Sachin Bharadwaj, Sacona Entertainment, On providing an innovative entertainment module

26th May 2011
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Ever imagined an entertainment module where you can watch movies of your choice, get the choice of playing 3D games or listening to music, even have a video conference to chat with an old friend, or just relax in great ambiance!

You can find all this in Sacona’s eO, says Entrepreneur Sachin, in a conversation with YourStory.in

So Sachin, tell us about Sacona.

Sacona Entertainment is a firm striving towards excellence in customer service through its innovative gaming products and services. Sacona Entertainment was started in 2007, and is advancing steadily towards being a befitting service provider in the arena of gaming. Sacona is focusing on next generation gaming market. We design and manufacture designer enclosures, which are highly advanced in technology and most futuristic in looks. Our products are meant for providing luxurious and ultra-rich experience in 3D gaming. Being highly modular, our products can be installed at any location, and are specially designed for places like Malls, Airports, Amusement parks, Cafes etc. Kids and teens are our target customers.

What is your market differentiator?

Sacona provides personalized 3D gaming experience, with a rich blend of creativity, technology, and engineering!

Is there a story behind starting up Sacona?

Over the years, several entertainment units have aspired to cater to the diverse entertainment related needs of a user like audio playing, movie playing, television, video conferencing, gaming, and internet browsing. These devices have become more sophisticated over time with the advent of new technologies but still most of them are specialized only to cater to needs of a few users. A user has to, typically, have access to a number of different devices to satisfy all of his entertainment related needs. The existing systems do not provide one-stop solution to all entertainment needs of a user. Also another issue of privacy arises when the user is seeking entertainment outside the house. Thus a need was felt for an entertainment system which addresses the above mentioned limitations of the existing devices.

I pursued my passion for wholesome entertainment and decided to venture to fill in a void in the entertainment industry i.e. the missing combination of movie watching, gaming, listening to music, conferencing and just relaxing in a private exquisite environment. Being an electronics engineer and having experience from the consumer electronics industry, I could apply my knowledge to fill the gap in the arena of wholesome entertainment.

During October 2007, I wanted to rent a theatre. I wanted to provide the home theatre entertainment in an exclusive and exquisite environment for a small group of 10 people. The idea was to open at least two such theatres in a busy street where people in groups could watch movies of their choice in this specialized environment. The idea then evolved to provide an even more private environment for a smaller group of just two people. This entertainment unit was christened eO, which stands for entertainment inside an "O"

Sachin

During Jan 2008, my partners Mona, Deepak and I worked our way to create a rough demo piece of eO just within a week of hitting upon this new concept. The first piece was a box of ply wood with a normal door like entrance. A PC with a 21 inch monitor was housed in it to enable movie watching. Next an Xbox was added to play games as well. Kids loved to get into it because they thought it to be a ‘doll house’. Acoustics was studied and materials were pasted all over inside this unit to create an effective and impressive sound environment.During March 2008, the basic idea had been translated into a real box equipped suitably to watch movies and play games in a great environment. Soon after, I started work with a design house in Bangalore to create the new look of the unit and the eO was conceptualized!

The next task was to build a complex device like an eO without moulds and patterns and still make it look as great as the eO that was conceptualized. It took six long months to get the eO ready for the demo purpose. By end of Dec 2008, the alpha prototype of the eO took off.

The alpha proto of eO was launched in a private luxury club (The Woodrose Club, of Brigade Group) in Bangalore in Feb 2009. The purpose was end user testing, and to get the real feedback from Sacona's end customers. The response Sacona received from club Woodrose was extremely positive, which encouraged us to invest in industrial quality tools.

The first real eO was ready in July 2010, which was then launched in Mantri Square Mall, Bangalore, in Aug 2011. eO was launched as gameball in Mantri Square.

One can play inside eO gameball after paying Rs. 100 for 10 mins of 3D gaming, and can choose from more than 100 games to be played in 3D inside. Average occupancy recorded by us is 70%.

