This article is a part of the CitySparks series sponsored by Verisign
Going to the movies has always been an experience people cherish and V.S. Pradeep realised this early on. His vision was to take Tamil cinema legally to every home through the online medium, at affordable rates, in brilliant quality and with flawless streaming.
Pradeep was pursuing an MBA in Hyderabad's prestigious Indian School of Business (ISB) and wanted to watch a new Tamil release, Thuppakki, in the theatre one weekend. Since the movie went out of cinemas in just one week, he ended up watching a pirated, poor quality version. This experience got him thinking of alternative legal online options which led to the launch of HeroTalkies.com.
Armed with market insights gathered from relatives outside India, Pradeep coined an apt name, HeroTalkies. Traditionally, the word ‘talkies’ was attached to many cinema halls in the country. The word still gives a feeling of nostalgia related to movies and invokes memories of walking into an old-time movie hall.
“Once the idea was finalised, we started searching for domains related to the movie industry. We tried creative combinations of words that describe our business, and we landed on HeroTalkies.com,” says the founder.Their first choice, HeroTalkies.com was available and was ideal because they were primarily targeting a global audience, i.e. NRIs (Non-Resident Indians).”
The startup was finally inaugurated on July 10, 2014, by director K. Balachandar and Thanu, and the first film online was ArimaNambi. HeroTalkies.com displays prominently on the home page: “We stream Tamil movies legally, in 1080p HD and 5.1 surround sound.”
The team started with the pay-per-view model, which didn’t take off very well. So it shifted to the subscription model fairly quickly, gaining good returns in the process.
Unfortunately, for movie lovers in the country, the service is not available here yet. Only customers outside the country can subscribe and enjoy the movies, many of which are not released in other countries, by paying USD 7.99 a month, or USD 79.99 a year, for unlimited access to the movie library.
Within four months of launching the subscription model, HeroTalkies.com amassed close to 4,500 customers, which was a whopping 300% increase in sales from across 36 countries, ranging from bigger markets such as the US, UK and Canada to small ones in Iraq, Chile and Nigeria. “We are happy we are leading the digital revolution in Tamil cinema,” says Pradeep.
HeroTalkies typically adds new movies within three to four weeks of their theatrical release, and aims to build the biggest online library for Tamil films, with more than 220 movies uploaded on the website so far. “We are bridging a major gap in the movie distribution chain by taking new movies directly to the homes of customers,” explains Pradeep.
For the CEO, the biggest competition is piracy sites, and he believes converting customers to using legal sites is important. HeroTalkies is, hence, striving to differentiate itself with its high-quality content. He says “customers who have experienced our quality have never gone back to low resolution pirated sites.”
The HeroTalkies team is upbeat about future growth, and has sound plans in the pipeline. With an upswing in customer base, investors from India as well as abroad are showing interest, and discussions are on for a seed round of investment from high net-worth individuals.
The Tamil industry is just the first step; the site will soon host movies in other southern languages and is targeting the close-to-three-million Indian families outside India.
Pradeep has words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs -launch your product quickly and test the assumptions. HeroTalkies has succeeded in moving a traditional industry to an online platform and provides viewing access to more people. Do you have a great idea? Put it into action, go global and go big with .com!
Register your .com at www.gobigwith.com