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[Startup of the day] 2 chartered accountants shed their finance background to start a content creation platform for companies and individuals

Sindhu Kashyaap
1st Aug 2016
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Every organisation has a story to tell. While for some the process of articulating it is easy, for others their narrative may be fraught with hardships and challenges. Many have the misconception that the art of storytelling for a company lies with the marketing team. But what they fail to realise is that the organisation's or even an individual’s story needs to be reinforced internally whenever the opportunity arises.

This is where a company like Ahsomeness comes into the picture. A creative enterprise, Ahsomeness helps transform a thought, emotion, or communication into a storybased narrative, presented in a blend of films or videos.

The beginnings

While the thought behind Ahsomeness was born towards the end of 2014, the creative enterprise came to be in early 2015. It all started when chartered accountants Ashish Chawla and Shivani Kaul, while working at KPMG, were approached by their colleague for help in creating a unique gift for his daughter that she would cherish for a lifetime. Ashish and Shivani, along with the parents, then put their heads together and figured out a beautiful narrative that depicts the daughter's life, which became a hit with anyone who saw it.

Ahsomeness
Ashish Chawla (L) and Shivani Kaul (R)

After their respective stints at KPMG, the two moved onto roles in other companies — Ashish worked with GE before becoming a part of the core team of one of India’s first few funded e-commerce companies, while Shivani worked with WNS Accenture, before becoming the Content Head for Aspire — before revisiting their earlier project. Hence, after more than 13 years in the corporate finance world, Ashish (35) and Shivani (35) chose to finally pursue their professional dream of creating content based on moments, and built Ahsomeness.

The ah! moments

The team works with varied audiences – from billion-dollar corporates to startups, event management companies, wedding planners, kids and their parents, to schools, individuals and social groups.

“‘Ahsomeness’ is a belief that a thought or an emotion that comes from an honest mind carries a ‘hero’ in it which has the power to create an ‘Ah!’ moment for the creator of the thought, its user, the general audience and perhaps the world at large,” notes Ashish. This would help craft a new product, an ethical or even a brand value.

 The business of creativity

The core idea of Ahsomeness is bringing in quality in primary execution, visualisation, music and writing. Apart from Ashish and Shivani, who are the startup's creative heads, the team comprises of a strong and vastly experienced set of writers, illustrators, animators, videographers, video editors, musicians and sound engineers.

Ahsomeness has worked with brands like Canon, Goibibo, Viom Networks, Max Insurance, IndiHire, Pearl Academy and GSK to name a few.

The makings

The team first gets a brief from the client. Based on the key takeaways to be presented, the team designs a creative script, including a story, poem and lyrics, which reveal the most telling aspects behind a thought or a message an individual or a company is wishing to get across.

Then the team brainstorms on the best way to depict the concept. This involves a combination of animation, live shoots and still shots depending on the requirement.

Simultaneously, the team comes up with original music to create an emphatic emotional connect with the audiences, while striving to keep the commercial aspects of a business at bay.

“As a result, the core message of our adverts, videos, animation and jingles have a lasting appeal in the minds of the audiences,” says Ashish.

The challenge of explaining creativity

The team initially found it a challenge to explain the massive amount of creative work that goes into crafting a narrative, be it is using original music written specifically for a particular idea, or using a uniquely designed storyline and innovative visuals to establish the right connect with the audiences.

“That apart, we had to surpass tons of big fish in the market,” adds Ashish.

Changing the status quo

However, he notes that it is difficult to find a professionally organised agency such like theirs, which makes music-based video content available to corporate, event companies and to end B2C segment (individuals, schools, social groups, kids and parents) directly.

Mostly, musicians function separately. Even video and animation production houses are different from the creative agency. Ahsomeness, on the other hand, is one-stop shop as far as core idea generation, script and lyric writing, music composition and video visualisation and direction are concerned.

The team plans to beef up its marketing efforts by targeting more corporates. It also intends to build a stronger sales and business development team to get larger reach.

While the team refused to share its revenue details, it claims to be cash-flow positive. For the corporate clients, the startup charges on a project-to-project basis of an approximate cost of Rs 2 lakh per project, the team also works on television commercials for which they charge approximately Rs 50 lakh and the individual client projects are priced at anywhere between Rs 50,000 and 70,000.

“Ahsomeness plans to foray aggressively into schools and intends to make learning voluntary, enjoyable and awesome using a blend of story-telling, music and creative visuals,” says Ashish.

Market

The market for video content and advertising is fast growing. There are several advertising agencies and a dime a dozen digital agencies that take up and create videos for internal communication or marketing. The individual clients is another market, where, in many cases, people prefer using help from family and friends.

A report by Cisco suggests that by 2017 over 70 percent of the world’s mobile Internet traffic will be made of videos. In the Indian context by 2017, the country’s video traffic is expected to touch 1.8 exabytes per month. Thus making it close to 66 percent of all IP traffic of that year. Online video reach today is about 100-120 million from platforms like YouTube.

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