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The market opportunity is over $5billion for the segments we serve - Samir Bangara, MD, Qyuki

A digital broadcast network for youth, Qyuki was co-founded by Samir Bangara, the former MD of Disney UTV, in partnership with Shekhar Kapoor and AR Rahman. In 2012 Cisco Systems became a strategic investor by pumping Rs 27 crore in the social media platform. We learn about the unique ‘Business to Creator’ model, as Bangara spills the beans on this $5billion opportunity.

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What is the long term mission of Qyuki in a nutshell?

To build India’s first destination and platform agnostic media business with a digital DNA 

What is Qyuki's USP?

Qyuki is the only media company that is built by creators for creators. It is the reason that the model is differentiated with a clear approach of being a ‘Business to Creator’ (B2Cr) virtual platform vs. a Business to Consumer destination or platform.

At Qyuki analytics serve in the position of a ‘Creative Director’. We do not have an individual appointed as Creative Director per se because the whole notion is to open source creativity on a network and platform agnostic base - letting people decide what they want to create. As creators do this at scale (thousands of ideas bubbling across hundreds of creators) we use analytics to track which creators are breaking through with their content and back them with more firepower of production, marketing, PR and brand deals

The company was formed to bridge what gaps?

We believe the time has come for the emergence of digital superstars - talent that is homegrown on digital and then emanates to other traditional platforms. While platforms like YouTube and Facebook are fundamentally open without any gatekeepers ( as against traditional platforms like TV/Film and Radio) there is a lot of technology, PR and marketing support that talent requires in addition to the obvious production investments. We bridge the gap on all those fronts. We fundamentally build the business models around creativity. This extends to brand outreach and even end-to-end talent management as one of the verticals in the overall company structure. The market opportunity on an overall basis is upwards of $5billion for the segments we serve in India alone.

Qyuki is co-founded by you, AR Rahman and Shekhar Kapoor. What unique strength does each partner bring to the table?

I am a business guy who gets creators. My background is Venture Capital, Investment Banking, running a digital gaming business which we sold to Disney a few years ago before collaborating with Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman to do Qyuki. Shekhar and Rahman are the ‘super-algo’. They are the only people who are allowed to trump the algorithm to decide a creative direction because fundamentally their ability to detect potential supersedes analytics and AI. So it’s really a coming together of creative people with business folks - and that I think is a yin and yang missing very often because there is typically too much of one or the other. This ‘jugal-bandi’ has worked well for us so far and god-willing will continue to bear results.

What do you identify in an artist before signing him/her on?

We are excited about the emergence and scaling of digital superstars. Our general playbook to evaluate runs like this (a) does the talent have some track record online (b) if so what are the high level metrics of engagement - not views but engagement. Here is where we have some secret sauce formulas (c) what are the artist’s expectations of growth - do they meet what we believe is possible for us to achieve as a team? (d) will the artist’s content be relevant for brands and/or live/offline revenues.

Qyuki has collaborated with several event properties, what do you identify as the main objective for these associations?

It’s really important to highlight that we are building a cross platform media business with a digital DNA NOT just a digital media business. Had it been the latter the event properties would have been less relevant. We see our business as a funnel which starts on digital where we can discover what works and then once we have that figured the goal is to take the talent/content to traditional formats like TV or Film and Live. We already have several examples of each. The event properties that you refer to are a core part of the overall vision of the company.

You partnered with YouTube to launch Jammin'. How has been the response to that?

Jammin’ was a resounding success in its first Season in which YouTube was a core partner. The idea behind Jammin’ is an extension of our vision to break the mould of the gatekeepers across media and allow some of the biggest bollywood composers to collaborate with the biggest YouTube stars. In a very short span of time we had received over 20 million views and more than five lac hours of watchtime which was awesome!

How do you make offline experiences matter in an online world?

Offline and online are joined at the hip for many popular genres like Music and Comedy. The bigger an artist gets online the more money they can command in the offline world - it’s simple! This is very true for digital stars. Traditional media stars who become big in an offline world reap the scale online but only some are able to really translate it to something that is sustainable and relevant from a business standpoint. The digital native stars first build online and we help them leverage their offline revenues streams through brands/endorsements, gigs, appearances etc.


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