Rabi Gupta Co Founded idubba along with Ashish (college friend).Rabi was with Wipro for 3.5 years . They realized that the TV viewers are fast shifting to watching the content on the Multi Channel Networks like YouTube on the web and hence they decided to capitalize on this need much ahead of time. The original idea was to build a consumer website who liked to watch TV on the web coupled with some good recommendations from others and alerts about their programs.
They went to TV channels and began asking them for data and content and began meeting different people within the channel. There was a lot of resistance from the TV channels inspite of the idea being good because they could not relate the product with their needs for the simple fact that iDubba did not have a huge audience in their platform and the TV channels did not want to waste their time. They did not give up and were in touch with multiple people and went constantly to them pitching in new ideas and became good friends with them. After a few months when they went in with the concept and Zee TV said that they will try. They understood the consumer behaviour around TV Shows. They got into Morpheus and their product and the vision sharpened and a few Angel Investors like Rajan Anandan and a few others invested in their company. They made quite a good amount of business using iDubba for almost an year and also got decent traction in the market. They understood that this cannot be a huge business model and as a natural progression, they created iCouch which is a favourite show engagement. With the fundamental behaviour of the TV viewer where they are not worried about the discovery of the program they want to watch on TV because the program schedules are available in multiple places but the problem statement for them was how to decide what to watch. The biggest need of the recommendation of programs and connecting people when they are watching the same program through an app was an important discovery which they conceived.
They went after the TV channels and began talking about a partnership and ZeeTV and MTV piloted the concept where the chats will be live on screen when the program is being telecasted and people can comment on the program. Zee TV liked it because this was an innovation that the marketing team could bring to their audience. They tested it, liked it and were very happy but a new problem surfaced for iCouchApp.
The TV channels were not keen on promoting a third party brand but wanted to promote their brand when the program is being telecasted. The team was now forced to relook their B2C plan and make it a B2B plan. Plan. Rabi quotes that any organization uses two types of Apps, one for internal use by employees where not many of them care about engagement but the consumer facing app need to be well engaging with their customers. They began talking to the TV channels and had instant acceptance and they began the trials. Now came the next problem – How to price the product?. The issue was that the TV channels will feel that the price would be a little high when they would charge only a fixed fee but iCouch might lose money when they charge a less fixed fee, the cost of running the app will increase when the total number of users will increase and they will also have only a limited market opportunity. They then moved to a license + web fee + traffic related model which is getting them lots of revenue.
Rabi says that at the end of the day, they provide the consumer experience in-spite of them branding it on behalf of the TV channel. After the pilots and the apps in production, the TV channels realize that their apps did better than TV apps (own apps with content ) because this app was a social TV app(engagement app + content), where it is all about social and about building a community and not just watching a TV content which helps TV channels understand their audience better which was not possible earlier. This can be done on facebook where we don’t get the data and facebook can charge the brand also. They also realized that there is a big audience for the TV channels but they don’t know who the audience is , but iCouch will help them identify who the audience is and what their behaviour is.
Rabis advice to startups – One needs to build in trust for any brand or anyone to win business. This is pertinent especially in India when buyers are more cautious because every sales person is going to the customers with the same thing but not delivering what they are promising. In-spite of the fact that they had no experience in the media industry, the prospects knew them because of they constantly meeting the prospects and also showing them constant updates of their products and that gave the prospects a lot of trust in them
iCouchApp(http://blog.icouchapp.com/), now has 17 employees developing the core product and has 7 large TV channels as customers and is giving the customers more than 25 mn impressions per month. The app has around 8 lakh users of which 3 lakh users are active per month with around 15 Mn plus engagements. They have raised two rounds of Angel funds with the first from IAN which included Rajan Anandan and Ashok Kurian who sits on board of Zee TV and the second round from Mumbai Angels.