How this Youtuber, model, and anchor decided to launch a global video production platform
Sometimes, all it takes to find your passion is to connect the dots. This is what Lakshmi Rebecca did to dream big, and run a million-dollar startup,. Lakshmi tried her hands at YouTube, , writing, documentaries and social work, only to discover the behind-the-scenes chaos in video production industry. The chaos, though, led to a eureka moment - the idea to start Red Bangle, a cloud video production platform which provides end-to-end video production capabilities across formats and on-demand video crews across the world.
Started in January 2017 by Lakshmi Rebecca and Sunil Patrapati, Bengaluru-based Red Bangle is a SaaS platform which combines video collaboration and project management technologies with a curated network of global filmmakers and strategic on-ground studios. In three years, the company has clocked million-dollar revenue and is a profitable entity.
The turning point
In 1998, Lakshmi dropped out of in the middle of her degree course at Stella Maris in Chennai to figure out her calling. Dabbling in social work for some time, she moved on to do other things. “I was at one point a researcher, contributing to documentaries for BBC and Discovery. Then for some time, I became an investigative journalist and worked in India, UK, and SriLanka, then I became a model, and then anchor,” says Lakshmi.
She adds that she went abroad to study international marketing in 2008, and worked for a very short time before returning to India, when she realised the common thread to connecting all that she has been doing through the years - content and storytelling.
Once back in India, she started her YouTube channel in 2011 called The Lakshmi Rebecca Show, but as that did not make much money, Lakshmi started creating content for others and worked as both a Youtuber and a production house. “After five years of doing this, I thought why not dream something big.”
“The whole video production industry was a lot like how the cab market used to be before Ola and Uber launched in India. In the video industry, every company or enterprise needs some kind of video, and we realised how collaborative this industry can be. So I decided to set up a platform to organise the video production segment, and started hunting for co-founders,” she says.
Lakshmi roped in her old friend Sunil. “Sunil had a cushy corporate job, and was leading quite a settled life in Chennai with family. I never imagined he would leave such a comfortable life to take on this responsibility,” she remarks. Sunil is the CTO of the company and takes care of technology.
The idea began with a platform, and also included a crew vetted by Red Bangle. It then developed into a full stack SaaS solution which offers a complete managed service, with a strong technology foundation.
"The simplest way to put it is - you can get any type of video made anywhere in the world over a cloud without hiring a crew" says Lakshmi.
“We bring together experienced filmmakers and creative folks from across the world, and organise them into crews,” she adds. The company’s curated network of filmmakers is spread across India, USA, UK, Europe, Africa, South East Asia, Australia, the Middle East and more. Red Bangle has a team of 23 people including the co-founders, and has about 800 collaborators across the globe.
Explaining the model, Lakshmi says, when a client logs into the platform and creates a brief, Red Bangle takes over from there. The company organises the shoot, creates entire shoot briefs such as security clearances, insurance papers, approvals, lighting and framing details etc. “We have technical guidelines for these, then the shoot happens, footage gets uploaded to the platform, and is finally delivered to the client. It is sometimes edited and sometimes raw, as per the client’s demand,” Lakshmi explains.
The Business picture
The startup’s turnover is to the tune of $ 1 million, and it also turned profitable in the same year it was launched. Some of its clients include Indeed, Microsoft, , Sequoia, SPAR Hypermarket, Vymo, Capillary Technologies, , , RMZ and Groupon .
In 2019, the company did 85 end-to-end videos and 47 shoots. This year, it has delivered over 120 videos, and 30 more in this quarter's pipeline. “The number of shoots have dropped to seven this year, because of the pandemic,” tells Lakshmi.
Funding and Future Plans
The platform has attracted investors such as Mukesh Bansal, founder of Myntra, and Sunita Maheshwari, co-founder of Teleradiology Solution. Lakshmi says, the company is working on scale, team, tech, and milestones before going for the next round of funding.
Lakshmi says they are aiming to double the revenue by strengthening its marketing and sales. Adding photography to its services is also on the plan. Lakshmi concludes that, “we are not doing anything new over there, we're just making our industry a lot more efficient.”