Fans absolutely love interacting directly with their object of interest or engaging with fellow fans. This could be for anything – pulp fiction, comic, movie, book and sports.
However, unlike the west, fan engagement as an industry in India is yet to pick up. To bridge this gap, brothers Anand Ramachandran and Aravind Ramachandra along with Vivek Venugopalan, built a fan relationship management platform – Fantain based out of Bengaluru and Chennai in 2012.
Fantain works as a CRM base for sports teams, music labels, movie houses and events. “We help our customers use fan information to improve revenue, increase profitability and engage deeper with fans,” says 43-year-old Anand.
Being passionate about sports and having worked in Fortune 100 companies, and with deep tech knowledge, the trio felt there was need for technology to solve the problem of fan engagement.
The co-founders felt that it was critical to build a company that focussed on listening intently to the customer and made rapid changes accordingly. Anand explains,
We tried multiple ideas (think pivots) around fan engagement and fan analytics. Everything we have tried has taught us valuable lessons that we are incorporating in our future products. We believe we have a good understanding of the market now, but have to learn the lessons of scaling the business in the Indian context.
BookMyShow took a majority stake in Fantain in February this year. The platform offers a range of services to its customers including fan engagement, fan analytics and fan activation. In engagement, they offer strategy and tools for engaging fans on social media and digital assets.
In analytics, they pull all relevant fan data from social, digital, ticketing, turnstile, third party and unstructured data sources and provide valuable insights on engagement levels, monetisation opportunities and sponsorship value. In activation, they deploy tools to get the fans to do what they want them to do – buy t-shirts, tickets, follow social, etc.
Anand and Vivek worked together at Wipro, where Anand was the head IT Sales, and Vivek was the head of technology, and has a natural inclination to build tech products. Aravind on the other hand is a serial entrepreneur, and has started three startups in US.
However, building the initial core group of employees who believed in the idea was more difficult than grouping the founding team. “We have done it by hiring the best. We now believe we have a world-class team that positions us well for the future,” adds Anand.
Fantain’s clients include Kolkata Knight Riders, Red Chilli Entertainment, SunRisers Hyderabad and Sony Music among others. The team also claims to be working on a mobile app, which is expected to be launched next month. The app’s primary customer base will also include brands, celebrities, sport leagues, associations, boards and forums.
The aim is to make Fantain a one-stop destination of marketing engagement, brand awareness and brand-building activities.
“At present, we have a standard pricing model across the board. So say a new customer is added, the incoming revenue as well as the addition of customer is same in terms of percentage points. Our growth rates for the last two years in terms of customer acquisition is over 100 percent,” claims Anand.
In a YourStory article, it is reported that over 300 million tuned in to watch the 2015 World Cup Cricket semi-final between India and Australia. The opening week of the ISL- India’s Football League 2014 got close to 170 million views.
Today, there are a growing number of startups that are dedicated to sports and building a sporting community – Athletto, Playo, Smaash, Dreamsfield, PlayArena, XLR8, SportsCafe and PlayNLive to name a few.
Apart from sports, Fantain is also focussed on the entire gamut of marketing for brands and other avenues. Anand adds that they have been harnessing data to aggregate views of fan behaviour.
This, he adds, gives them some unique insights about fans in demographic and psychographic profiles that are immensely valuable to brands.
“Any new entrant will require a similar period of time before they can be effective in this space. We have invested immense time, effort and money to build an infrastructure that captures and harvests fan data. We use this information in all the solutions we build for our customers,” says Anand.
The team is working towards transforming the way sports and entertainment businesses are conducted in India.