Events are commodities. Someone sells them and someone else buys them. At the heart of commoditization of events for the digital age there are platforms that help us in discovering and listing events.
A number of events are consumed in every corner of India on a daily basis. In fact, there are close to 1,00,000 events happening in India every year and the events industry has the market size of Rs 5,000 crores.
Back in 2007, a serial entrepreneur Chennapa Naidu returned to India from the US to embark on a journey of founding his new startup that aims to serve the underserved online events and ticketing market in India. The major challenge that the events industry faced was that there was no single platform where information about events of all kinds could be found. And that was the core pain area Naidu and his team have been striving to resolve ever since 2009. Though there were a few player who dabbled in the space pre-2007, it’s the advent of MeraEvent that has been like a breath of fresh air in the online event ticket booking space.
Users needed an interface that is clear and easy to understand, and that makes them feel like they are buying a ticket from a professional ticketing platform. Event organizers needed a solution where they can plan the fun things about their event without having to worry about payment gateways, building an RSVP system, creating tickets or collecting money at the door.
Before MeraEvents, organizers of small and mid-sized events had to rely on disparate tools: excel sheets as database, email for promotion, cash and checks for payments, and printed guest lists for check-in.
Naidu says, “When we had initially decided to launch a portal for events listing and promotions, we wanted to create a personalized feel for our customers about the events. After numerous brainstorming sessions and name suggestions, we decided on MeraEvents, which symbolizes events as well as bringing in a personal appeal with the Hindi word ‘mera’ that means ‘my’.
A few years ago, YourStory wrote about this ‘Startup which is steadily building one stop solution for all kinds of Events Tickets, MeraEvents.com’. Over the subsequent years, MeraEvents has evolved to be the leading player in its category. Now MeraEvents is a one-stop platform for events of all kinds. The platform handles a wide spectrum of events from professional, entertainment, sports, training, spiritual, campus, to trade shows, etc.
MeraEvent’s core offering?
Their USP is that they provide value addition to the event organizers which includes free event listing, varying paid promotional packages, and lowest payment gateway solution (1.99%) for selling tickets, etc.
They serve as a one-stop shop for all event-based needs ranging from venue search for events (Venues.MeraEvents.com), event listing, promoting, ticketing, viral sales of tickets (MeraEvents.com), networking platform before, during, and after the event (Moozup), Smart Mobile Web Application for event agenda (Moozuplite), badge printing and easy check in process at the events (EasyTag), digital brochures for exhibitors and organizations, etc. (DigiBroc), which is not being offered by any other organization. This makes MeraEvents a 360 degree event technology solutions company.
Highlights of MeraEvents changes
- MeraEvents has a new updated dashboard.
- Pricing plan has changed. Now it’s free to list an event, earlier MeraEvents used to charge Rs.1000/event.
- The company has introduced the concept of Viral Ticketing. The person who buys the ticket can refer many of his friends and win referral bonus. [Video]
- Added tracking of Sales Efforts. Now the organizer knows how many tickets were sold through his efforts, viral ticketing efforts, and MeraEvents efforts. There’s no need to pay more for the organizer’s efforts.
- Partnered with UBER so everyone who buys ticket from MeraEvents gets two Rs.500 worth of vouchers to ride in style.
Journey not a cake walk
“There are times when all our hard work goes futile as the events get called off or fail to deliver to the expectations. This creates a lot of problems for us as we have to refund the payments and appease the disgruntled customers,” quips Naidu.
“With MeraEvents, every moment has been a memorable and a learning experience. While the fact that we work relentlessly so that our patrons can enjoy the events is something that may seem depressing, we have constantly been striving to give our best to the events, so that the patrons can have even our share of fun at the events,” he adds.
On hiring for events industry
The events industry requires high energy levels, which is what MeraEvents seeks in its prospective employees, and a passion for making an event a success.
Naidu shares an anecdote of one such recruitment experience at MeraEvents when they had called for applicants to join them for a 4 km jog at 6 am. They had only four people who turned up. They finally chose only one person to join the organization.
The desire to explore the unconventional is what serves as a key requirement in an events industry as compared to high knowledge levels. They opt for people with an innate curiosity and entrepreneur skills, as they are keys to succeed in the events industry. They also look for people who attend a lot of events as they are aware of the pain areas in the industry and can help address the concerns as a team.
Naidu says, “We have recently expanded our base in Bangalore as it has great potential. We had earlier had several failed attempts at trying to recruit people to run a one-man show. However, things did not turn out pretty good, which is why this time we have decided to send our senior resource to set up a full-fledged office and manage the operations from our Bangalore office, which would facilitate in achieving our mission of enabling every organizer in the country to use our services.”
Market size and expansion plans
Today they retail on an average Rs 3-4 lakhs worth of tickets per day, roughly about 150 tickets per day. That is close to Rs 1 crore worth tickets per month and it continues to grow. MeraEvents aims at ticket sales of around Rs 200 crores in 2017. The events market in India is huge, so far only one percent of the events happening in the country have been covered digitally and there is immense scope for expansion.
Naidu says, “We are currently focusing on capturing the huge market of over Rs 5,000 crores in India, which is our target audience. As said earlier, we are aiming to include all the events happening across the country on our platform.”
Their monetization model is taking a small percentage of the tickets value as revenue share, which can at times go as high at 6-10% based on the amount of promotions they provide to the events.
Facing the competition
MeraEvents CEO Naidu says, “We do have competition in the market just like any other business. In our case we have immensely benefited from our competitors, as there were numerous players which entered the market, but failed to stay long as they could not face the competition. As of now, there are not many competitors in the market, but we see Explara as our competition in the Indian events industry. However, it is the presence of healthy competition that leads to consistent growth so I believe that business requires competition.”
Internationally, Eventbrite is a dominant market leader, although MeraEvents doesn’t have any global operations yet.
As MeraEvents business model is essentially focused on the Indian market, they are looking at funds from Indian investors, which if not turned fruitful; they wouldn’t hesitate in approaching the Asian market investors.
“We have tested, verified, and researched this market as we know we are here for the long run. We are trying to look for expansion of the organization on a big scale, which would require a marketing budget, and for this we are looking for funding from the VC community,” says Naidu.
The past few months have been really productive and positive news in terms of funding is around the corner.
Naidu’s advice to other entrepreneurs
“I would like to advise entrepreneurs that they should not go for a copycat model of business; rather look for niche ideas and business ventures. India has so many challenges and problems, from which the entrepreneurs can create their own niche. Secondly, I believe that they should focus on just one area and have a definite metrics even before starting the business, which needs to be measured every day.”
Naidu says, “Businesses are here for the long run and the events industry is constantly growing. It is always teamwork that ensures success of a business, and we have an immensely passionate team, which is constantly striving to achieve the organizational goals.”
The two things that India wants from event booking platforms, include
Secondary Ticket Marketplace: When you have bought a ticket for a concert/event/show and are unable to go for it, the only thing you can do is sell your ticket either on twitter or post it on facebook. This problem can be solved to a huge extent by integrating a secondary ticket market by matching those who are in search of ticket for sold-out events and those people who are looking to dispose their tickets and redeem its cost.
Customizable Event Page: Right now the concept of customizable front-end theme is broken in India across all event ticketing websites. When an organization runs an event it wants to be able to create an event website that matches its branding in its own sub-domain. These offerings are not yet available.