It always takes a leap of faith and intense passion to quit a job to start something entirely new in the domain that is not known to you. Fear of failure keeps many away from starting such dream ventures. Magesh Kumar Gurumurthy, with his friends Baskar Ethirajan and Sajesh Nair, started IndianStage to inform art patrons about performing art events in the cities of India and also to connect ARTISTS with the FANS. Despite initial discouragement, the trio went on to prove that performing arts is a profitable sector and has huge potential for business opportunities. With more than 1000 shows behind it, IndianStage is surely rocking! The British Council has recognized this bold venture with Young Creative Entrepreneur Award for Performing Arts 2010. In a chat with Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist, YourStory, Magesh takes YourStory through his entrepreneurial journey and what was behind it.
Congratulations Magesh for winning the British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur Award for Performing Arts in 2010.
Thank you very much. It’s an honour for all of us at IndianStage and recognition for our work in the performing sector.
What does the award mean to you?
This award is an encouragement to young entrepreneurs venturing into business. The common perception of people about Performing Arts [LIVE entertainment] is that it’s only addressing niche audience and lacks business potential for investment and development. The award from British Council has disproved this belief and has encouraged people like us working in the performing arts sector. There is no such recognition for performing arts in the entire country and I thank British Council for this recognition and encouragement for entrepreneurs venturing in performing arts sector.The award also opens doors to know fellow entrepreneurs in this sector, to network with them and explore the potential of this sector. It also establishes a bridge between India and UK performing arts market in the possible business collaborations in the days to come.
What’s the inspiration to start IndianStage?
We are just a bunch of enthusiastic group of people who are interested in LIVE entertainment. We have no artist talent or experience working in this sector prior IndianStage. But we noticed gap of connecting artists with the fans. People were not aware of LIVE shows and got to know only when it was over. Also from the event organiser’s perspective, selling tickets for these shows were not easy. We realised this gap quickly and formed IndianStage that showcases wonderful melange of performing art shows happening in the cities of India to the right audience, thereby helping event organisers sell tickets effectively.
What is the business model of Indian Stage?
Our business model is of two types: We sell tickets for all LIVE entertainment shows in India. We charge a nominal commission to the event organisers that ranges from 0 – 10 % of the ticket value. Its 100% success-based model – we sell tickets we make money, else we don’t! We also produce our own shows. The idea is to bring quality live entertainment shows to people. We bring creative content from across country (national and international) to the enthusiastic audience.
Is audience for performing arts niche?
NO! Performing Arts shows are for all categories of people – children, youth, young, old that interests to audiences with all genre preferences like theatre plays, children’s plays, music, dance, musicals, instrumentals, stand-up comedies and so on….
Performing arts appeals to common man who is seeking an alternate form of entertainment, and we are working to create awareness about performing arts among all people. The key is to get the show to the right audience - connecting ARTISTS to the FANS!
If you take the evolved markets like in USA & UK, performing arts are the mainstream entertainment among masses. Given an option between movies and live entertainment, people there prefer to watch live shows than movies. In fact, live show tickets are difficult to get and expensive than a movie ticket!
The situation in India is, Bollywood [Movies] and Cricket is the mainstream entertainment among the mass. Performing arts as an entertainment LIVE entertainment is only restricted to the niche audience who are passionate about this form of entertainment. However, the situation is changing… After working with over 1000 events, we are noticing the trend, that people are looking for alternative means of entertainment other than movies and sports. People are tired of watching flop movies (except few ones in a year) that does not give entertainment value for the time and bucks spent. People are open to watch LIVE shows if the show has quality content and unique in nature. LIVE shows are applicable to aam admi and cater to different genres. Watching live show is an amazing experience that cannot be compared to watching movie or sports. You must see to believe it J
We believe we can bring a change here by offering quality LIVE shows to the masses and inform the audience about such shows well in advance.
When did you start this venture and how many shows have you conducted?
We started IndianStage in July 2008. So far, we have ticketed for over 1100 events and have also produced 10 own shows.
What is the largest component of your shows?
Performing arts (LIVE entertainment) in any form - it can be theatre play, music, dance, instrumentals, concerts, stand-up comedies. Any live performance on stage except fashion shows J
Which of these shows have attracted huge audience appeal?
That's a difficult question to figure which genre has huge audience appeal. Each genre – be it LIVE concerts, dance, music, theatre has its own fan followers. For masses, music and theatre seems to appeal in general. For example, if there is a Naseeruddin Shah’s play in town, all the theatre enthusiasts would love to watch the show to see him on stage, if Sonu Nigam is singing, then the music lovers would flock into to watch him sing. There are fan followers for each genre and good content will only attract these fans to the shows.
What was the superhit show that sold very well on IndiaStage?
As I said, there are more than 25 genres that we work in different intervals. Each genre has its own Fan followers and will sell well among those masses that have interest in that genre. General trend is that foreign troupes have greater appeal and audience since it’s rarely available. Hindi / English (Indian content) is any day preferred among audience in all genres. These shows are packed with fans and are house-full all the times. Regional content is yet to gain the importance that it deserves, but we are noticing the changing trend even with regional shows.
Is your venture profitable?
We are self-funded from the very beginning. We broke even in the first 6 month itself and are cash positive. We are now in the expansion mode and are looking for VC funding to expand in cities other than metros.
Can you tell us about the founders of this venture?
The venture started with three passionate friends who were excited to start own ventures while we were all working in IT companies. Baskar, Sajesh and myself used to work together when we consulted for IT companies which got us together. Its fun when put our ideas to work together. That’s the thing about entrepreneurship – the freedom for thinking creative and innovative - and having fun while we do our business together!
How did this venture take shape?
Three of us were always passionate about entrepreneurship and were exploring for such possibilities. Suddenly we came across the idea of around performing arts sector and thus IndianStage was born. We had no experience working in the performing arts sector – we were just enthusiast art lovers. While we were still working, we were so excited and kicked about this idea and entrepreneurship. In a phased manner, we quit our jobs and ventured into the business full-time!