How BookMyShow survived the dotcom boom, bust, and the winter
BookMyShow and its founder Ashish Hemrajani need no introduction. The company is believed to have sold an average of 7.8 million tickets per month in financial year 2015-16. BookMyShow also recorded a revenue rise from Rs 130 crore to Rs 248 crore in the financial year.
However, the journey wasn't simple. At TechSparks 2016, Ashish said:
"I was invested in by NewsCorp in 2001, and by 2002 we were hit by the dotcom bust. I went from 150 people to six, and moved from a 2,500 sqft office to a 138 sqft apartment in Bandra. And that is when the hockey stick growth happened."
It was then that the team decided to work on building the ecosystem. They installed ticketing softwares and began running call centres and white label services with different events. "You can find simple answers to complex problems by using your common sense," adds Ashish.
Working with available resources
The team decided to build a robust CRM system and track glitches. During the late '90s and early 2000s, there was no GPS, satellite and cellphone communication systems, cameras or smartphones. Whenever someone said they didn't receive a ticket, the team would take a description of the door and let the consumer know if they had been there or not.
Citing another anecdote, Ashish gave the example of a man who he chose to call Mr Khanna. Every time he got four movie tickets he would have them delivered at his home, but tickets for a sleazy movie he would get delivered at his office. "If you have an analytical layer on top of it, you could safely assume Khanna was having an affair," says Ashish.
There also was a customer who would snatch every fourth ticket and slam the door. This meant that BookMyShow had to whitelist and blacklist customers. "This is how we built our CRM systems in a time when there wasn't any big data," says Ashish.
Touching the next crash
However, the team hit the next bust in 2007. It was then that Ashish decided to make a slump sale of his company. But he went back, negotiated, and bought back the company from NewsCorp. He owned 100 percent of it at one time.
The team soon received further funding and hasn't looked back since then. Giving us a few numbers, Ashish says:
"BookMyShow has 1,500 employees, is present in 370 cities and towns, we are present in four geographies. We probably are one of the top three e-commerce brands in the country. By volume, we sell 12 to 15 million tickets in a month and have 100 million visits. We have three billion page views and we did Rs 2,500 crore GMV last year."
Ashish believes that the growth of BookMyShow isn't based on these metrics. Instead, it is all due to the consistent focus on building their CRM systems and the ecosystem.