The day is not far, when the question, “Tell us about your struggle period,” becomes irrelevant and obsolete in an artist’s interview.
The internet has been responsible for widening the net for various businesses – connecting worthy products and services to willing customers, and fostering mutual benefits. There was no reason, then, for artists to undergo the grind or the infamous “struggle” period the old-fashioned way, and run from pillar to post pleading sponsors, producers, and finding worthy audiences for their immense talent. Thus, these online software-based startups stepped in, became the wind beneath the wings of artists, to bridge the gap, dissolve geographical and communicational barriers, and help talent from all spheres – be it music, the performing arts, fashion or content –showcase their body of work, and get their due.
Ex-Northwestern University and University of Chicago Booth School of Business biomedical Engineerand MBA Shekhar Purohit spent 16 years as a strategy and human capital consultantin various industries, right from media and entertainment to finance. He teaches part-time at the Director’s College at Stanford University.
Convinced that India is a powerhouse of talent in music, acting, and modelling, Shekhar mused, “If a star is born by simply being in the right place at the right time and getting spotted by a casting director or an industry professional at a coffee shop in Andheri, then why can’t they be spotted while living anywhere in the world at the touch of a button?”
The way he decided to bring the “next talent” forward from unusual places was through,‘Talent Next’, an online platform that connects artists like actors, models, dancers, musicians, voiceover artists,etc., to the casting community for all sorts of gigs like films, televisions shows, commercial ad films, digital content and web series, live events, theatre, etc. Casting professionals list an audition or job, browse through talents profiles online, and manage applications. Signing up for a basic profile is free of cost for both parties, and for a small monthly fee, they can upgrade to a tiered membership model that allows for unlimited access to casting opportunities, a higher spot on the “trending” or “verified” profiles list, and additional storage for photos, videos, and audio files to the profile.
“In fact, other firms outside our industry have approached us asking if we can white-label our product for their internal recruiting process,” says Shekhar.
Since their launch in July, they have garnered approximately 20,000 members and 1,000 jobs on their platform, with a database of another 65,000 that need to be verified and uploaded. They register approximately 50 net new casting opportunities a day. They will be launching three additional offices in India in the first quarter of 2017, and have set the ball rolling with potential partners in Canada, US, UK, Middle East, and Australia.
The founder trio constitutes Nandini Mansinghka (an ex-investment banker and board member at Mumbai Angels), Rohit Sobti (a media professional who last worked in licensing and syndication at Yash Raj Films), and Deepak Bali (who also comes with over 15 of experience in Media and entertainment, and headed Eros Music before his plunge).
Their parent company, The Booster Network, ran another business called Idyabooster, which brings together investors to invest in content Intellectual Property like films, TV Series, Web Series, Music Festivals, etc. In 2014, during the process of selling their first property, a horror fantasy film called Ludo, Nandini had gone to Cannes to the annual content market called MIPTV. Standing in the huge market with some 10,000 attendees, 2,000 stalls each trying to sell some 500 pieces of content suddenly made her realise how broken the current system is and how this needs to be solved through technology. This gave rise to the idea of creating a 24*7 content market, where anyone can upload their content to reach out to a large number of potential buyers.
Digibooster was that 24*7 solution - a B2B marketplace for content owners to showcase finished video content, which is neatly divided into different categories, genres, languages, to be sold and monetised through a diverse set of buyers- digital, TV, airlines, hotels, cable, etc., across geographies and continents.
Buyers also get a curated content basket to choose from. They can then choose to deal directly with the content owners, or through Digibooster, which can partner with them as a single point of contact. “Our main USP is the technology driven cataloging and showcasing platform for sellers and the curated, process driven and transparent sales process for buyers. Both are gaping holes we are filling in the industry,” says Nandini.
They make money through the cataloging and marketing fee collected from sellers, and the commission on sales in transactions. So far, the portal has over 5,000 industry professionals both in India and overseas, and has recorded a reach across 20 countries in five continents. There are 150 projects in library currently, and 1,000 in the pipeline.
Thirty-four-year-old Amit Bhardwaj,Founder and COO, has a background in business and product management from Tata Teleservices. Nikhil Hegde, his co-founder and CEO, is 33 with a consulting background across KPMG and other Indian telecom majors. While Amit and Nikhil were working on a professional networking concept for a startup pitch at the University of Leeds, they met a few fashion professionals and discovered the networking barriers they experience. Thus, centred on the “six degrees of separation” theory, the duo birthed 6Degree - a
“Fashion Talent & Tech Platform” that helps fashion professionals connect with the right individuals/organisations and partners to further build their brand and business growth.
6Degree houses a fashion week showcase, fashion brand consulting, and fashion enterprise solutions. Working on a revenue-share model with their partners and customers. Of the last financial year, we were operating at an average of 20‑40 percent operating margin and expect it to increase by another five percent for the current financial year.
We also offer custom packages and subscription models to our clients who opt for fashion services.
6Degree is betting high on their B2B application for Fashion Weeks and organisers, since organising a Fashion Week takes a minimum of three months and a lot of coordination between multiple teams. “During a Fashion Week, we see thousands of visitors in shows which give us immense opportunity to bring in technology to have better coordination, planning, and guest management,” explains Amit. For them, the customers are fashion weeks, and this year, as a Talent partner at Lakme Fashion Week, they brought in designers from their network.
Clocking Rs1.1 crore in revenue in their first year, the numbers climbed to Rs1.4 crore in the next, and the expected growth for this fiscal is close to Rs4 crore.
Operating in a market which is more than 1.5 trillion dollars in size with more than 700 fashion weeks globally, they wish to launch a SaaS-based mobile platform for fashion professionals, to select from different services packages. They are hoping to increase their client base from 2,100 professionals to 5,000.
Being a faithful patron, proponent, creator, and consumer of music, Radhika Mukherji, a former pilot, devoted mother of two sons, and wife of Bollywood pop-sensation Shaan, decided to “give back to the music community” by helping struggling artists find more gigs to bring their brimming talent to consequence, and get their due. To do so, her company, Happydemic, built a model that takes full charge of the ‘live performance’ slot of any event, corporate or personal, and deploys suitable artists from the ones registered on their platform, besides taking care of the sound and lighting for the performance.
The artist also gets a full suite of services like state-of-the-art studios and equipment to practise on, vocal training, lessons in various instruments, etc. Happydemic is just a little over a year old, and has already clocked Rs 1 crore in revenue, and is sitting on leads that will help bring in their next Rs 1.5 crore before the close of the fiscal year.