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Ample elbowroom for event startups: The case of Gigstart & Eventjini

As per a study conducted by Everything Experiential the size of the experiential marketing industry in India is pegged at a whopping 6250 Cr. The report also indicates that spend in 2016 towards on-ground engagement is an estimated 13.6% of the total ad spend, compared to 11.9% towards digital. Besides being a testimony that marketers are increasingly turning their attention to delivering experiences from an erstwhile mass media approach, the numbers also urge one to stop and take notice of the overall thriving environment of the event and experiential marketing industry at the moment.

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Planning and execution of an event, especially one of scale, is no easy task. There are too many variables involved. In this situation several startups have mushroomed to provide efficient solutions to an industry that’s cash rich and booming.

Gigstart

Delhi-based Gigstart was launched in 2013 by Atit Jain and Madhulika Pandey as a marketplace to facilitate quick and transparent connections between entertainers and event planners. One year into the launch they received funding in excess of $200,000 from investors including Indian Dream Capital (Mauritius), Rajesh Sawhney (GSF), Rohit Bansal and KunalBahl (Snapdeal), Narendra Singh Rawat (FG Wilson), TA Venture Holding Limited, Roshan Abbas and Anand Chandrasekaran. After two years of aggressively expanding its artist portfolio and building its technology, last month entertainment conglomerate Kwan acquired 85% stake in the company. Kwan with it’s wide portfolio of creative talent saw Gigstart as a natural fit to digitally reach out to consumers.

A big gap in the entertainment industry today is deemed to be the transparency of financial information, reliability in terms of delivery and some sort of public feedback mechanism. All three combined, it implies that there is no marketplace for talent today. Gigstart is the first marketplace for such a sector in India. Every single Kwan artist as well as talent from other agencies will be featured on Gigstart to do justice to the expanse of talent the agency hosts, said Anirban Blah, Founder and MD, Kwan.

Eventjini

As a software developer, Sandilya Venkatesh saw an opportunity in managing attendance, registrations and modifications for events. The beginnings of his company, Eventjini, were attempts to enable seamless registration at conferences. Siddharth Ganeriwala, founder of Chennai based experiential agency Aura Integrated Solutions, was among the few people who funded the company in its early years. “Investing in Eventjini was a strategic decision”, states Siddharth. “I always saw ticketing as a huge opportunity given the changing landscape of India and the increasing demand for entertainment. Eventjini came when the time was ripe”, he adds.

Sandilya used his software at events of friends and acquaintances and it worked very well. Soon people started approaching him and he began averaging sixty event partnerships per month. “Being part of Chennai Runners, a running group in my city, I offered to do their ticketing and registration for an upcoming race. The response was great”, says Sandilya. “Shortly after I approached Procam and after a six month pursuit they finally decided to give it a try. The association turned out to be a huge hit and Procam signed us for a 3-year contract”, he adds.

Procam International, India’s leading Sports Management Company and promoters of prestigious running events such as Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon and Airtel Delhi Half Marathon have recently acquired 26% in Eventjini.

Plugging the Gap

Successful start-ups are those that succeed in identifying an existing problem and deliver efficient solutions to the same, better and quicker than any one else. Both Gigstart and Eventjini qualified on these two counts. In the case of Gigstart it was a gradual realization when it’s founders started handling queries regarding venue and artists booking for their pet project Weekend Consultant. “We realized that the market was highly unorganized and majorly dominated by event planners. Also the money event planners were charging as middlemen didn’t seem to justify the work they were doing, so Gigstart came into being to fill this gap by directly connecting artists with clients”, says Founder Atit Jain.

Eventjini founder Sandilya adds, “When we started working with Procam we were expected to do bulk offline registration too along with online. This meant us taking the details of each participant and then manually feeding it into our system. We knew that a standardized process and consistent quality would be difficult to achieve. Moreover, the job was time consuming and not our strength as software developers. This posed as a serious challenge”. Sandilya set out to find an effective solution to this problem and soon came up with a plan, He explains, “We devised a scratch card system which produced a unique identification for participants registering offline. As a result participants could use the unique code and register themselves, taking a lengthy, expensive and inconsistent offline process online.”

Sandilya leaves us to chew on his concluding remark stating, “Before we came into the picture offline registrations were not seen as a problem, it was the only way to register groups and companies for the races. It was only when we identified the problem that people began seeing it as one”.

This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Oct. 31, 2016' with cover story titled 'THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR AWARDS 2016'


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