers on Team-BHP than all the professional reviewers in India combined. What’s more, as of date, we have 4,400 ownership reviews & counting. That’s more than all the reviews of any car rag in the country - even those that have been around far longer.

Think Different #2 - Refusing the auto industry’s ad money
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This is absolutely, totally & completely unheard of in the Indian car scene!! Manufacturers offered us money for running car advertisements. We replied with a polite yet firm NO THANKS and, suffice to say, they were shocked out of their wits. The OEMs thought we are MAD. But as internet usage exploded in India, even the manufacturers grudgingly realised that their rules were outdated in the modern age. They couldn’t control the flow of information like they used to in the days when car magazines were the only trick in town. They couldn’t call someone @ Team-BHP to alter reviews or influence news, & they certainly couldn’t tell Team-BHP what news to publish and not to publish. This was a unique stand adopted by Team-BHP and even today, there is not a single magazine or website covering Indian cars that refuses the industry’s enormous advertising rupees. Our reasoning is straightforward = Conflict of interest. How is it possible that you pay my bills, and I objectively review your product? LOL – fat chance. If you think a car magazine or website can take a 30-lakh rupee ad contract from Maruti or Hyundai and review their products with a critic’s eye, please call me when you outgrow your pram. The car rags won’t even survive 1 month without the auto industry’s money – they aren’t going to cut off their food supply. Heck, a lot of car reviewers don’t even buy a car as they "survive" on the other indirect bribe (i.e. long-term testdrive cars). Team-BHP is dependent on car manufacturers for NOTHING. As proven before, we can even source cars independently for reviewing purposes.

Think Different #3 - Fanatical commitment to quality
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We’re perhaps the only website in the world where a post is reported for the wrong spelling of loose / lose!!! What’s more, IT IS CORRECTED TOO (link to post). Approximately 5,000 Moderator Actions are carried out every month; BHPians further help us maintain the forum's quality with ~700 Reported Posts each month (or about 25 Reported Posts every day). Let me assure you that each & every Reported Post is checked by the Team-BHP Moderators.

Think Different #4 - Pulling no punches
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When it comes to the auto industry, Team-BHP pulls no punches, be it manufacturers or dealers or service providers. All things being equal & the complaint genuine, Team-BHP will ALWAYS be on the side of the customer. Am listing a dozen example threads (there are hundreds more if you search for them):

Fake service by Maruti
Defective Hyundai Vernas
Tata silently deleting features
Triumph’s detuning fiasco
No Kawasakis after payment
Isuzu dealer fraud
Fake Skoda variant
Missing chassis bits in Ford's flagship
Defective Mahindra rims
Renault's deceiving ad
Maruti's awful brakes
Tata’s fake alloy wheels

If the car manufacturers do a bad job, we’ll be the first to tell you about it (most likely, we’ll be the ONLY ones too). We even consciously put these threads up on our homepage for maximum exposure! In the early days, I used to get a lot of legal threats from fancy suited lawyers. Once they got to know that I’m up to a fight whenever they are – and fight them I will - the threats disappeared. In the midst of one fight over a product defect, I remember telling the manufacturer "you might come with 30 lawyers to the court; I will come with 300 car owners". No car magazine or website has the guts to stand up to a manufacturer like this. Forget originally putting up the complaint like we did; hardly any other media covered these problems even after the news spread from Team-BHP. Silence is golden to them (pun intended). The automotive media in India doesn't report on things as much as they “take instructions” from the car manufacturers. A new variant with stickers? All car rags will publish it. Now, search for the above-listed examples and see how many others reported on it.

Think Different #5 - Standing tall on our own feet
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Team-BHP is the only one in India to have achieved significant scale, 100% independently. The way all the other large-sized media have is via one or more of the following:

a) An international brand backing them (all the big car magazines)
b) A big local name backing them (e.g. Business Standard)
c) Venture capital funding (all the other big car websites)

We’re the only ones to have climbed our own way up…alone!

Think Different #6 - The sheer breadth & depth of our knowledge base
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All car websites are more or less the same, as they focus primarily on 2 things only – Reviews & News. Of course, we do reviews & news too, but it’s just one part of our massive database. What makes Team-BHP truly unique is the other 90% of our content. We’re the sole car website in India to have threads on travelogues (almost 5000 of them!), restorations, artificial intelligence, how petrol pumps work, old car ads, mutual funds, LED headlamp upgrades, tattoos, FASTag, car sickness solutions, pressure washers, FDI norms & e-comm, car seats for kids, bicycles, technical discussions, aircraft scale models & more. Think of ANY conceivable topic on Indian cars and the odds are, we’ve covered it (if not, please start a thread!!!). Get this, it was thanks to Team-BHP that I was able to quit smoking & lose 20 kilos of excess weight. I’m confident this community has also helped you in numerous ways.

