What is the first thing that comes into your mind when I say BookMyShow??…. Movies!!! The days when you had to go stand in a queue for hours outside a theater are gone, we now have BookMyShow to do that for you (no, I don’t mean BookMyShow literally stands in a line for you, duh!!).
There was a time when you went to the theaters only to find out that the movie’s houseful and if you were the god of sheer bad luck then you would realize after reaching the theater that the movie is not being played there.
What did boyfriends & girlfriends do when they wanted to sneak out to watch a movie (and I’m talking about the time when couples actually watched movies, if you know what I mean!!!*wink*); just walk up to a theater with hopes of finding a good movie and reaching there, only to realize that the movie was half done.
BookMyShow has changed the face of Ticketing System for movies and events in India. It has brought cinema or rather movies, in the pockets of masses. BookMyShow has also largely contributed in getting masses closer to movies. It has actually managed to get the unorganized ticketing system, organized. BookMyShow is like a complete package or a one stop destination for any and every update about movies, from movie releases, show timings, theater availability and its details, movie details, movie songs, movie trailers, movie reviews to booking tickets, BookMyShow has it all!
When the country was learning and understanding computers and internet, when we all were new and fresh to it, is when this visionary Ashish Hemrajani, the boyish looking 24-year old, launched BookMyShow. But unlike the fortunate ones, the ride, the journey for him was not an easy one! Neither was BookMyShow called BookMyShow then.
In the sixteen years of his journey, he has seen and faced every bitter truth of life. From INR 25,000 as capital to INR 1,000 crore in valuation, from Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd to BookMyShow.com, from Dot Com crash and to Global Financial Crisis, he and his company has faced it all.
This journey of his, is clearly divided into three sections where there first was a RISE, then a FALL and finally an unbeatable comeback.
This journey of AH (Ashish Hemrajani) started in the year 1999 when he went for a trip to South Africa. During that time he was working for J. Walter Thompson, an advertising firm, after completing his masters in business administration. This trip changed his life and an idea struck him, while he was sitting under a tree and listening to radio promoting rugby tickets (Newton reincarnated). He came back, quit his job and decided to start his own company.
At the age of 24, he launched his first ever internet venture; “Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.” with its head office being his bedroom. Soon after the co-founders Parikshit Dar who took over Technology and Rajesh Balpande who took over Finance joined him they approached investors. Now back in the day, it wasn’t as easy as it is now, to get investors and with internet and technology not that prevalent it was even more difficult to present your proposal.
Now would you believe me if I told you that they got their first investor (JP Morgan- Chase Capital Partners) in their kitty by sending their proposal through “FAX” (…yeah, just fax!!). And not just any proposal but a ONE-PAGE fax stating just the business model and with that they were convinced and agreed to fund them with INR 2.5 crores. A less known fact is that they ran their business under the brand name ‘GoForTicketing’ which later they rebranded to ‘IndiaTicketing’ in 2002, before finally being called ‘BookMyShow’.
Now it was not an easy task to sell tickets online during that time because of obvious reasons such as no credit card, debit card and net banking penetration, poor broadband connectivity and lack of e-ticketing software in theaters and single screens and with 21 other competitors in the market it became even more difficult. They literally bought tickets in bulk and sold tickets to customers by sending 100s of people to deliver tickets on motor bikes.
Many-a-times, they faced losses due to non-scalable business model. But change in the laws gave them a lil ease. The business then was majorly offline or at their 12 call-centers in 12 cities.
With all the difficulties also they were doing a good business and accounted for 150 employees. The Dot Com industry was booming as well. So Chase, their capital partner sold off their stake to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Then the unthinkable happened in 2002, the Dot Com market crashed and their downfall started!
In 2002, the Dot Com market got busted and everyone in the industry, big or small faced the heat. It was even worse for the ones who were new and one of them was our BigTree Entertainment. As rightly said by Warren Buffet; when the tide pulls back, you know who’s been skinny dipping.
Their business went down to an all time low. All the investors pulled their hands back; they even had to cut a deal with News Corp to buy their business back from them. The situation was hand-to-mouth and got worse by every day.
