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AR Rahman, Shekhar Kapur & Samir Bangara's Startup Qyuki Aims at 10x Revenues In Next 3 Years

Digital spends at 10k crore today are growing at 30-35% compounded annually to 20k+ crore in 3 years which may increase further when we reach the tipping point of actually shifting other media format budgets to digital.

Qyuki is a cross-platform media network across digital, live, TV and film founded by AR Rahman, Samir Bangara and Shekhar Kapur. Recently, in association with YouTube, Qyuki launched Jammin- India’s largest digital musical property, where legendary Bollywood composers and India's top internet youth icons collaborate to create original tracks. Fronted by legendary composer and maestro AR Rahman, Bollywood biggies such as Salim Sulaiman, Clinton Cerejo and Mithoon team up with digital stars SANAM, Shraddha Sharma, Maati Bani and others

In a recent ranking by YouTube India, Qyuki had two of the top 3 fastest growing channels in the country while on Facebook, its' managed talent FunkYou grew over 1500x to 8 MILLION fans in one year. Qyuki prides itself in being a creator focused company with SANAM Band, Funk You, Shraddha Sharma, Motorbeam, and Powerdrift being some of the largest digital brands managed by Qyuki. The Company's Agency business has also executed some of the largest branded content projects with clients like Coca-Cola, Olx, VW, Mercedes-Benz, Colgate, Moneycontrol amongst others.

BWDisrupt's Soumya Gupta interacted with Samir Bangara, MD, Qyuki to know in-depth about the plans they have for the digital broadcast venture:-

Edited Excerpts-

Tell us about your journey, how you three came together to build Qyuki?

In mid 2013 Shekhar Kapur, AR Rahman and I came together to build a virtual platform for creative people starting in India but potentially for the world.

At Qyuki, we believe that-
(a) The ‘www’ (world wide web) is transforming to ‘wwVw’ or the “world wide video web”.
(b) In the new world and especially a world dominated by millennials and digital natives with smart phones, the lines between a creator and consumer are blurring resulting in a tsunami of creative talent.
(c) Digital superstars are emerging who have greater online clout with millennials than traditional media stars!

In this backdrop when you consider that India has the world’s largest population of millennials and is the fastest growing mobile internet economy, it’s very clear that an amazing business opportunity exists in empowering creators with technology, distribution, marketing, PR and production to scale online with the aim of building a cross platform media business that monetizes across the internet, radio, TV, live entertainment and film. This is Qyuki!

How do you think Qyuki is different from its market competitors? What is its USP?

We believe our biggest differentiator is culture and the way we see the business. Most importantly we have a ‘Creator First’ culture across everything we do. Second, the way we see the business is that we believe the creator is our customer unlike most companies who believe the end consumer is their customer. Ask yourself, if you watch IPL, are you an IPL fan first or are you a Sony TV fan or maybe a Hotstar fan? Would it make a difference if next year IPL was on Netflix and Star Sports instead? Probably not! Similarly, consumers have and always will have greater loyalty to the creator and content versus a network/company and therefore we always lead with our creator’s brand. In the new world order of distributed platforms and on-demand viewership across FANGS (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Snapchat) the real power rests with creators and we are uniquely structured right from our founding team to the way we conduct business to leverage this.

What is your current funding status?

Qyuki has a mix of some super angels including Flipkart’s Binny Bansal and Singapore Angel Network and a few other prominent tech and traditional business entrepreneurs along with corporate investors Cisco.

What is your monetization model that you are following existingly?

There are three main engines that drive multiple revenue streams within them.
(1) Qyuki Network which consists of all of our content and channels largely across YouTube and Facebook, is leveraged as a unique marketing medium which earns ad dollars

(2) Qyuki Content Solutions which creates IPs/Formats like Jammin’, Project X and also works with Brands (Coca Cola, Flipkart, Vodafone, VW, Colgate and others) on large ticket engagements across sponsorship or commissioned content opportunities and finally

(3) Alive@Qyuki which extends content/creators to the live arena for gigs, red carpet appearances, meet and greets and the like. The core of all of this is the talent that we help scale online which is the starting point for everything and then monetize across media channels

What kind of traction is Qyuki getting now & share your future plans with us?

In under four years Qyuki has helped scale the biggest channels in independent music in India led by SANAM, Pranks led by FunkYou, Auto led by PowerDrift and Dance led by Live to Dance with Sonali to name a few. Qyuki content solutions launched the biggest cross platform music IP with Jammin’ last year and executed numerous branded content solutions for major corporations and we launched Alive@Qyuki to help complete our online to offline foray.

We think our model has evolved well and is stable. Now, it’s a question of scaling in each of the divisions from the current multi million dollar revenue streams to 10x in the next 3 years.

What kind of challenges did you face in the initial stages?

The cost of being a pioneer is that you can never time the precise inflection point in the market. Being early in the market, not having replicas abroad and a general lack of understanding of content and media in the investor community have been some of the key challenges we faced and have overcome in varying degrees. Over the next 2 years we think there are going to be some tectonic shifts in the video ecosystem and monetization models and a transition from just ‘talk’ to actual ‘action’ on driving digital as a core connect point for brands

What kind of market size & opportunities are you looking at?

On the demand side India is the world’s fastest growing mobile internet market scaling to about half a billion internet users in the short term. Video is growing as the preferred mode of consumption across every major content platform led by YouTube and Facebook. Our estimates put video views in India at well over 200 billion per month on just these two platforms. Jio’s launch has not only directly impacted growth but also created a ripple effect with other data providers to crash rates driving consumption up across the board.

The market opportunity to leverage this will come from increased brand spending on online video not only via generic pre-roll based ads but more interestingly through content marketing initiatives like web series, sponsored formats and 360 degree deals centered around digital. Digital spends at 10k crore today are growing at 30-35% compounded annually to 20k+ crore in 3 years which may increase further when we reach the tipping point of actually shifting other media format budgets to digital. This is similar to what happened with Print and TV in the early 2000s. There isn’t a more interesting destination for a video play than India today.

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