Ashish Hemrajani reveals BookMyShow’s playbook on staying the course to steer out of the storm
Ashish Hemrajani is no stranger to adversity, having survived the 1999 dot-com bubble burst. The Founder and CEO of Bigtree Entertainment Private Ltd, which owns and operates, believes in building forever companies.
In a fireside chat at TechSparks 2021, Ashish told Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, that the pandemic brought out the operator in him after 20 years, pushing him to take charge of business metrics and drive some hard decisions.
The company had to enforce pay cuts and resize its teams to survive the pandemic, which had a massive impact on the entertainment and live events industry.
“As far as our sector was concerned, and I speak for our sector and not just for myself, we were the first to be shut down and the last to open. There was no respite,” said Ashish.
This also led BookMyShow to re-evaluate its business and add other streams of revenue. The company launched its pay-per-view video-on-demand (TVOD) in February 2021, which lets consumers pay for each movie they watch.
With the global markets opening up, this will prove to be an important addition to BookMyShow’s core business of movie and event ticketing.
Changing with the times
“You have a flywheel and then you have other things,” said Ashish, adding that live events continue to be an important revenue and growth driver for BookMyShow.
Going by global trends, he anticipates pent-up demand in 2022-24 for the business. Ashish is witness to this first hand as he is scheduled to travel from LA to Seattle for an arena opening where British rock band Coldplay is playing.
With the addition of the TVOD business, BookMyShow is also looking at monetising the data of its premium customer base.
“We have a loyal and sticky customer base and we know about their payment modes, other details, and movie preferences. We are sitting on India’s 80-90 million customers on top and data monetisation is another piece, which is very integral to BookMyShow,” said Ashish.
However, he cautions against force-feeding things just because it makes for good market trends.
Surviving the pandemic
This is an upside for the company, which had to go through multiple rounds of pay cuts and resizing.
During the tough times, BookMyShow focused on doing right by its shareholders, employees, and the community, said Ashish.
“We needed to do the right thing by bringing down the cost of the company and rightsizing things, taking a long term view,” said Ashish. He added that the company extended medi-claim for employees who were let go for a period of a year after their termination.
It also set up an HR cell of four people helping these employees find alternate employment. BookMyShow also extended COVID-care through its BookMySmile.
As a CEO who has managed to steer his company through the eye of the storm, he advises entrepreneurs to watch the Apple TV+ series, Ted Lasso, for valuable lessons on the startup journey. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger is Ashish’s belief, who said that the pandemic will also bring out breakthrough companies that will survive the test of time.
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