Money in the Entertainment business! Startup Saturday Mumbai, May 2009

The vertical chosen was for Startup Saturday Mumbai, May Edition was Entertainment, and the first presenter was Sunil Nair CEO of What is When Sunil started telling us about it, the first thing which came to my mind was: Hulu! But as I later found out there are some key differences. The fact also remains that Hulu was founded in 2008 and in 2006.’s s mission is to help people find and

enjoy the world’s premium video content when, where and how they want it (ok, I pasted his from their About Us section). They have some amazing features, such as allowing users to create their own channels by picking up premium content from various channels (a feature they call iNautanki). They allow their widgets to be embedded into other websites, blogs and even emails. As their site says, and as Sunil reiterated ‘We are everywhere!’. Did I mention that for us (viewers) all this was free AND legal at the same time. Awesome! Sunil shared the following tips for startups – gyaan as he called it:

  • Know your investor
  • Know your partners and collaboratos
  • Know what motivates people
  • Collaborate

Next, we had Rahesh and Rupesh from Just before they started, Aditya asked the audience how many people have heard of bookmyshow. A majority of hands went up (including mine, the last show I booked was Vir Das: Walking on broken Das). Then Aditya asked how many had heard of it over a year ago. Only about five hands. Just goes to show what amazing growth these guys have had. To put it into numbers, they’ve had 40% growth year on year (the audience sample was not representative of the general public it seems :)). Bookmyshow has an interesting software architecture. The ERP used by the theatres exposes the inventory of seats to bookmyshow, which they use to provide real time seating information to us on their website. Including a live seating chart as well. As the USP of the application is the experience it offers the ticket bookers, the chart was part of the original blueprint of the website.

The next speaker, for those in the know was the most awaited one. Gul Panag (Website, wikipedia, twitter) entered, right on time. That was the first thing which probably goes against the perception of the Hindi ‘Phillum Ishtar’ concept. She was as articulate as she was good looking (she used the words ‘archaic’ and ‘anachronistic’). Gul has been a national level debater, a Miss India (1999) and one of the first people from the Indian Film Industry to have her own website (as also twitter account). She said she has conciously chosen to approach her career from a long term perspective and is choosing her work keeping that in mind. She went on to say how the people using Social Media are her perfect target market. This is when I realized that  – Early adopter, selective about the work she does, having a long term perspective and talented – Gul has all the qualities that a great startup would have. What a perfect match.

After Gul’s talk, we had a short break, following which Mr. Dale Bhagwagar, one of the leading PR professionals (he has an agency, the Dale Bhagwagar Media Group) in the entertainment industry took the dias. Dale was candid and open throughout the talk (even though it was being recorded) and brought out some very interesting points. He spoke about his own story, from starting as a music reviewer for a local Nagpur newspaper to a journalist and Chief Sub Editor in Mumbai for Cineblitz to starting his PR agency twelve years ago. He has since represented film personalities ranging from Sherlyn Chopra (?!) to Hrithik Roshan 🙂 and films ranging from Kunwara to most recently Rock On!! He spoke about how he has kept in touch with the newer trends such as blogging and social networks, which has allowed him to survive when other PR agencies have not been able to. He went on to say that this is both a good and a bad time to start in the PR space. Bad because journalism itself is going through its worst phase (he gave the example of India TV). At the same time, it is good because in reccesionary times, he said companies slash their marketing budgets and increase their PR budgets.

Overall, Startup Saturday Mumbai May 09 was a glamorous event, with a lot of learning thrown in as well.

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