They had to cut down on many employees salaries. They shut down all the offices along with their operations and only focused on the major cities of Mumbai & Delhi. Their team strength literally shrunk from 150 to 6. They had to tighten their business and its costs. Every rupee that they earned, they made sure to invest that every single rupee into the business.
The business was back to its basics with no investors from 2002 to 2006. There were times when they had no idea where the next meal will come from or how will they pay the salaries.
This fall made them realize a lot of things. It made them see things very differently. There were only two options left for AH now; either to shut the business down and go with the jobs that were being offered to him by the headhunters or keep hope in the business, invest all his savings and start all over again. AH’s confidence was not completely lost and he decided to stick with the business only to do things a little differently and mind you smartly as well.
Having decided that, they moved forwarded to build the business again and went back to fix every broken piece and soon things started turning in their favor. After the Dot Com Tsunami was gone, the market completely changed in India with better Internet, credit cards & debit cards facilities and infrastructure was also improvised, etc.
Between 2002 and 2004, the number of multiplexes across India also grew largely. With desperation to get back on their feet, they became software solutions providers that sold automated ticketing software to these multiplexes.
With the downfall they learned a very important lesson that anything given for free has no value, so now they started charging for the same. The softwares that they earlier offered for free, they now charged for the same. They also started running call centers for all their clients and ticketing back offices and were getting paid on a cost plus model. This got humongous response.
Knowingly or unknowingly, they now had a business model in place. With the sudden rise in the business the worth of the company also increased from a close to nil to a 24.1 crore valuation by 2007.
They were ready, the environment had changed and it was now time for a COMEBACK!
They started approaching fresh investors and finally luck favored them in March 2007 when Network 18 invested INR 14.5 crores in their business giving them a 60% stake in their business.
Now the boss was back in business and found it the perfect time to launch the ticketing business again which gave birth to a never ending “BookMyShow.com” (A name suggested by an intern developer), but only this time they were more prepared, cautious & organized. They kept ACs at 24 degrees, the alternate bulbs off, reused papers, pens, pins, etc. and saved money in every way possible.
BookMyShow quickly gained momentum and was literally everywhere. They in fact played it so well that the global financial crises didn’t affect them much. As a matter of fact, they hired some great talent during the global financial crisis.
And from here onward there was no stopping to the success of BookMyShow.
In 2011, BookMyShow reported revenues of INR 16.09 crores and as compared to the revenues of FY10 – INR 12.16 crores, it noted a significant growth of 32.36%.
It started tying up with mostly all the cinema’s and multiplexes. In July 2012, it made a record of selling 1 lakh tickets in a day and over 2 million tickets in a month.
BookMyShow was awarded ‘The Hottest Company of the Year-2011-12′ and ‘The Company to watch out for’ at the prestigious CNBC Young Turks Award followed by an acquisition of TicketGreen, a startup in December 2012, which added 100 single-screen cinemas to their inventory in Tamil Nadu.
In 2013, BookMyShow got another investor US-headquartered Accel Partners in their bucket to back them with a whooping INR 66 crores in total at an approximate valuation of INR 250 crores.
BookMyShow made sure that it secured itself in every way and that their reach is beyond limits and following the same theory it expanded to global markets like Malaysia and New Zealand. It not only expanded to different places but it also expanded in every genre and served as an exclusive ticketing partner for brands like Formula 1, Indian Premier League, Aircel Chennai Open, Super Fight League, Yonex Badminton Championships, etc.
Later in 2013, they managed to rope in PVR Cinemas by signing a five-year strategic partnership deal, adding 250 new cinema screens to their 1500+ cinemas which is currently handled by 200 people plus 150 outsourced employees.
In 2014, BookMyShow got a new well wisher, SAIF Partners who chipped in INR 150 crores and got BookMyShow a presence in 200+ cities. They are now collaborated with over 1,500 cinema screens across 200+ cities in India for ticketing services as well as providing software solutions to them.
BookMyShow currently accounts to USD $100,406 monthly revenue through ads with 500 million page views per month and 35-40 million unique visitors a month, its Facebook page hits 1 Million fans, it has an Alexa World Rank of 986 and currently, BookMyShow plans to launch an IPO in the next couple of years.