Business Today

Cool Companies

Business Today's fourth annual listing of 10 companies that are hip and happening. What made each of them stand up and be counted? Read on. 
The top ten in pictures

Print Edition: Nov 4, 2007

Business Today's fourth annual listing of 10 companies that are hip and happening. What made each of them stand up and be counted? Read on. 

The real-time hype
It’s changing the way people interact with TV content. pioneers in online distribution of films was founded in 2006. It has a revenue of Rs 4 crore
Over the last one year, at least 2 million people in India have gone to bed well after midnight. Blame Cellcast India. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Cellcast Asia Holding, the almost two-year old firm is changing the way viewers interact with the idiot box by putting interactive shows on air. Cellcast’s one such show, Bid2Win, is aired on Sony at midnight every day and has generated over 22 million responses since it was launched in November 2006, says Pankaj Thakar, CEO& MD, Cellcast Asia Holdings.

 So how are Cellcast’s shows different from other game shows? For starters, viewers can participate realtime and also see the results get flashed instantly. Bid2Win is an interactive reverse auction that allows viewers to purchase high-value items such as LCD TVs, iPods, and home theatre systems at a nominal amount by submitting the lowest unique bid via SMS, IVR (interactive voice response), WAP (wireless application protocol), online or even through the landline.

The bids pop up on screen via a graphical interface and the lowest bid gets to win. Another of Cellcast’s shows, Gold Safe, involves puzzles and quizzes and the winners are announced on a daily basis and are given prizes in both cash and kind. “We are doing totally different things for the Indian market, where we are trying to introduce new content and in some cases modifying some of the global content to suit the audience here,” says Thakar, 44, who worked with HCL and a Silicon Valley start-up earlier.

Cellcast, whose parent company is owned by Canaan Partners (39 per cent), UK-based Cellcast Plc (37 per cent), and the management team (24 per cent), buys telecast slots from channels and is now negotiating with others such as Zee, Nimbus and some news channels. It is also in the process of launching a show called Sona Le Ja Re on Sahara that is similar to Gold Safe (on Zee), besides sport shows such as virtual soccer and cricket.

-Shamni Pande


Putting the click on flicks
A 60-year-old movie production house breaks new ground with a portal.

MEOW(Radio Today), India's only just-for-women FM radio station, is yet to complete one full financial year.
MEOW(Radio Today)
It was a visit to finland that veered Rajjat Barjatya towards digital media. Early last year, he was visiting folks at Nokia’s headquarters in Espoo, when the 33-year-old Barjatya, a scion of one of Bollywood’s best-known movie-producing families, discovered that there were 15,000 Indian families who not just watched Bollywood flicks but were also clued into movie industry gossip.

“There are more than 25 million non-resident Indians (NRIs) but they do not have enough choices for Bollywood content,” says Barjatya. “A broadband entertainment portal was the answer.”

Thus was born, which started off in November 2006 by releasing online Barjatya-produced Hindi movie Vivah, followed by Hattrick, Life in a Metro and Blue Umbrella, among others. Today, the portal boasts of more than 6,000 hours of video content, including 250 short and full-length films and over 5,000 entertainment properties. It logs 1.5 million unique visitors per month and has served in excess of 15 million video streams per month and reaches 60 countries.

What is unique about is its business model. The portal has free streaming for older content that is supported by advertising. The second model is that of downloads, of which there are two kinds: downloads to own and downloads to rent. Download to own is without DRM (Digital Rights Management) to support interoperability of content and new content is downloads with DRM for 72 hours. “I want the content to be used right across multiple devices, which is not possible through the DRM route,” says Barjatya.

Paid downloads cost anywhere between $0.99 and $9.99. Older Rajshri movies cost $4.99 to download or are free in streaming video, but new releases cost $9.99 with no free streaming. Barjatya has been able to convince content owners such as UTV, STAR and Mukta Arts to provide him with content on a revenue-sharing basis. His next steps: create original content and tap consumers in India.

-Anusha Subramanian


Radio’s cool cat
In a crowded FM market, Meow has bet on a brave and unorthodox format.

APIDC Venture Capital has a revenue of Rs 1,200 crore (funds under management)
APIDC Venture Capital
A year-and-a-half ago when Anil Srivatsa came up with the concept of a just-for-women FM radio that would have chat show hosts instead of radio jockeys, there weren’t too many takers for it. But India Today Group’s Aroon Purie (Business Today is published by his group) liked the idea and asked the USbased Srivatsa to relocate to India and get the radio channel going.

Christened Meow, the FM channel has been on air for a little over five months now (it was launched on May 1) and by all accounts, it’s found a unique niche. “Going by certain industry yardsticks, we estimate we reach out to some 2.7 million listeners,” says Srivatsa, COO of Radio Today, which owns Meow. There is no independent verification of Srivatsa’s claim, but media buyers seem happy with Meow’s differentiation in a market that’s choc-a-block with identical radio stations.

Radio advertising accounts for Rs 505 crore (2006), but it grew at a scorching pace of 58 per cent from around Rs 317 crore in 2005. Says Satyajit Sen, Executive VP, Zenith Optimedia, a media services group: “The channel has a unique women-centric positioning and it will make sense for categories with a strong gender skew to drive engagements on the platform.”

Today, Meow offers a host of shows that deal with women’s issues in different ways. India’s bestknown woman cop, Kiran Bedi, hosts “Top Cat”, “Mama Meow” discusses issues related to motherhood, and Srivatsa himself hosts a popular show “Meow Between the Sheets” that deals with sex and relationships. Meow already has a presence in Kolkata, will launch in Mumbai later this month, and plans to hit Amritsar, Patiala, Shimla and Jodhpur before yearend. The verdict is still out on Meow, but there’s no doubt that it has got women talking.

-Pallavi Srivastava

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