A conversation with Mr.Naidu Darapaneni, Founder and CEO at MeraEvents

A conversation with Mr.Naidu Darapaneni, Founder and CEO at MeraEvents

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’?

Mr.NaiduWhen 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.

Moozup

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.

Event Managers – Here’s a comparative analysis on various online ticketing solutions in India

Event Managers - Here's a comparative analysis on various online ticketing solutions in India

Organizing any event has become such a cakewalk in present times. Gone are those days when planning an event seemed like a mountain to climb.  In today’s era of technology and internet, everything and anything is just a click away; be it information on the small eatery by the side of the lane of your house or a gadget you want to purchase manufactured in the other corner of the world. Not only information or physical products are available online but different type of specialized services is also being offered by companies.

To begin with, there are companies that provide solutions for online ticket booking of an event. It can be a conference, a seminar, a workshop or even a charity fund raiser. Not only do they provide ticketing solutions, but they also help you manage promotion and advertising of your event to the target customers; not to mention at a reasonable cost.

In India, there are basically the following major companies (or I would say websites) providing the expertise and professional services in this segment:

All the above organizations provide core and basic online event management ticketing software solutions with certain differences in their features, pricing and promotion plans. Let’s discuss them :

Features

Hipcity and Ayojak provide basic services for online ticket booking for the event. Ayojak, not only offers to provide various basic features but also provides high end safety and security features too such as it provides e-ticket with unique bar code/QR code. This feature enhances the safety of each ticket and disables tempering of the printed tickets. Ayojak also provides offline ticket services in the form COD (cash on delivery) to the customers.

MeraEvents, apart from providing the basic online ticketing service, gives you a complete gamut of information on the various events happening all over India on its website. It also offers COD service in the major cities of India.

DoAttend makes it a lot of fun and easy by providing a number of different features such as personalized e-ticket, last minute registration, allows you to setup a LIVE coverage page for your event, provides minute to minute statistics and registration tracking of your event and many more. In addition to this, it lures you with various other features mentioned on its website. DoAttend also provides a user-friendly interface for iPhone and iPad customers.

EventAvenue, in addition to providing ticketing solution for events, has many services to offer. It provides exhibitor management services, registration for web seminars, offers education institutions with admission application management, and donation collection.  It offers variety of different services designed for specialized needs of the customer.

Eventzilla, yet another competitor in the market, are providing online – offline ticketing and event promotion solutions for professional as well as social events. It offers its services to a wide range of customers ranging from conference planners to family reunion organizers to comedy clubs and tour operators too. It offers to deliver tickets online with a unique bar code and it also offers to manage cancellations of attendees to your event. It provides an end to end service to its customers.

Pricing

Hipcity, Ayojak and DoAttend do not charge or associate any fees for free events. MeraEvents charges a nominal fee of Rs.1000 for creating and listing of any free event.

For ticketed events, Hipcity and Doattend charge 4.9% per transaction plus Rs.15 per attendee. Doattend, in addition supports transaction in 21 currencies and accepts payment through Paypal.

Ayojak, for the same, has different plans – Standard, Premium and Elite, designed for different user needs. The transaction fee per ticket ranges from 5% to 10% plus Rs.15 per attendee on standard and premium plans. Ayojak also offers a package plan for large conferences for the customer.

MeraEvents, charges a standard 2.5% payment gateway fee per transaction. This gateway fee is standard and is included in all the different plans offered by MeraEvents.

EventAvenue offers three plans – Economy, Premium and Privilege. Each plan has a setup fee which is non-refundable ranging from Rs.8500 to Rs.41000. Apart from this, the cost per registration or transaction differs on the basis of the payment options and the plan selected and ranges from 3.00% to 7.00%.

Eventzilla, charges 4.75% per transaction plus Rs.15 per attendee. In addition, Eventzilla also offers to support transaction in 21 currencies all over the globe.

Promotion and Advertising Plans

All the companies help you promote and advertise your event on the online platform. Each one has a unique and a different plan for catering different customers.

Ayojak again, has designed standard, premium and elite plans which ranges from Rs.9999 to Rs.45000 and includes different promotion services according to the respective plan. Similarly, MeraEvents have also designed five different promotion plans namely – Basic, Essential, Economy, Deluxe, and Premium plan ranging from as low as Rs.1000 to as high as Rs.25000. MeraEvents also has a different segment for advertising and provides 3 uniquely designed plans for the same – Premium, Deluxe and Basic plan ranging from Rs.5000 to Rs.25000. This caters to the customers who are looking for only advertising of their event.

EventsAvenue, provides promotional and advertisement services specifically in the form of mass mailing and charges for the same depend upon the number of emails per event starts from as low as Rs.600. They also provide various other optional advertising and research services.

Eventzilla does not provide exclusive promotion and advertising package plans for your event, but it includes promotion of your event on few online platforms in their standard plan.

So, does it now really feel a daunting task to plan and organize any event with such help round the corner? With these companies creating a landmark by providing specialized services in a niche market, tasks seem hassle free. No jitters running down the spine or jolts on the final day. So, kickstart your event with them and pull up a great show.