As Amit recalls, he and his friends had hit the rock bottom of the week-end routine or the boredom. Just like the week-days, week-ends were no better. They too had become monotonous because of limited choice; or as Amit would say now, because of limited information about the possible choices of entertainment or week-end get-always. Most of the time the regular information that people get are through TV or Newspapers, which carry information about entertainment options that either appeal to select few or are just too costly to be affordable for week-end relaxation and leisure. These are usually the campaigns about celebrity events or performances like those by Jagajit Singh, UstadZakir Hussein, a Rajnikant or SRK movie release etc. Although there are many entertainment choices available to people in India, they do not have access to relevant information. Print, the medium largely used for such communication, too does not provide focused entertainment options to choose from, apart from the usual suspects like movie listings for example. Buzzintown was born with the idea of providing people rich information on all kinds of entertainment options, using all kinds of media available. We wanted to empower people with information and then let them decide how they wanted to spend their time, explains Amit.
Challenges faced in Start-up phase
Just like any other start-up, Amit also faced the challenge when it came to put the team in place. The challenges we faced were no different from what others face in starting traditional brick and mortar businesses. In my case, it started with structuring the name of the business to suit available domain names: in all formats – .com, .in, .co.in and this was very crucial to begin with. Hiring a bright set of people is always a challenge more so in a startup when you are selling a vision instead of a cushy brand. Getting the startup team right was critical as also the challenge of managing multiple hats at the same time, working out of subleased office spaces, trying to stretch the rupee to its extreme. The challenges of any startup are the same, and we are extremely lucky that our hard work has paid off, briefs Amit.
Business Model & Revenue Principles
Considering that they are a part of the entertainment industry and an online platform-based business model for the social networking and online savvy population, the revenue principles at Buzzintown is a fairly comprehensive set. According to Amit, “We offer a platform to the stakeholders of the industry, such as the artistes, the theatre groups, the venues, where they can showcase their offerings & their talent to millions of visitors. All general listings are free, but for special promotions or placements on spotlight areas, Buzzintown charges a fee.
We provide a media agnostic access mechanism to the web surfers, such as web, email, mobile (& print, OOH, TV via partners) of getting to it. They can also buy heavily discounted deals and theatre tickets online from the convenience of their homes. This helps our partners with confirmed revenues, e.g., restaurants with new footfalls which can be converted to repeat customers & show organizers who get ticket sales even before the show starts (instead of box office collections alone). We provide a platform to advertisers also to reach their target audience a vibrant set of people who are breaking away from the usual, who can buy online and who have discerning tastes.”
Keeping abreast with the competition
The content at Buzzintown is not only user generated but also sourced from all stakeholders in the entertainment industry, i.e. event managers, artists, venue owners, theatre groups, production companies and so on. Their users now have thousands of different entertainment options to choose from theatre & art, children’s workshops, movies, food & dining, even unique travel destinations. No one today has the singular focus on becoming a wholesome entertainment hub as much as Buzzintown. An external audience does take Bookmyshow, Asklaila and Burrp in the same league as Buzzintown we feel each of them has their strengths. Buzzintown focuses on dynamic content, not just ticketed shows or static local business information, specifies Amit.
With the introduction of Buzzin Deals (http://deals.buzzintown.com) Buzzintown has made a natural progression in its quest to offer the best in entertainment, lifestyle and leisure to its audience. Our audience was visiting Buzzintown.com, checking out events, restaurants, movies, pubs, and week-end travel schedules but were spending their monies offline. Buzzin Deals allows them to get heavily discounted offers on the most premium services.We are that ONE source that answers your What to do? question, observes Amit.
The first big success
Success is relative. Judging the first big success with a start-up can be challenging. Every step made forward towards the mission is a success by itself. After the successful release in 2008, Buzzintown expanded rapidly to 19 cities in India. They have recently launched heavily discounted deals & offers for their growing audience. The website added 16 more cities across US & Canada to tap the growing non-resident and ethnic Indian community which are always looking for Indian entertainment options available to them.
Should we term our funding from Intel Capital, during the midst of the economic downturn, our greatest achievement? Or would that be the natural outcome of our growing traffic (2.5 million registered users, 10 million views of our content monthly) which should be our greatest achievement since we did it without spending on marketing or advertising? Or should it clearly be the quality of our content that has helped Buzzintown to transform itself from being a plain vanilla event listing company to an entertainment hub, which I hope is the first of many milestones for us! Frankly, I don’t know which is the greatest? highlights Amit.
According to Amit, We are na entertainment, lifestyle & leisure portal. We plan to expand geographically in India as well as other countries of the world. Buzzintown has to be the de-facto destination to get your fill on what’s happening in and around town, where everyone can find something interesting to buy or to do. Buzzintown will continue to present information, discounts & deals, reviews, video footage and the best answer to your â€œWhat Should I Do Today? question! We are when LOCAL MEETS SOCIAL!
Amitabh has over 18 years of experience in the software industry, having worked with TCS, Philips, NASA, HP& TriVium before launching Buzzintown. He is passionate about delivering innovative solutions to consumers based on contemporary and future technologies – whether CRM, Virtual Networking, Compiler Design or Web Interfaces.Amitabh has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has published technical papers & books on software engineering and distributed systems.
|About Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi|