The era of internet has provided tremendous opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to establish successful ventures by providing an interface for end users and solving their problems with use of technology. Internet has provided myriad of ideas for enthusiastic entrepreneurs to gorge upon.
Grabbing one of these opportunities and mitigating the agony of the end consumers has led to introduction of a gamut of new products and services in the event industry of India – “Online ticketing solutions and promotions” in India. Mere introduction of this platform has brought about 360 degree change in the working of events industry of India.
Recently, I got a chance to have a telephonic conversation with Mr.Naidu Darapaneni, Founder and CEO at MeraEvents.
Recognizing a problem, identifying a gap, churning a solution for it and turning it into a successful venture is what defines Mr.Naidu Darapaneni. With the expertise of 15 years in information technology field and running a B2B business for almost 10 years in USA, Mr. Naidu returned back to India in 2007 to start a B2C business.
How and when did ‘MeraEvents’ start? What is the story behind ‘MeraEvents’?
When I came back to India in 2007, I saw that there is a huge potential in the Indian market. As I was doing a B2B business all these years in US, I wanted to start a B2C business. To feel the Indian market, I started attending various trade shows and startup events across the country and while I was doing so, I realized that a lot of times it was difficult to find information about any event beforehand. After validating this thought into various other people, I understood this issue is being faced by many people, including me. And to top it up, even if you find information of any event on time, the process of obtaining the tickets is a highly tedious and time consuming work to accomplish. So, that is where the idea of ‘MeraEvents’ was born- to get events information and ticketing solutions under one roof. And to give a personal touch to the name of the venture, we named it as “MeraEvents”. It was officially launched in Oct 2009.
What is gives your product a competitive advantage in the market over other players?
We have multiple advantages over other players in the market. Firstly, we have gained the early-mover advantage.We stepped into the market, when there were no other players. This added to our competitive edge and today we are proud to have 6.5 lakh facebook fan base and almost half a million users.
Secondly, we are the lowest payment gateway (2.5%) solution among the players in the Indian market. This is basically to attract and encourage Indian buyers to buy online tickets for an event. Still, there is huge untapped market of customers who are not comfortable in buying tickets online for any event.
Thirdly, technology wise – We are superior to our competitors, in terms of responsive designs – wherein the website is compatible with all the different viewing platforms.
Fourthly, Local presence in six cities and customer satisfaction is our core strength.
To top it up, we have already started venturing into different segments of the same industry and are extending value proposition to our customers. We are trying to come up as an end to end events technological solution company rather than just online ticketing solution in India.
Recently, we heard about “MoozUp” launched by MeraEvents. Can you throw some light on it and the different segment areas you are focusing on currently?
As I told you, we are extending our value proposition into different areas of the same industry. We are diversifying into different areas in the same industry.
First of all, MoozUp is our new product that provides networking opportunities before, during and after the event. One of the very purposes of a participant attending a physical event is to network and find people with whom you can exchange business services and ideas. And MoozUp does the same and provides the basic platform for any event’s participants to network – before the event, during the event and after the event. It allows creating a communityfor each event, wherein the access is exclusively given to participants of the event while keeping each participants privacyintact. It is highly beneficial to the event organizers as well.
Alongside, we are also in the process of launching a shorter version of MoozUp called – MoozUpLite. This is a complete go-green initiative by us. This aims at reducing the paper usage by 75 percent for any event. It will be launched soon.
Second of all, we have also started MeraEvents Venues, wherein we assist the organizers to locate a proper venue for their event. So, this is how we are increasing our horizon each day.
What, do you think, was the major entry barrier into the events industry of India?
The major challenge was to change the mindset of the users and customers in the industry. The events industry in India is highly unorganized. So, the first and foremost hurdle was to break the mindset and bring the unorganized sector on a systematic road. Encouraging the users and customers to use the online potential was very difficult. Initially, offering the services for free was also not helping us. But, now there is complete 360 degree turn in the industry.
What are the major factors contributing to the success of MeraEvents?
First of all, we always envisioned to be a long term player in the Indian Market. Keeping that in mind, we ensured to provide customers the added value before, which then, in turn started to convert the value into cash flows. Customer delight was and is our major focus.
Second of all, my team has always been on its toes to take up the everyday challenges and make a difference. They have been with me from day one and have continuously provided important inputs for the growth of the company.
Where do you see “MeraEvents” in the next 5 years? Any major expansion plans?
MeraEvents, is primarily focused in India so far. My vision for it in the next 5 years would be to expand its operations in other Asian and Middle-east countries. Regarding MoozUp and MoozUp Lite, I think it has a great potential to go global and bring a change in the entire functioning and organisation of events.
In addition to these, once the venues.meraevents.com is successful, then we would want to bring in and offer service providers info to event organizers under one roof. This may take another 2–3 years down the line.
Any message for the budding entrepreneurs of India?
One, I would like to speak out of my sheer experience, that you always need to be among the top three players to survive in any industry today. And to achieve that, you need to enter any market with an attitude of problem-solving and turning this ‘problem-solving’ solution into a business opportunity by the help of technology.
Second, it is very important to enter in the market with a long term perspective. Unless, you have at least 3 to 5 years plan in the Indian market, a strong focus, and sustenance, it is difficult to survive. Long term plan and persistence will help you to succeed.