“A common hitch in turning entrepreneur is about giving up a secure job and picking up something like photography. We'd like to say that if a job is paying you few lakhs today, it is coming at the cost of your freedom and unless you are financially strained, there is no reason why you shouldn't go out there and buy back your own freedom,” this is the advice co-founders of KnotInFocus would like to give aspiring entrepreneurs.
Who are they?
Knotinfocus is a startup that specialises in wedding photography and both the co-founders followed the same mantra when they decided to startup. Anand Rathi used to hedge cash flows and trade in foreign currencies, and in his own words he: “Studied engineering because he was 'better' at competitive exams than thousands of others. Studied MBA because he understood the entire 'how to get a top banking job' game better than most. But when he studied photography, for the first (and only) time in my life, he fall hook, line and sinker for something he hadn't never intended for!” From clicking pictures to send home while studying in New York, and then taking up photography as a full-time profession, things have come a long for Anand.
His co-founder Abhinav Sah is a graduate in computer science, but gave up a related job within a week to nurture his creative interests through animation and VFX. Abhinav has since done VFX for both Bollywood and Hollywood films for the last 12 years. He first picked up a camera in 2005 while working for Disney in Bangalore, and slowly started shooting commissioned work for friends from the industry. A friend asked him to shoot her wedding in 2009, which was the turning point in his life. And after shooting weddings for 3 years while simultaneously working as VFX supervisor for films, there came a time when managing two top jobs became more difficult. So Abhinav finally decided to take the plunge on this side of the fence.
The movie Band, Baaja, Baarat was a good public showcase of the Big Fat Indian Wedding. As for the real size of this ‘big’ and ‘fat’ the Indian wedding industry is, Anand pegs it at being a $2 billion industry. “Alex Kuruvilla of Conde Nast India values the Indian wedding market at 38 billion USD with average growth rate of 20-25%. Our approximation is that photography and wedding film budget is placed at 4 to 6% in an average wedding. And from the trends that we have seen in the past years, the photography budget in weddings has grown at a rate of almost 30%. This clearly emphasizes the importance couples are placing on getting a good photographer,” he says.
The other opportunity lies with customers themselves who want to capture their weddings in the most memorable way. A major part of Knotinfocus’ clientele is NRI, and to date the startup has shot over 125 weddings and grown 45% YOY since launch. “Our target market is the top percentiles of Indian weddings. We do only select number of weddings every year and we want to make sure that we give the best to each and every of our prestigious clientele,” explains Abhinav.
Knotinfocus’ service may cost up to Rs 5,00,000 per day – which includes a team of 8 to 10 member professional wedding shooters and editors. Deliverables by them include personalized wedding albums for guests, custom songs for your wedding film etc.
The startup relies on social and online presence and invest in boosting their internet presence, search engine optimizations, social media etc. Offline marketing is equally important to them and recommendations from ex-clients are very valuable too. “We are very particular about our relations with people from wedding fraternity and have been strong believers of the networking effect. We have been fortunate to be recognized by national and international publications and the media promotions do help as well,” says Abhinav, who has won the Kodak Wedding Photographer of the year 2010 – 'Behind the Scenes’ category.
The future is bright
Anand lives by a Peter Drucker saying: "The best way to predict future is to create it", he therefore dreams to be a recognized commercial photographer and to take Indian wedding photography up to the global platform.
“You win or lose a client purely on your merit. You don't get to blame it on others but also take the credit for your own success. Creating something new and making people happy through our work is what pushes us to keep innovating every single day,” he says.
Jodi Clickers is another startup in the same space as Knotinfocus. But quiz Knotinfocus about competition, and they say, they would rather focus on their strengths and not be worried about competition. Working on customer feedback, learning new techniques, customer service, investment in crew and technology and the ability to take on weddings of any scale – are some of the differentiators they bring to the table.
On the team front, Anand says they look for team players and don’t mind getting in budding photographers. "Capturing Indian weddings can be tricky. For us, hiring a team player who can enjoy the wedding he/she shoots matters more than hiring a technically sound but dull photographer,” he says.
Challenges in the business continue to be the perception attached to the profession, which has mostly been frowned upon as a profession, and been dominated by studios for decades. “We'd like to work towards creating awareness for the new age of wedding photography and would like to stand tall as celebrated artist on a global platform,” dreams Abhinav. And the other challenge is the low entry barrier in the space they operate in: “Candid wedding photography is plagued by entrants who are ready to cut cost in order to make easy money,” rues Abhinav. However, they are hopeful that their focus on quality and chase for excellence will make their clientele realise the difference they bring to the table.
Check Knotinfocus out if you plan to have a Big Fat Indian Wedding!