What could be a better time than a family trip, away from the rigors of daily life, to shape up a business idea? Over cups of steaming coffee, four cousins discovered that they shared a common dream- to start something on their own.
So, in late 2003, Rafeeq Mohammed, Kadhar Jahan Thoombath, Sherin Nazer Thoombath and Anas Ahmed launched web development company Digifour Technologies with one assembled computer in Kerala. The venture, unfortunately, was not in a good shape due to lack of funds and minimal customer traction, and therefore is inactive.
In 2005, Rafeeq (45) was working in a bank in Saudi where he noticed that banks were extensively using digital signage for various corporate communication activities. He then discussed the same with his cousins and decided to try this concept in India. They roped in US-based digital communication solution provider SCALA to sell their products in India. As a value-added reseller for SCALA, the quartet started their journey with a new office in a small IT Park in Kerala (close to Calicut).
They bagged the first project for installation of digital signage solution from Philips and TCS in 2006. Digital signage market in India was in a very nascent stage then, which gave them the opportunity to win the project for Hyderabad International airport. They executed the project through Siemens while HCL was their partner for screens. However, lack of credit arrangements left them in a dilemma on how to pay the vendors. They then put in their personal money to clear the payment. The project was completed in six months, and based on that experience, they obtained the Delhi airport project in 2007. They then moved to Bengaluru in 2010.
Fortune knocked on their door when US-based digital signage platform SCALA decided to open an office in India. Jahan, who brings 15 years of experience in IT/ITS in India and US, had moved into the R&D unit at SCALA. In 2011 February, they got into a joint venture deal and SCALA Digital Signage Solutions India was formed with 49 percent share.
Rafeeq quit his job in late 2011 and dedicated all his time to SCALA, India. The partnership went off well for the first three years. But with the reshuffling of top management in late 2014, differences arose between the partners on business priorities.
After rounds of hard discussions, we were provided with an option to buy our shares,” recalls Rafeeq, who has over 18 years of experience in strategic marketing and product development in BFSI in India and ME.
Blessing in disguise! The four of them grabbed the opportunity and bought their shares in August 2015. And in January this year, SCALA India was rechristened 'Nusyn Digital Solutions', funded by Rafeeq, Jahan and Sherin, who has 10 years of experience in IT/project management.
Nusyn delivers customer-centric solutions to segments like retail, healthcare, manufacturing, education, transportation and hospitality. For example, they offer digital menuboards to food retail joints that can be operated centrally.
It also offers customer engagement platforms, like Flight Information Display System (FIDS) integration, service history information at auto service rooms, Human Resource Management System (HRMS) integration at corporates, retail engagement using technologies like beacons, gesture and radio-frequency identification (RFID).
“Recent innovations such as large format touch screens, facial recognition technology and near field communication (NFC) further fuel the growth of this market. We are also planning to deliver our own WebOS solutions and roll out Android and Windows platforms for digital signage solutions,” says Jahan.
With more than 250 customers across verticals, Nusyn powers over 8,000 screens across the country. The client lists include names like Times OOH, PVR Cinemas, YUM and Delhi International Airport.
The company has three revenue models: one-time revenue from digital hardware and software sales; ongoing revenue in the form of asset management support; and revenue from content services, integration services and innovation services.
Witnessing a steady growth of 30-35 percent year on year, Bengaluru-based Nusyn in now a Rs 20-crore entity. Currently, it has more than 50 employees spread across India. In the next two years, it aims to grow by 50 percent year on year. Last year, they opened new offices in Mumbai and Noida. And this year, they would focus more on penetrating the Middle East, Europe and US markets.
Backed by technological advancements, the evolution of digital signage over the past decade has almost replaced the trend of static signage. India digital signage systems market is projected to reach $524 million by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 25.8 percent, according to Research and Markets report.
Xtreme Media (XM), 3M digital Signage, Wall Flower, Broadsign and cloud-based digital signage solution provider Pickcel are some of the players in this space.
Growing retail sector, urbanisation, surge in advertisement expenditure, better public and private infrastructure collectively attribute to the growth of digital signage market in India. From lifestyle brand to premium car maker, digital signage solutions helps companies promote products and services through interactive medium and reach customers effectively.