There are artists and there are events and event organisers – not just professional event managers but also individuals who might want to create a private event. Or just someone who needs a talented creative ‘teacher’ for an art form. BigMyGig is an online artist search and discovery tool that two youngsters, both alumni of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, have created to help you book the artist for your event.
What, another talent website? Weren’t there two more that got added to the list recently? One from Quikr which is like the Naukri of the creative world (mediabrief.com url here), and another from Actor-entrepreneur Sunil Shetty and casting director Mukesh Chhabra, called, well, FTheCouch.com?
But BigMyGig came up before these, and it is not a talent – or rather, artist – sourcing site for the tv and movie industry. Instead, BigMyGig sources talent for events; that was the single focus with with which it was started. For events, and to brig artists and the individual or the professional event manager, together.
An artist doesn’t get enough shows because of poor reach and improper representation whereas a user doesn’t have many avenues for reaching out to the artist of his choice, says Ramalingam Subramanian, Founder & CEO of BigMyGig. “We are trying to bridge this need gap through a convenient online solution.
Of the two founders of BigMyGig, one has been an event manager and the other a performing artist. “We faced similar problems in the past, and this motivated us to come up with this tool to bridge the gap between the event organizer and the artist.”
For the Event Organizer, the BigMyGig tool enables them to search through over 1200 digital portfolios, filter, short-list and book the portfolios that they like. The search engine works on the principle of relevance. This ensures that every artist requirement is accurately serviced. Using the Packages feature of the tool, the event organizer can book a complete Entertainment Package for a particular event.
On the artist front, the BigMyGig tool uses a 3-stage filtering process, known as the Invitation Model. Here, artists can send requests to join BigMyGig through dedicated links on the website, after which a screening process is undertaken. Artists are invited only when they meet stringent quality parameters. This ensures that every artist on BigMyGig is verified and validated, to ensure quality to its patrons.
The artist search page is neatly laid out, and offers filters on talent and the budget – ranging up to Rs 20 lakh.
The tool is built to foster trust and transparency which is a critical requirement of the entertainment industry. Artists can set their own price and also get into direct negotiations with clients, with BigMyGig playing the role of facilitator. With the security of payments, artists can now safely focus on improving their talent while relying on BigMyGig for their business.
Subramanian is confident BigMyGig will resonate in the industry because, he says, “with USPs like direct negotiations, pre-payment guarantee and real-time portfolios, BigMyGig is redefining entertainment delivery.”
We asked him for some numbers, and he said that BigMyGig, created in October 2015, has since booked 1250 artists and reached 650 event managers, and including the two co-Founders, is now a team of 10.
What does the future look like? Subramaniam is upbeat. “See, initially, BigMyGig was started as an offline company managing artists to garner a strong learning curve to provide specific solutions to problems. After the launch of the consumer version of the tool, with a promising season ahead, we are looking at topline of Rs 50 lacs for the year ending 2016-17. A bootstrapped venture, BigMyGig is now actively seeking partnerships to scale up and make the tool available for a larger audience.”
Why give up a promising career in a top corporate for BigMyGig? How did it all start? The two cofounders, Ramalingam Subramanian aka Ram and Pratik Rathod aka Pratik, met at what Ram describes as “the humble campus of India’s CEO factory, Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies.” Incidentally, at one of the premier competitions of Bajaj, Bizorion, the idea was first proposed. The idea won the new business ideas section of the competition and gave the duo the confidence to take it further. “It is the motivation and constant support that an initiative like Bizorion provides, that kept us going “says Pratik
Ramalingam grew up in Ahmedabad, a city of business. “Out of every 10 people, 11 do business” says Ram. This is where the seeds of being an entrepreneur were sowed in him. “I always wanted to do business. Be it a computer game, a board game or real life. I always wanted to be a Tycoon. But never for the money” says Ram. And true to that, in just his second year of engineering he went out to start a small event management business with his friend and partner Sabari Iyappan. “Splash, my event management firm, gave me a taste of business and made me face the realities of life,” he says. Splash had to close down due to the founders’ inability to do business. “This hurt me a lot,” says Ram. Although he had a growing career with Tata Consultancy Services, he wanted to learn more about business. He worked hard on his dream and got admission into Bajaj with a near 100 percentile. “Bajaj changed my life and gave a whole new dimension to me,” he says.
