Case Study: Kalpa Limited / China Files (Italy and Spain)

The name of the publication and / or company

Kalpa Limited (company) – China Files (publication)



Web Address

Form of the company


Describe your site or business in few words.

Simone Pieranni, founder of China Files, explains: “China Files is a startup based in Beijing, focusing on in-depth coverage of China-related issues for Italian- and Spanish-speaking media outlets. Our business model is that of the news-agency: producing multimedia stories (text, video, pictures, interactive features) to re-sell to mainstream outlets. Currently we work with more than 30 European and South-American media outlets (print, radio, broadcasting and online). Recently we have started to offer supplementary services, too, as, for example, press roundups on China-related issues for Italian and Spanish corporations, press office consultancy for institutions (e.g. European Union, Embassies) and companies investing in China. These services are more remunerative than producing editorial content, but our main focus remains the journalistic activity.”

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

Content creators, paid full-time


Content creators, paid freelancers


Are some of the content creators citizen contributors or interns?

1 intern

How is your time divided between doing business and content?

70% content, 30% new business. But this ratio can change, depending on specific circumstances.

Business, marketing & sales, paid full-time



How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability


Would you say your business model is sustainable?

Thanks to the lower cost of life in China, from the very beginning China Files has been sustainable. During the last two years, we have also been able to re-invested dividends in new business.

How much is your yearly or monthly revenue?

25,000 euro monthly

Where does your revenue go?

Most of our revenues go to wages. Then we have to afford fixed costs for our offices and variable costs for business development (especially to upgrade hardware and software we need for our reporting).

How much do you pay to your contributors?

We pay contributors on a monthly basis and per story. There is no standard rule, it depends on different factors: the typology of the story, how long it took to be reported and produced, the media outlet where it will befeatured.

What about profit?

We would use the extra profit to hire more reporters and producers (actually we are understaffed for the amount of work we do). We would also like to diversify  our productions, investing more on video and multimedia stories.

What services you sell?

Freelancing – journalism and non-journalism, Design

What virtual or physical products do you sell?

Ebooks, Software, plugins or apps, Audio, Video, Books, Special editions of content.

Do you see your publication as your main product?

Kalpa Unlimited produces two publications: China Files (that is our corporate website, but also the place where we republish all the stories we sell to our customers) and Caratteri Cinesi (an aggregator of the most prominent Chinese bloggers, whose posts are translated in Italian). From the very beginning we have decided not to monetize these publications (so you will never find any advertising on them). They are just a marketing tool for promoting the services we offer.

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

Currently the most important thing is hiring more people: we need to increase our staff in order to offer more compelling stories. Then we would like to expand our coverage to other Asian countries. As for now we have a stringer in India, but India is a huge area to cover so one person is not enough, especially if we want to keep on producing quality and original content. Actually, this is our main challenge: producing first-hand stories based on coverage coming from reporters on the ground (not the kind of low-cost content you can write at your desk) while being sustainable.