This dentist-turned-film producer is building a networking platform for creative professionals
It takes a village to bring creative work to life, and Shilpa Ramesh Ramani, who has produced regional films like Dev Son of Muddegowda (2012) and Fair & Lovely (2014), knows this very well.
A dentist by profession, Shilpa left behind her career and took a few years’ sabbatical, and started exploring her creative instincts in the film industry in 2011.
As she went on producing songs, commercials, and short films, Shilpa was concerned by the fact that many foley artists working behind the scenes with art directors get little to no recognition. “As the credits roll, the names of many people who are involved on the set are nowhere to be found,” she says.
Acting on a whim, Shilpa, along with her husband, created a network of creative people working in cinema, and started OnePage Spotlight in 2020. It is a professional networking platform for people engaged in creative endeavour to connect and collaborate with.
“While there are platforms like Facebook and Instagram, one needs to cut through a lot of noise to reach people in the creative and art field,” she tells HerStory.
Although Shilpa began working towards building the platform in 2018, the mobile application was launched just six months ago, and has attracted 12,000 registered users. This includes prominent personalities like US-based actress and Grammy award-winning singer Laura Dickenson and Senegalese singer Baaba Maal, among others.
How does it work?
Individuals can sign up on the platform and highlight their creative skills - ranging from traditional folk arts to video editing, martial arts, motion graphic design, make-up artistry, and other performing arts, and develop their professional portfolio.
In addition to Instagram-like features of making posts and following fellow artists, it has separate tabs to check hiring and project opportunities, showtimes for virtual events, including paid and unpaid live and recorded workshops.
With an in-app feature called Blue Store, one can buy and sell products, along with a wallet to keep track of all their project transactions, payments, rewards, and coins earned for various activities. Brands and organisations can also use the platform to connect with creators for marketing and other collaboration.
Still in its initial stages, Shilpa aims to accentuate the features further to build a full-fledged super app in the next one and a half years.
Navigating the market
The ease of access to the internet is driving most markets in India today and social networking is making the most of it. Although majorly dominated by global giants such as Facebook-owned products, LinkedIn, and Twitter, people’s appetite for virtual connection only seems to be growing with time, with over 400 million social media users in India in 2021, up from 376 million just last year, according to Statista.
OnePage Spotlight began monetising its platform through paid online sessions, advertisement, and partnerships only three weeks ago. Shilpa says it is too early to comment on revenue and other financials yet, but hopes to break even in three years.
However, having little experience in the technology field ended up being costly for the entrepreneur. Bootstrapped so far, Shilpa has invested Rs 5 crore in the venture.
However, the challenge lied in their inability to hire the right talent. Many techies came without fully understanding Shilpa’s vision for the app, “one that allows internet novices like traditional folk artists from remote areas to connect and collaborate with others with ease.”
“Everybody says they can create an app without realising the size of the project. We had a lot of people coming in with big promises and walking away mid-way,” Shilpa shares.
Speaking of long term goals, the entrepreneur has her eyes set on the global market. At the end of the day, she says it can fulfill needs of a global audience and that the team is working on including vernacular and foreign languages.