By Anju K.S.
The desperate hunt for a Batman movie for his son, one fine summer, triggered Raghav Kher to set up Seventymm, a movie rental company. The idea was to make any movie available, anytime and anywhere. But far from renting out movies, today Seventymm has expanded its canvas to a movie lovers’ community wherein one can discover, enjoy, share and indulge in the world of movies. The idea was an instant hit that the company even bagged three PC Web awards for 2008.
In this exclusive interview to Sify.com, Raghav Kher, founder and CEO of Seventymm, talks about his passion for movies and says that lack of blockbusters in DVD format is the key to film piracy in India. When a customer gets quality movies at affordable rates, why will he go for the pirated ones? he asks.
Excerpts from the interview:
How did you hit upon the idea of a web movie rental company?
The Seventymm story began a couple of years before its formal launch in Bangalore in the summer of 2005, when I was vacationing in Bangalore with my family. The trigger was a hunt for the Batman film for my son; which gave birth to the vision of: any movie, anywhere, any time in India.
The time was ripe for consumer services, especially in the internet space. There was manifold increase in purchasing power coupled with a consumerist attitude — people could & were spending more. Internet penetration was on the rise and e-commerce was seeing a boom time with an estimated 77% growth in B2C transactions. I also realised that this was a movie crazy nation, which produced nearly 900 movies a year. The tremendous growth of cable and satellite industry also indicated that people were spending more time and money on home entertainment. Also, the significant fall in the prices of DVD players lead to an explosive growth in DVD/VCD penetration into the household. All of these factors put together contributed to the birth of Seventymm.
We formally launched our operations in March 2006 in Bangalore and currently the service is available across Delhi & NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai & Hyderabad.
Apart from movie rentals, what are the other focus areas of your site?
We want to make Seventymm a one-stop destination for all movie buffs across India. From just movie rentals Seventymm has expanded its canvas to a movie lovers’ community wherein one can discover, enjoy, share and indulge in the world of movies apart from renting movies of their choice. The recently unveiled new avatar of Seventymm - Hangout with Movies is India's first 'interactive' platform for movies with a host of exciting features, interactive games and informative nuggets aimed at attracting the netizens. Some of the features include movie compatibility and ratings, celebrity quiz and wallpapers, videos, gossip and trivia. The site even has a provision for fan clubs and a section exclusively devoted to what is hot in the theatres now. In fact these features are now a big hit with our fans and also made us win the overall award in movie rental category at the PC World Web Awards recently.
Can you enlist your site’s top selling movies?
The top rentals on our site includes recent releases like Race, Tashan, American Gangster, Bourne Ultimatum to evergreen hits like Sholay, Chupke Chupke, Gone With the Wind, Roman Holiday etc. With a service like ours consumers not just want to catch up with the latest releases but also old movies, which they haven’t seen or may want to share with their friends and family.
Have you tied up directly with any of the film producers for exclusive rights or are there any other plans on these lines?
We have not yet tied up directly with any of the film producers for exclusive rights. We have rental licensing agreement with the content owners and with some of them we have certain exclusive contracts on content marketing.
What is your strategy to tackle the zooming competition in the area of movie rentals?
We respect competition and believe that healthy competition will lead to the overall growth of the home entertainment category. We are the market leaders having popularised the category across 6 cities and having over 70000 happy customers. Our focus is not only on consumer acquisition but also on keeping them happy month on month. For this we have invested in robust systems and processes, which are hard to replicate. This sets us apart from competition in a big way.
With the film piracy rate also on the rise, how profitable is your business? What are the efforts from your side?
Seventymm’s DVDs are authentic licensed copies guaranteed for quality viewing. When the customer gets the best quality of movies in pocket friendly amount, why will he go for the pirated ones? And not to forget the added advantage of the DVD’s delivered in a hassle — free manner to the consumer’s doorstep.
The main cause of piracy in India is the lack of choice of popular movies or blockbusters in DVD format. Content owners feel the legitimate Indian market is not large enough and hence they don’t release their products in India in time. Content owners should look at the potential of the market and provide the demanded movies to consumers well in time.
Today we have a membership base of more than 70,000 members. This vindicates our stand that if we can deliver original DVD/VCDs of their favourite films to their doorsteps, consumers will increasingly adopt us. So we feel this in itself will help curb piracy to a large extent. Plus we try and stay on top with our service always.