While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.
The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the recent Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.
Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.
In this interaction with Adgully, Deepak Salvi, Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Chingari App, speaks about his journey as an entrepreneur, the birth of Chingari and its core business proposition, the Government push for the start-up ecosystem and much more.
Please take us through your journey as an entrepreneur. What motivated you to establish your start-up? What were you doing prior to turning an entrepreneur?
The leap to take an entrepreneurial journey came through all the experience and wisdom in the professional career. To build something in the same field, with which people would relate and connect, has always been a dream and passion. Although, there are no hard and fast rules for the best way to launch into entrepreneurship, we recognised and acted on an opportunity of a platform, which is for India by an Indian.
I have almost two decades of media experience, a successful stint in heading creative departments and launching many leading TV and OTT brands.
What need gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?
Despite many ideas already floating in the market, there was still a bridge to be built to reach out to the masses and their hunger for more consumption of content. We wanted to fill that void.
Chingari was born with the idea to give room to the content curator to create various sorts of videos and share among the people & peer community, available in more than 20 regional languages. The short video app is witnessing exponential growth and gaining in popularity along with social platforms.
The core business proposition is to offer an app that breaks through all language barriers to reach out to its audiences with news, entertainment, games, infotainment, edutainment – a platform which is for Bharat, a go-to platform for everyone.
How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, identifying the market and your TG and connecting with them needs a very deep dive into a lot of research and understanding. Chingari App caters to Gen X, Gen Y Gen Z – these are the generations that have made significant changes in the consumption habit of video content. They easily flit between platforms and technologies and pick up new software quickly. Keeping up with the pace and expectation of this TG means constantly evolving and asking yourself ‘what will I offer, create or change that might have an impact’, and whether there is a better way to solve or address it.
What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?
To create your own existence, one needs to remain focused. You will need to focus on the skills, experience, and resources necessary for your venture, and the management and decision making required to ensure success and adjust your plan based on changes and new information.
Chingari’s content and the UI features were prominent, which gave us a way to the hearts of the Indian people. Chingari is a homegrown short format video app and user-generated content app which is firing ahead on all cylinders and attracting millions of users.
Funds/ finance is the prime issue for almost all start-ups. What can the industry and the Government do to address this issue and ease the capital requirements of start-ups?
There are several stages that a start-up has to withstand, ranging from three to six – Discovery, Idea Validation, Seed Funding, Growth/ Scaling Up Stage, Maturity Stage – growth could be tricky. To address the funding needs of a start-up, the role of investors is pivotal. Start-ups need guidance and mentoring in showcasing their skills and products and benefitting from these forums and platforms. One of the significant steps that the Government of India took was to launch the Start-up Action Plan, the idea was to fast track the spread of the start-ups movement, which addressed various aspects of the start-up ecosystem and provide innovative entrepreneurs with a launch pad and support system. What we need is creating an infrastructure for motivating and mentoring start-ups and simplification of the regulatory regime.
Prime Minister Modi has just announced a Start-up India Seed Fund. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?
The Government is quite supportive when it comes to start-ups. With the objective to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and start-ups in the country, Government initiatives like Start-up India and Digital India have given push to budding entrepreneurs to come up with new products & ventures. Different initiatives have been taken by the Government of India to give wings to the entrepreneurial spirits. The maximum start-up age cap has been raised from two years to seven years. The launch of Startup India was also the Government’s flagship program, aimed specifically to catalyse the culture of start-ups and create a deep and inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in India. Some of the Government schemes launched to develop and foster entrepreneurship in India are Startup India Seed Fund, Startup India Initiative, ASPIRE, MUDRA Bank, Ministry of Skill Development. Of course, start-ups are benefitting from all these initiatives.
How is digital helping you further your business?
India is well on its way to becoming a digitally advanced country and considered one of the youngest nations in the world with an average age of 29 years. With such demography, the obsession and thirst for entertainment are huge. The number of Internet subscribers (both broadband and narrowband put together) now stands at 665.31 million.
Chingari is a short video app, entertaining and catering to the needs of video consumption audience, which is more ubiquitous than ever, it’s definitely going to be an interesting challenge with the new technologies and innovation coming up in this digital era – that is, Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT) – technology will disrupt the market and we are gearing up for the same.
What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?
The year of reimagining every business model and exploring other avenues of revenues was the greatest challenge and biggest learning of 2020. It was evident that the strong will survive and hence, quick re-invent and address was the key. However, certain sectors did witness growth, such as healthcare, biotech, edtech, fintech, online gaming, Digital & Social media, and OTT, among others, the fastest was short-video apps, which became a very popular entertainment source.
Start-ups that emerge from this crisis will have a larger opportunity in the digital economy. We will also see an acceleration of unique Indian business models as founders continue to build for Bharat. Technology will be the new mainstay and start-ups will leverage it for cost efficiency, scale and transparency.
The Government has realised the value of new technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and a lot of tech investment has been made and is expected to continue in the future as well. These reforms will support start-ups in several domains and fuel their growth.
What would be your message for the budding entrepreneurs?
Taking guidance and advice from experts in the industry also helps in defining the road map. Listen to what everybody has to say, but go ahead with what you feel is right. Just believe in yourself and your product.