[TechSparks 2020] A year in social media is like 3 in other domains: Ranveer Allahbadia on being a content entrepreneur

As social media influencers go, Ranveer Allahbadia is a superstar. Speaking at TechSparks 2020, he reveals a thing or two about content entrepreneurship.
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He may as well be the SRK of YouTube. Ranveer Allahbadia sure knows the art of stretching his arms wide to embrace all that life has to offer.

But Ranveer prefers to call himself “the social media monster”, which — if you think about it — is not a long shot by far. His YouTube channel BeerBiceps is available both in Hindi and English, and today boasts more than five million subscribers. Another 1.1 million people follow him on Instagram. He also runs a digital media/entertainment company Monk Entertainment.

As social media influencers go, he is a superstar. Speaking at a fireside chat at the just concluded TechSparks 2020, Ranveer confesses that he would rather be known as an entrepreneur.

“I have always looked at myself as an entrepreneur. My goal in life is to create multiple organisations using the fame we have gained by being in the content space,” he says.

Having acted in a music video, Ranveer admits he has started getting acting offers, “but that’s not where I wish to be. I want to stay in the business world. It is much more stimulating and invigorating,” he adds.

Hailing from a family of doctors, where everyone’s a workaholic “but in a positive way,” Ranveer says he has learnt a lot from his parents. “I learnt about ambition and hard work from them.”

For Ranveer, 2020 has been “amazing in terms of professional growth,” he says.

“A year on social media is pretty much like three years in any domain because people put you on a pedestal and pull you off fast.”

Ranveer adds that it is thus important to put out stuff very fast to ensure one remains on the pedestal and “not only that you have to punch even harder to ensure you are placed on a higher pedestal every year.”

Here are a few excerpts from the conversation:

Trends in digital content consumption in COVID-19 times

  • The most successful kind of content is content that people find relatable. For example, for our Hindi channel, we used to produce content on fitness, grooming, fashion, communication skills. Now, of those four, we are focusing more on fitness because people were mostly at home and did not care as much for the other categories during the pandemic-led isolation.
  • As a creator, you have to be conscious of what your audience is going through and create content accordingly.

Knowing one’s audience is important

  • Because of Jio’s cheap data, it changed our game as content creators. You would think that only people like us watch English content. But it’s also the smart kids in villages who are watching. Consuming English content is aspirational for them. When you are creating English content in India, you have to live up to a certain degree of intellect, it has to be rich and stimulating. Days of research goes into it. Hindi content, on the other hand, has to be much more relatable, much more honest and genuine.
  • English content is extremely fast-paced. Hindi content has to be a little slow-paced. You’ve got to be conscious not to give too much information. Sometimes, it can become too heavy for that audience.
  • Everything from the design of the thumbnail, to the top picture selection for the video, to your personality — you have to cater to your audience.
  • You have to see it from a product and consumer experience point of view to really play a good game.

Challenges in scaling up business from a solopreneur

  • I am an engineering college grad like most entrepreneurs in the country. In college, you are told that if you do not do an MBA or an MS, your third option is a startup. It was pretty hardwired in me since the age of 18 and I spent my time in college not really studying engineering but studying startups and business.
  • The content game just happened. The goal was always to create businesses using the fame we would gain.
  • Not only business, but even to sustain your content, you need to keep reading, keep filling your head with new ideas, especially because fame isolates you. There is this glamour factor attached, which can easily get to your head.
  • With our digital marketing company Monk Entertainment, we do influencer management and talent management. But the goal going forward is to create clothing lines, working on edtech products and so on.
  • How we got to this point is all because of the team game. People see one guy, so they assume I am a one-man army. It is nothing like that. I am one out of 20 people in the team.
  • We hire very carefully, whether it is for content or business. One big lesson I have learnt is you have to cherry-pick the first 100 people. That is also a challenge as it involves a lot of time, energy, and effort.

Learning from the who’s who

  • The people I have interviewed — from Kunal Shah to Glenn Mcgrath, to Priyanka Chopra — all of them have this one thing in common. They say that it was a mistake when they put too much pressure on themselves when they were in their 20s. They said, in retrospect, they feel that they were going at the right pace and as long as you do some amount of work every day, that’s what actually matters.
  • I have this famous Chinese philosopher that I follow, Lao Tzu. He says, “Worry not about going slowly. Worry only about standing still.”

How to break through the noise and clutter?

  • The game is about consistency and quantity of content, especially at the start. Because you learn through making your own mistakes. If it’s a YouTube, you should be putting out at least two videos a week. If it’s Instagram, every second day one new content piece should be going out. The nature of this business is that you get immediate consumer feedback. You also get quantified feedback in terms of how well the post or video has done.
  • Use hate or trolling as a form of constructive criticism. You need to get used to that fast. It affected me probably for the first three to six months of doing this and I realised that it is the nature of the work, so I might as well fly with it.

Competitive landscape: rocky or rolling plains

  • I am going to reference Peter Thiel, he is a huge idol of mine. He said, always aim to create a product that will automatically create a monopoly for yourself. I feel as a content creator, you should play to your strengths and build a product only you are capable of creating. For instance, I combined both fitness and grooming in my content which no one was doing. Another way I was creating a monopoly was by producing content in both Hindi and English. It also gives you a first-mover advantage. I really don't have a sense of competition but I have a sense of collaboration.

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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