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News |  21 Apr 2014 19:55 |  By RnMTeam

Shotformats' Biscoot expected to grow by 150 per cent this year

Shotformats has created innovative digital platforms, which help content owners and developers to reach out to wide audiences. The company creates and deploys content utilisation solutions and applications on the digital platform for media houses, telecommunication firms, film companies, labels and content providers, among others.

When many established companies in the VAS industry were fighting to survive after the TRAI decision, Shotformats introduced a new brand ‘Biscoot’ and continues to innovate and grow in the space. It has also recently launched an offline app for the music of the film ‘Kaanchi – the unbreakable’.

Shotformats MD and CEO Niyati Shah lists down her aspiration for her company to’s Jescilia Karayamparambil.

What are the challenges of introducing new technology like the offline app?

At least with music labels like Sony Music or producers like Subhash Ghai, they are very forthcoming. They are open to experiment especially now because physical sales are dead and most of the revenue is from digital. Anything that is new and experimental in terms of digital distribution, companies are open to it, but they are not completely open to experimenting with pricing. In digital, there is lot of piracy and to kill piracy we need to price the content at a lower rate. The new ways of distribution are pretty comfortable.

What are the upcoming films that will have an offline music app?

We have tied up with all major music label companies so whichever new releases they have, we take it offline. In terms of forthcoming movies, we constantly keep buying rights as it is an on-going process. ‘Kaanchi’ is the recent one and then we have an offline app for ‘Purani Jeans’.

How has TRAI recommendation affected your businesses?

Last year was a horrible year for all the companies as they took a hit of almost 40 to 50 per cent. I think in a way it was good because there is a complete clean up that happened in the industry. The serious players have survived which is really good. It is a better environment now, as the best product will survive. Companies which invested in R&D are the companies that survived. We are a six year old company; we made a very late entrant in the space. For us from day one, there was no option but to innovate. It was not really difficult for us. The one thing that we are happy about is that now our product will be promoted better and accepted as the clutter is cleared up.

We had internally set our target to ensure that we do not end up sacking anyone. There was a lot of sacking that happened in many companies across the industry. We ensured that the company was stable and did enough business to sustain without asking anyone to leave. I was very happy about it.

Secondly, we had set targets internally on the VAS services. We might be the only company that ventured out into new space.

The first investment came from you for your company, but now you have Matrix Partners as a sole investor, what is your take on this?

It is such an ego boost having investors for the company. But I set my own parameters, every year we have a goal for ourselves. Things like this make us confident. That is the only way to excel in life. With Matrix Partners coming in as our investors, things are much smoother in terms of finance. We had lot of investors chasing us at that point of time. We decided to go with Matrix because besides investment they bring in lot of knowledge. It is more than just an investment.

Anything to do with investment is something that I allow them to drive, even though they keep me involved in everything. The reason we got Matrix is because they could structure the company, manage the financials and take things forward as I focus on the growth of the company. That is their job profile and it is my job profile. I let them do their job and I think they are fantastic.

We should be going into second round of funding in 2016-17.

Tell us more about ‘Biscoot’

‘Biscoot’ was launched in October 2013. It is an online and offline app store. Offline, we are already present across 2000 outlets in six or seven states and it is growing at a steady pace. The brand is accepted among all classes which is the reason we thought of the name Biscoot.

The reason to have a name like Biscoot (biscuit) was the content on mobile is the snacking content. I wanted something that could cut across all classes- a Biscoot is available in Mukesh Ambani’s home as well as slums like Dharavi. Biscoot is used by the MTV VJ’s in a slang way which is cool and by people in ,Gorakhpur. The term is common as well cool.

How are the Tier II and III cities doing?

It is a fabulous market for digital. There are a lot of media dark areas in India. Rural markets are financially doing well there, people have smartphones and they have time. Rural India is very simple unlike the challenges the urban space faces about the viewing of the content (urban population looks down on content which rural India enjoys viewing). In rural India, anything that is nice is shared. I think it is the best market.

How do you market you product in the space?

We have been doing lot of point of purchase and whole lot of retailer schemes. As I do not have Pan India presence, we cannot have lot of ADL advertising.

How many employees you plan to add?

Currently, we are 292 and considering that we are growing the team strength should go to 300-350. We are good with two offices in Delhi and Mumbai but we have sales force across India. As for office, I want to get my Delhi office to Mumbai.

What is the target set this year in terms of growth?

Growth for Shotformats was 100 per cent year-on-year. With Biscoot, we are looking at 150 per cent growth this year. The company’s vision is to be a digital distribution network, but it will take us five to six years to get there. When I say digital distribution network, I mean that any app developer or gamer can walk into Shotformats and say this is my product. This is the idea that we give you digital distribution.

By September, we should be at least 6000 retailers and by March, it should ramp up to 15, 000.