It was the year 2002, the time of Nokia 3310, when digital video content was just catching fire. Gurpreet Singh Bhasin, who then was a first-year engineering student was fascinated by the whole idea. This fascination led him to launching mobile B2C content portal Funtooz. Operating out of Chandigarh, it would go on to create black and white picture images, and monophonic ringtones for 3310.
Today, Mumbai-based, One Digital Entertainment is incorporated out of Singapore is a network of digital video and content creators, whose co-founder and COO Gurpreet has worked with the likes of UTV New Media, Hungama Du in Dubai and Viacom 18, where he witnessed the evolution of the mobile and online content industry. He says:
Being a music fanatic, I got a chance to meet a lot of talented musicians and noticed that they did not have any other platform to showcase their music apart from Bollywood while on the other side lot of musicians and singers in the West were embracing YouTube.
This was when he along with his friend Shabir Momin, who was a video creator, decided to create One Digital Entertainment set up three years back for musicians and content creators.
Building for all content creators
The team claims to have partnered with over 2,200 channels and content creators and has over 25 billion minutes of content consumed on its network.
The platform seeks, scouts for, identifies and nurtures talent from across different entertainment genres, collaborates with them and lends them logistical and creative support they need to build their portfolios through the online medium.
One Digital Entertainment works along various genres such as music, food, comedy, Bollywood, fashion, beauty, youth fiction, and lifestyle. Some of the celebrities on their platform include Badshah, Raftaar, Sanjeev Kapoor, Rocky S, Prajakta Koli, Kapil Sharma, Ranveer Brar, Anubhav Sinha, Kolkata Knight Riders, Viacom 18 Motion Picture, Fever FM, Ajay Devgn, Suneil Shetty, Tiger Shroff, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Armaan Malik.
The idea, Gurpreet adds, is to provide a platform to all digital video creators, big or small, across the country. A great challenge was in creating and spreading awareness about the strength and reach of digital video platforms and encouraging creators to embrace these digital destinations.
A strong core team
On the importance of content creators, Gurpreet explains:
We were fortunate enough to have a large set of mainstream creators believe in us right from the outset and allow us to demonstrate the strength of the digital world which, in turn, has helped us churn out successful case studies with them, setting examples for others to come join this ever-evolving, self-sustaining digital content ecosystem that we are sure is only going to grow with time.
When Shabir and Gurpreet decided to build One Digital, they got in their first hires from references and those they had already worked with, ex-colleagues who had faith in the business model that they were building and agreed to help them.
One Digital Entertainment comprises of a team of over 35 young professionals, driven by the single-minded focus of revolutionising the digital entertainment landscape of the country.
Gurpreet says that the core team involves people having knowledge and experience in TV channels, media houses, radio stations, record labels, social media agencies, digital and production houses to fresh hires as well.
Breaking through different players
Bootstrapped and profitable, Gurpreet says the company has seen a 2X growth in the past two years. Following a profit-sharing model, One Digital builds the artistes' digital presence and portfolios together.
However, the world of digital content creation and aggregation platforms is fast growing. A popular name being Culture Machine, backed by Zodius Capital and Tiger Global, which uses proprietary technology - Intelligence Machine, to crawl through online videos, index them, and gather details based on viewer preferences.
Others include Nirvana Digital, which has an assortment of 200 YouTube channels and over 50,000 videos and distributes its content to video platforms like Hulu, Amazon VOD, and Apple’s iTunes mobile apps and devices.
Qyuki is YouTube certified and backed by stalwarts like Shekhar Kapur, AR Rahman, and Samir Bangara. Ping Digital is one of India’s largest food networks with over 1,000 food videos. #fame, previously Famebox, raised its second round of funding of $10 million in January 2015 from existing investor and stakeholder digital media firm To The New Ventures (TTN Ventures). The firm had previously secured $3 million from TTN in a seed round.
One Digital believes that it is unique in its focus on building a strong online brand by handpicking and grooming talent. Gurmeet adds that their technology and support teams work relentlessly to keep a close tab on developments in the digital sector, translate them into useful insights for their creators and continually help them optimise returns from original content.
They are also launching a self-service platform that empowers creators to shoot, edit and publish content on multiple distribution platforms seamlessly via a single-access system. This not only tracks their reports and revenues from across the board but also provides them with data about their online presence. Thus helping them strive to put out better content that resonates well with their current audience pool and also attracts new audience bases.
“We also plan to work more closely with brands across the board and retrofit our original programming for them across our entire bouquet of genres,” says Gurpreet.