Features of eO gameball are

  • Designed for one OR two OR three people.
  • Multi format 3D gaming enabled.
  • Unique modular design.
  • Large windows to serve as emergency exits.
  • High Definition 3D Video.
  • Multi channel surround sound environment, with strong bass effects.
  • Recliner Chairs.
  • Mood lighting experience.
  • Air Conditioner with automatic temperature control.
  • Agronomical design.
  • High electrical safety.
  • High Audio Privacy.
  • Plug & Play.
  • Choice of latest Games in 3D.
  • Generic platform for best technology integration in gaming/entertainment industry.

Sacona

With 90% of its customers have given excellent feedback, Sacona is now looking to expand its gaming operations at various malls at PAN India level.Tell us about your background. Do you have co-founders?

I am an electronics engineer(92-96 batch) from MIT Manipal; with a general management qualification from IIM B. Before Sacona, I have 11 years of consumer electronics & telecom software product experience at Infosys and Philips. My partner, Mona Bharadwaj, Non executive Director, is an electronics engineer(92-96 batch) from RVCE, Bangalore. Before Sacona she has 11 years of telecom IT management experience at Infosys and IBM. She worked actively full- time for 3 years with Sacona. Currently she is with IBM as a manager for partner enablement. Her strengths are business development, branding and marketing. She provides strategic help & needed support to Sacona. Manish Singhal, Founder & CEO, Saarthi Integrated Consulting, advises Sacona on its business strategy.

Let us know of the tie-ups that you have.

The first real eO was ready in July 2010, which was then launched in Mantri Square Mall, Bangalore, in Aug 2011. eO was launched as eO gameball in Mantri Square. The next installation has happened with Royal Meenakshi Mall, Bangalore. The talks are in progress with In-orbit Mall Mumbai, Forum Value Mall, Bangalore etc.

Where do you see your start up five years from now?

We envision to see Sacona operating at more than 100 Indian Malls in next 5 years. Also Sacona would want to be present at Global locations like Dubai, Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, etc. We aspire to be an INR 100 Cr company in next five years.

Have you been funded? If yes, can you throw some light on how the funding came about and from whom?

Promoters have invested close to INR 1 Cr, and funded the complete R&D operations. The promoters together have spent close to 8 man years in the project, and have not drawn any salary for past 3 years. Sacona has received collateral Free Bank Loan from IDBI Bank in Mar 2011. The funding came through directly approaching Bank, and proposing Sacona’s business idea. The Bank was very convinced about the idea, and was ready to fund our expansion for next 6 machines.

As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?

Our entrepreneurial journey (last 3 years) has been very satisfying till date. After doing Sacona, I have realized that value creation is an addiction far beyond being in any Job. There were lots of ups and downs, and the biggest achievement has been to see our idea (from thought level) taking physical shape, and doing very well in the market. It feels great when people appreciate and use our product. We feel proud after proving to the world that such products also can come from India. Sacona is our first startup, and currently there are no other plans except giving more than 100% to Sacona itself.

My main challenges were, to find right vendors and partners for manufacturing, to arrange for required resources, to withstand apprehensions which are inevitable with any innovation. My current challenges are, to receive external funding required for PAN India expansion, to be way ahead of any current or future competition, to come out with strong and practical Go-to-market strategy, to build a strong gaming brand.

How big is your team? Are you looking at hiring?

We are about 10 people strong and are looking to hire two more people in the immediate future.

Let us know about your expansion plans.

In the first year, we plan to scale up to 6 metros – 16 Malls - 64 eOs. In the second and third years, we plan to scale up to tier2 Indian cities – 200 locations.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Sharing some of the statistics:

  • Installed at Mantri Square Mall Malleshwaram, Bangalore.
  • More than 100 people play per day play in one eO gameball
  • More than 800 enquire per day
  • Avg. wait time on a weekend is 30 mins
  • More than 10000 people pass eO gameball per day
  • Average occupancy is 70%
  • Rs. 100 for 10 mins of 3D gaming
  • More than 4000 physical feedback forms received
  • 90% of customers gave excellent feedback
  • Operational profitability is 60%

Do check out http://www.sacona.com/ for more details! Next time you are in Mantri Square, you may want to drop by!

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