Anand Gurnani of AnimationXpress on being an ‘interactive’ entrepreneur
Serial entrepreneur Anand Gurnani is someone who started very early. He launched his first company at the age of 15 and has been involved with 6 ventures till now. But he makes no bones about the ace in his pack, AnimationXpress.com, which is one of the world’s leading portals for the animation domain. Anand was also one of the finalists at the British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards for 2008 in the Interactive category.To know more about the Young Interactive Entrepreneur Awards, click here. To follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards on Facebook, check out http://www.facebook.com/YCEAwards.
In this chat with YourStory, Anand speaks about the progress that AnimationXpress has made and how writing continues to remain his first love.
We understand that you are just back from a very special trip to France.
Yes! We at AnimationXpress.com organized the Indian Animation Industry Pavilion at MIFA & ANNECY 2011 (the world's largest animation market and festival) where the leading studios from India and 20 delegates participated. We were very glad to get an opportunity to publish the Indian Animation Directory and Show Reel and proudly hand it out to thousands of delegates out there. It’s a huge milestone for our company which has been very zealously projecting and evangelizing Indian animation to the world.
How did AnimationXpress happen?
There was a period of 2-3 years when, after shutting down my traditional businesses, I was transitioning to new media. Back then, I was working at IndianTelevision.com. I was the most enthusiastic guy at work, reaching office at 5 in the morning and leaving at 9 at night. I was broadly in charge of all the newsletters that we sent and was also doubling up as designer, print and web production guy, etc.
It so happened that my former boss and current partner at AnimationXpress.com, Anil Wanvari had just returned from the MIPTV market in Cannes where he is the Indian representative and he mentioned aloud in an editorial meeting that we need to start something for animation. I remember overhearing it as I was not in the meeting (as it was an 'editorial only' meeting).
But I followed up persistently. I took charge of the project and launched AnimationXpress as a fortnightly newsletter with links to animation stories from all over the other publications. Within 6 months, I was writing content and developed an in-house editorial setup. Within 2 years with several media partnerships, in-depth case studies, insightful interviews and a focus on positive developments, I established AnimationXpress.com as the voice of Indian animation. I was running it single-handedly for nearly 3 years until I finally built a team and also graduated to being co-owner, co-founder, CEO & managing editor of AnimationXpress.Tell us about your background.
I am a high school dropout, a serial entrepreneur, a writer and a restless creative person who loves ideating, conceptualizing and then committing to the idea to bring it to life.
I launched my first company and brand Khushboo Agarbatti Works at the age of 15 and since then, I have launched and founded 6 companies and brands. AnimationXpress.com was launched in 2003.
How has the journey been since then?
Things are pretty different now. We have a 13 member team and have spoken, partnered and participated at all the leading conferences, trade fairs and festivals around the world and AnimationXpress.com is amongst the world's top 3 animation information portals and the most popular portal and B2B information source in all of India and South Asia.
We have also launched axapac.com, which is the Asia Pacific edition of AnimationXpress.com and works closely with the government agencies from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
We have also initiated and managed half a dozen conferences and events including AITF (Animation Interactive Technology Forum), AFF (Animated Feature Forum) IAI (Industry Academia Interface), etc. We have powered the Animation Awards for CNBC TV18 and have also organized the India tour of Academy Award-winning VFX wizards along with the VES in LA.
As an entrepreneur in the ‘interactive’ space, what are your views about the gaming and animation industry in India today? Where do you see it five years from now?
The animation and gaming industries in India are today poised for tremendous growth. India has very strongly established its credentials as the quality hub for animation and CGI production, having consistently delivered quality projects on time and with finesse for top Hollywood and international projects, year on year. And the number of projects being handled and delivered by Indian studios is just growing every year.
With regard to the creation of self-owned brands and intellectual property, the Indian companies have already succeeded in establishing the first few Iconic home-grown characters and in the next 3-4 years, we are going to witness the rise of Indian animation and gaming in this aspect as well.
In 5 years, we will see the emergence of a freelance assignment-based culture amidst Indian animation artists and within the studio ecosystem. Most of the world's top animation and gaming brands already have facilities in India. In the next 5 years, the other half too will follow suit.Creativity and pre-production skills, which till now have not been the major focus as we are dominated by production skill-set focus, will emerge and rise.
The missing link in the chain is a developed distribution ecosystem (broadcast, theatrical, home entertainment, mobile, online, retail, merchandising and licensing avenues) that makes it feasible for content creators to produce high-quality content for the local market. This too is expected to evolve and Indian animation will be at its peak then.
You were a finalist at the YCE Awards in 2008. How was your experience?
Fabulous! There is something that I just love about being a contestant there. It created an anchor around which I could plan and focus my project pitch to. It also gave me a chance to reflect and be a bit more objective about my projects, strengths and weaknesses. The whole thing about it being initiated by the British Council and the title being ‘Young Creative Entrepreneur’ makes me wait for the contest to be announced, year after year.
We at YourStory wish Anand and the entire team at AnimationXpress much more success. To know more, check outwww.animationxpress.com. Also, do write to email@example.com to let us know your thoughts about this story.
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