Sunday, May 15, 2011

of things gone by

On 31 Octoner 2006, in a moment of madness, I resigned from the small digital agency I was help run in Mumbai, with it I said goodbye to a stable income, peace of mind and sanity. Two guys who knew me wanted to make TV serials and were looking at raising money. Over bottles of beer, in a cramped room at the Hotel Savera, the two half drunk gentlemen went on about making entertainment. Youtube had just got funded and there were a rash of 'tube' clones that had sprouted up.  The more I heard the two of them speak, the more it made sense to me that we must create content for the net.

nautanki.tv was doomed from the start, it was trying to do things that no one else had done. It was not youtube, it was a made for internet entertainment channel that aggregated / made / bought content. It was a network of content pieces which was layered with an ad network. A social network which allowed its users to create playlists, share the playlist and run channels of their own. It was the first to get a sponsored show (Metro Shoes sponsored their Spring Summer collection videos), it was the first to be paid to be a platform (SaharaOne paid money to use the platform to live stream their awards ceremony). 38 TV channels partnered with it, over 300 short films were showcased, 5 internet only channels, 60 hours of content created everyday by a team of 45. It was mad, it was fun, it was insane. The team raised close to 7 crores in funding, had some of the brightest investors and was acquired by a rockstar of new media economy.

And yet it failed.

Last week several people told me that it was too early for its time, it was ahead of the curve. Old friend Amit Grover who now runs a mentoring outfit for startups said it when he told me that sometimes, it is better that something does not work, it plants the seeds of something big. The mistakes we make (expensive ones at that) are the ones that fuel the new ideas.

I tried again with a refined model, something that factored in 4G and the surge in wired entertainment and multiscreen alternate broadcast in 2010. It got 2 investments, one I said no to, and the second decided that I was too much of a risk. They bought the business, I gave up trying to convince people of things that they cannot see.

So on the other side of the year, the cycle completes. We never grow old, ideas never go old. Here is to that spirit and to a whole new experiment. This time I will make it make money for someone atleast. if not me ;)

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