Think Different #7 - No “sponsored content”, no fraud, no cheating
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Neither me nor my team will ever mislead you. Honest. Team-BHP will NEVER publish an advertorial or sponsored content. In an era where it is frankly difficult to tell whether the web article you’re reading is paid for or not, don't worry here - on Team-BHP, every article is straight from the heart (and / or head). Today, I receive more inquiries from media agencies for advertorials & sponsored content than for banner ads. This is how sad the scene is. Even the hallowed NYTimes has started publishing sponsored content (link). This is one industry change that we will NEVER adopt.

Think Different #8 - Of fans, a following & respect
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We are perhaps the only automotive brand to be plastered on the bumpers of all kinds of cars ACROSS THE COUNTRY – link to our 2,400 page sticker spotting thread. Be it Altos & Nanos or BMWs & Jaguars…even police cars! Respect is earned, not demanded.

Think Different #9 - Staying true to our purpose
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This is a subject that’s very close to my heart. IMHO, a free & strong press helps to regulate an industry & all its players. Just consider how the Wall Street Journal blew the lid off the Theranos scam. Keeping in mind how weak our legal system is, car manufacturers aren't scared of lawsuits at all - however, bad press scares the heck out of them. Make no mistake, all car manufacturers respect Team-BHP, while a handful even fear it. Due to the nature of their respective jobs, a manufacturer & journalist / reviewer have to always sit on opposite sides of the table. Sadly, most of the automotive press (especially the magazines) sits in the pockets of car manufacturers, and are bought out easily. Those reviewers are more like car salesmen than independent critics! A senior guy (think top level) of a top Indian car media company tells me how manufacturer A & B keep calling him every time a review goes up; some even receive instructions from manufacturers at the driving event itself. Sorry, but that doesn’t fly with Team-BHP. No manufacturer DARE call me to influence our reviews, news or threads. We don’t do takedowns of bad news either; if I had 1000 bucks for each time I got a takedown request from a carmaker, I could buy a Ferrari just from those funds. Furthermore, Team-BHP refuses to become a spokesperson for the auto industry. Seen videos like these where journos go on record with high praises for cars? We implemented a firm rule about a decade ago that we won’t speak in such promotional videos, no matter how much they insist. Our job isn't selling cars for manufacturers.

Think Different #10 - We don’t chase numbers
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As is common knowledge now, one cannot simply register on Team-BHP and start posting. A Team-BHP membership has to be earned. In an era where 'website statistics' are everything & even faked, we actually follow systems that restrict our membership count. If this policy wasn’t in place, we’d have crossed 20 – 30 lakh members easily, but there would be total mayhem on our forums!! Similarly, we don’t chase post counts & actually have strict moderator action against zero-value posts made for the heck of it. Quality over quantity has always been our guiding principle.

Think Different #11 - Our road safety section
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It's sad that India has the highest number of road accident deaths in the world! To do our bit, Team-BHP has an active + dedicated section for Road Safety placed prominently at the very top of our forums. We are also the sole car website in India to have such a big safety section. Enough said!

Think Different #12 - The only true automotive community in India
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Last, yet indisputably the most important achievement = Team-BHP is the only “big community” in the Indian Car Scene. The camaraderie & sense of unity on this forum never fails to amaze me, every single day. We are a community of, for & by car owners. A good time then to revisit some of our most special moments.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey with us & a big shoutout to the Mods for taking care of our baby! To celebrate this huge milestone, a majority of Team-BHP's Moderators are headed to Goa this weekend. Happy 15th Birthday, Team-BHP.

Do share in the comments how you think Team-BHP is "different".

Last edited by GTO : 14th February 2019 at 08:20.
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Old 14th February 2019, 00:13   #2
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There are two more differentiating factors that I'd like to add.

Factor # 1 - Good and perfect English
Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!-english.jpg

Hardly any forum - especially in India - can boast of this. Every1 usally typs lik dis. SMS language is an eyesore and broken sentences and poor grammar can make things extremely difficult for a reader. Here on Team-BHP, we insist on good and perfect English. This makes posts a pleasure to read.

Factor # 2 - Team-BHP meets
Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!-img_1033.jpg

Meets help us put faces to the handles. They also result in great drives, chat sessions, problem solving and forging life-long friendships. There are so many fond memories I have! Over the years, I've had drives to Mahabaleshwar, Goa, Lonavala, Daman, Bangalore and Alibaug among others with BHPians and of course, lots of partying.

In these 15 years, we have really come a long way. Happy Birthday Team-BHP.
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Old 14th February 2019, 00:34   #3
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Only a few words, what a thread and what a forum! Proud to be part of it and see it grow through the years. For me, apart from anything else, it has been the bhpian friends that I have made over the years that I cherish most. I have said it several times and will reiterate again, I was an introvert all my life till I met like minded people through this forum and came out of the shell!

Last edited by BlackPearl : 14th February 2019 at 00:36.
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Old 14th February 2019, 00:43   #4
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Happy 15th!

Maintaining topnotch quality with honest reviews for 15 years is really a huge task which Team-Bhp has made it look so easy!

I can imagine the immense back-end pressure the moderators have to take. Congrats to all the contributors of Team-Bhp too, for which what we are today!

Wish Team-Bhp to march forward in the same fashion, its been for the past 15 years!

Crazy Bhpian's enjoying to the core in a Team-Bhp meet! May this spirit continue forever & ever!

Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!-img_5322.jpg

Last edited by Samba : 14th February 2019 at 01:03.
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Old 14th February 2019, 00:45   #5
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Think Different #14 - First in quality, not first to publish

In a market where everyone rushes to get their reviews out within a couple of seconds after the embargo - I believe Team Bhp is the only website that thoroughly analyses cars and makes sure the quality is never compromised.

Pardon me for quoting this post from the Harrier thread, but this totally deserves to be mentioned here.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Will need it for 5 days minimum because of the photoshoot + city drive (Aditya) + highway drive (Aditya) + Sunday highway drive (me). No way we can do a review in a matter of hours. And especially for such an important car, we really need to spend a lot of time with it to understand it.
5 days just to observe the car, against ~5 hours that others spent for an entire review during a media event. The quality is not just in the details, write-ups or pics - it is in understanding the product right, before starting to pen it all down.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 14th February 2019 at 01:00.
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Old 14th February 2019, 00:45   #6
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Wishing Team-BHP a Happy 15th Birthday and many more to come. This has been my go-to site to search for any topic and get the information be it sports, cinema, travelogues, career and what not. Its an encyclopedia having vast information and not to forget our BHPians vast knowledge on all subject matters. Its a proud feeling for me to be part of such a wonderful community. Once again wishing Team-BHP a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY..
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Old 14th February 2019, 00:54   #7
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

15 Years ! Ageing like a fine wine !

Many congratulations to the founders for the idea / thought, and specially members whose contribution makes Team-BHP a gold mine in the auto industry !

A Proud BHP-ian !
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Old 14th February 2019, 01:04   #8
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

I was waiting when this thread will be put up!! Thanks to this forum, I have got so many like minded friends , who help me in not only car related queries ( heck , there are a few who ignore their dinner to be on video call to try to resolve and troubleshoot when my car was stranded), but also travel, medicine and even other tech related queries !! Kudos to the spirit and camaraderie
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Old 14th February 2019, 02:21   #9
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

A big big achievement. Agree with the specialities of Team BHP mentioned here. Every member has been immensely benefited here.

Congratulations to GTO, Team BHP and all the team of Team BHP.
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Old 14th February 2019, 04:55   #10
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Congratulations GTO and the Team BHP team.In a world where every start up is chasing clicks or eyeballs or GMV or some other metric aimed at making a quick flip to a greater fool, you have built something that is truly unique. I have always believed that the truly great businesses are built by someone passionate about serving an unmet need - and money comes along as the reward for that service. The fact that Team BHP has survived and thrived in the face of competition from big traditional media, venture funded start ups and other Social Media, shows that you are doing something right. I do hope that this community continues to thrive and you get the just rewards for this labor of love.
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Old 14th February 2019, 05:29   #11
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Many happy returns of the day, Team-BHP !
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Old 14th February 2019, 06:46   #12
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Happy Birthday, and Congratulations! At this age when people are moving from traditional forum format to app-driven contents and fancy videos, we are still going strong in the traditional format – pages and pages of useful content; proof that real quality is valued.
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Old 14th February 2019, 06:50   #13
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Happy Birthday Team-BHP.

Congratulations to GTO, Moderators and all the BHPians.

Very Happy and proud to be a part of Team-BHP.
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Old 14th February 2019, 07:17   #14
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Wishing Team-BHP a very happy Birthday on its 15th anniversary.
Extremely happy and proud to be here at Team-BHP.
Congratulations to GTO, moderators and fellow members on this milestone.
Many many more to come.
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Old 14th February 2019, 07:36   #15
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Default Re: Celebrating 15 years of doing it DIFFERENTLY : Happy Birthday, Team-BHP!

Think Different #15 - Friendship, Brotherhood & Family

Even though we all start off as funny anonymous forum names with tiny faceless pictures below them, the friendships that slowly form here are truly amazing.

Sure, Team-BHP is about cars. But it's also about people!

A lot of members now have more BHPian friends than college or work friends, and definitely prefer hanging out with the BHPian friends too

There are so many stories of BHPians needing help (be it stranded on a road trip, needing blood, or having an injured family member in hospital in another country) - where other members have come to the rescue with no questions asked.

The beauty of it? Sometimes these 'friends' have never even met in real life! The only link between them is that they are both BHPians.

I don't think we could have ever imagined this incredible level of brotherhood & family within our community. In fact, the first time we had a Team-BHP meet, it felt a little strange and perhaps even suspicious to be 'meeting someone you met on the internet' - but things changed very quickly indeed!

Last edited by Rehaan : 14th February 2019 at 07:49.
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