Pratik Rathod has a different track. “I always wanted to do something in music,” he says. He is passionate about music, and has been a musician for close to 12 years now. A Bandra boy, he knew how to get things done. A hustler at start, he says he was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. He believes he was fortunate enough to be a part of the competition and later, BigMyGig. “There are two kinds of people” Pratik says. “One who are scared and others who are ambitious and brave. I am definitely of the latter kind.” Pratik always wanted to work hard and party harder. This is something that he expects from all his employees now.
At Bajaj, they were quite the opposite students. Ram would keep to himself and his study of management, while Pratik was social and mingled easily with friends. “One thing we had in common was determination and principles.” Says Ram. “It’s good to be straightforward in life. It reduces a lot of tension and worries if you do the right thing always. Not that we have not been naughty and mischievous, but never have we ever done something that was legally or morally wrong,” says Pratik.
While at Bajaj, they were approached by a couple of angel investors ready to fund the idea, and they urged the duo to take it up full time. “One of the major reasons we are here today is because they pushed us,” says Ram. “But at that time, we were not confident of the business model ourselves. It was easy to get funds, but what mattered the most for us was to have confidence in the business” says Ram. They decided to bootstrap the venture and took up jobs with big corporations like Cipla and Arvind Brands.
“Our Corporate lives taught us a lot. I am particularly very thankful to Cipla for giving me a dream job,” says Ram, who worked as a trainee brand manager with Cipla Health on their various brands. A brand manager right out of college is a marketing student’s dream. When asked how difficult it was to quit, Ram replied “It was crystal clear in my mind. Every weekend whenever I and Pratik got time, we used to work on BigMyGig. We had put in a lot of time in the idea and now it was time for execution.”
“Quitting Cipla a week before my marriage was a tough decision I had to make, but even tougher was convincing my would be in-laws about it! I am particularly grateful to my wife, who has stood by me through this time. My parents and my in-laws have been a strong support too. I believe that if you can’t get your family on board (your decisions) you can’t get anywhere,” he adds.
Pratik was working with Arvind Brands, his first job in life. “I enjoyed working a lot and certainly learnt a lot during my time there,” he says. “More than the technical aspects, I learnt about myself at Arvind. Staying away from home and working in remote places in Odisha made me realize the value of time, hard work and of having a dream. When I quit, I was slightly comfortable coming from a business background, but I was also sure I hadn’t been made for a corporate life. I met people who only wanted to earn and hence did not have the motivation to excel. On the other hand, I am a person who likes to enjoy life and spend and that drives me to work hard every day to fulfill my numerous dreams,” he says.
Once the decision was made, BigMyGig started full on for the two. They left cushy jobs paying a lac a month, to do something that has paid them precious little for a long time. “When we see money trickling in today, it gives us immense pleasure,” says Pratik. But all was not so good, with clients trying to undercut, to blatantly disrespect agreements and at times even cheating, they say they have seen it all.
“We create policies that are favorable to everyone. We just expect adherence.” In the initial stages, they had to take setbacks and pay out of their own pockets to ensure loyalty from artists when organizers ditched them. “Today the same artists vouch for us and we have generated loads of referrals through them,” adds Ram.
With the season picking up and more events happening, BigMyGig is a busy place, says Ram. “With features like Pre-Payment Guarantee and Direct Negotiations, we are quietly inching ahead in our dream. Today we are setting up our own marquee properties like “Be the Artist” which helps one be any artist for the day, “Entertainment Explore” which combines adventure with entertainment and the “Emotional Packages” that provide artists for various emotions, like a romantic proposal or for just saying sorry. Our idea of providing artists for various new moments was to make every event in life memorable,” says Pratik.
They believe there is a lot of hidden talent in the interiors of the country, which need to be showcased, and hence plan to expand into more cities over the next five years. “Dying art forms need to be revived and given their rightful position,” says Ram. “We believe after Roti, Kapda and Makaan, Entertainment is a fundamental need for every human being.
“We are trying to improve the quality of entertainment here”.