Celebrities are reachable for people and not out of their league. Hyderabad based startup JilMore is helping people connect with celebrities and bridging the concealed gap. In conversation with the Founder of JilMore – Saradhi Babu Rasala who speaks about JilMore’s story.
Could you pitch for your startup?
JilMore is an online market place for all categories of performing artists. People who are in search of entertainment Services for family celebrations, corporate events; can find their choicest celebrities using JilMore. Interested users send an invitation to the artiste for an event with all details, synchronized with the artiste’s calendar and their availability. Prices and packages of entertainers are designed to suit your requirement well within the budget.
Tell us about your journey so far?
We started in 2015 with three founders. Since its inception, the JilMore team has created a database of around 600 event artists. With the help of our mentor, Nagabhushanam, we could connect to SP Balasubramanyam who became the front face and brand ambassador for our company. We were/are a platform for singers and now expanded to anchors, actors and many more artists.
Can you walk us through the activities of your startup?
We do three things, but will soon expand to corporate side. Firstly, we do ‘entertainers and celebrity bookings’ for events. Secondly, ‘Smart brand ambassador activity’ to connect celebrities to startups and small business. Thirdly, ‘encouraging talent’ from different art forms and projecting them through different TV Shows like JilMoreAanimutyalu, JilMore.com – Corporate Start 2017, JilMore.com – School Star 2017.
Can you elaborate on the Corporate start program?
On the corporate side – we have a Corporate Lifestyle Program where we are collaborating with companies. Through this program, employee engagement, at the same time, company branding will happen. We will even telecast it on TV and spread the word through celebrity endorsements. Hiring talent becomes easy because the brand value increases. We are conducting corporate star programs like Indian idol.
You are the very few startups that went international. How did that happen?
The model which you chose is important when you want to go international. In a very short span of time, we launched a franchise model and started operating in B2B2C model. We started our franchises in 8 states of the USA as well as UK. We did not want to create a new entity abroad. People approached us as they saw a need there and we gave our franchise to an existing entity.
How did experience from your two previous startups help in setting up JilMore?
I had two startups before starting JilMore. My previous startups needed huge marketing fund, working capital, and the margin was less. If you maintain any inventory, the commission is less and a lot of investment goes into operations. So, with JilMore we jotted down all the points – ensured funding doesn’t become a big-criteria and also where we need not market a lot and giveaway huge discounts.
Can you brief us about your marketing strategy?
JilMore follows an indirect marketing strategy. The celebrities themselves are our marketing base because they can reach out to their followers and ask them to sign up with us. In a way, our supply itself is helping us create the demand.
Tell us about your interaction with celebrities.
Being a techie guy, I was initially clueless. It took us sometime, but within our network we started knowing people and became knowledgeable. Most of the celebrities are punctual and maintain their professionalism. The attitude towards celebrities is also important which even our customers are following.
Who are your competitors?
Though we are a unique startup, event management companies can be considered as competition for us. We are not an event management company, a piece of it, ‘celebrity arrangement’ is what our startup does. They are an established market and have an exclusive PR who maintains contacts and best quote. In the near future, we may tie up with them for the Corporate and school programs and would like to work together.
Startups cannot afford to spend a lot on brand ambassadors. How does smart brand ambassador work?
That’s right – a brand ambassador will charge a lot of money and will have to shoot an ad. But our model is different. A celebrity will check your app, use it and give a small byte and feel if it is really good, they will recommend it on their social media. Call ambulance app which was promoted as a part of the program is a fine example. The downloads from 7,000 went upto 48,000 downloads. We are budget friendly and create a contract-free model.
What changed from the time you started in 2015?
JilMore has undergone a significant change. We thought the booking value would be small but it is more than what we expected. Our model has changed from the time we started off. Startup brand ambassador is a new addition. Association with TV channels is something we did not anticipate initially.
Could you tell us about your future plans?
The immediate goal is to sustain ourselves and create our own talent. There will be new talent coming in within 5 years. Going to schools through School Star 2017 to find such talent is one such example. In the near future, JilMore will be the hub for creative talent. Furthermore, we want to expand in complete South India.
What is your advice for startups?
I have three things to convey to startups – Firstly, don’t invest all your money in technology-try to get traction and see how is it working or not. Only then invest on technology phase wise. Secondly, don’t waste time on finding investments – just do small business, generate the revenue yourself. Finally, equity is the most valuable thing. Think before diluting equity.