The one-year-old start-up Venturenet Partners Pvt Ltd is positioned as an internet audio distribution and content platform. It currently operates in-store radio channels, dubbed as SpotRadio, and is close to launching consumer Internet radio services under the brand Radiowalla. The firm has just raised an undisclosed amount in series A funding from Ojas Ventures Partners.
Venturenet is co-founded by Anil Srivatsa and Harvinderjit Bhatia, who have been in the industry for more than two decades. Srivatsa, former CEO of Kings XI Punjab (one of the cricket teams of the Indian Premier League) and former COO of Radio Today Broadcasting (Meow 104.8 FM), has spoken to Techcircle.in on the company's business model, funding and future roadmap. Here are the excerpts.
How will you use the capital raised from Ojas Ventures Partners? Can you share how much you have raised?
The series A funding from Ojas will be used for infrastructure and team-building. We already have 11-12 people on board and there will be around 23-24 people before March this year. However, I won't be able to disclose the funding amount.
What is the client base for SpotRadio and what is the revenue run rate, as of now?
Currently, we have around 25 clients for SpotRadio. But it is too early to disclose our run rate. As we have just received the funding and the current financial year is almost over, it's pointless to make predictions for this year. But we do hope to close 2013 at a monthly run rate of Rs 5-6 crore.
Tell us more about the consumer services under Radiowalla.
Radiowalla will launch more than 30 radio stations and we aim to provide our listeners with lots of choice. So there will be a huge breadth of content. There will be music stations, as well as non-music stations. In terms of music, we plan to come up with a lot of variety â€“ from regional music to country, jazz or any other genre. Everything will be there and it will be available on subscription basis. In all likelihood, there will be no ads for the music content.
In the non-music segment, we will have an ad-based revenue model and most of the channels will be available for free. But even in this segment, there will be subscription-only channels. So we will have a mixed business model at Radiowalla.
What will be the delivery model for Radiowalla? Do you plan to launch it as an app for the mobile platform?
Radiowalla will be available on any broadband-connected device. There will be apps, too, as we target cross-platform coverage.
But how would you deal with low bandwidth when you pipe music over the Internet?
First of all, we are only providing audio and that doesn't require so much bandwidth. Secondly, all the content will be chosen specifically for our listeners but there will be no download option. That, again, doesn't require high bandwidth. The only restriction is perhaps broadband connectivity but that is also increasing by the day.
Do you plan to position Radiowalla as an India-specific product or a global product â€“ both in terms of content and usage?
We are launching Radiowalla in India in April and yes, we are looking to position it as a global product. Apart from India, we are looking to launch it in the USA as I already have a presence there. Also, there will customised content for different markets. However, the first commercial launch is happening in India only.
Have you tied up with studios for content?
For music-based content, we have tied up with the usual players, including Saregama, PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd, which is the Copyright Society for sound recordings) and more. But for non-music content, there are very significant tie-ups in the pipeline. Nothing can be revealed right now but there will be some very important players with whom we will be collaborating.
What kind of content will be featured in the non-music section?
We will have voice-based programmes on news, lifestyle, sports, business, education and many more. As we are planning to launch more than 30 stations, all the channels will cater to different special interest groups, thus forming a big consumer base. That's the business model of Radiowalla.
What about the competition and how do you differentiate yourself?
All current players are our competition but we are here to collaborate, not compete. One of our aims is to make some strategic acquisitions and we are targeting players who have all the potential but not the resources. We would like to acquire mature products and thus collaborate with other players.
Radiowalla will bring back the enthusiasm, originally connected with the radio. Today, radio is not what it used to be but we will bring the traditional radio back. We will give users what they don't get anywhere else. You will get all genres of music, news, lifestyle programmes, educational narratives, sports, business and much more â€“ all at one place. Listeners will come to us because they will want to spend that amount of money to subscribe to that kind of content.
All our radio stations will be designed as standalone products. For instance, we will have podcasting, on-demand content and create-your-own-show options. These are all fresh products for us and need time, attention and resources like any other standalone product.
When will you start looking for the next round of funding?
We have already started looking for series B funding mainly because we have exceeded the number of stores targeted for SpotRadio. In fact, we have exceeded our target by almost ten times. So we will be in need of funding again. Also, we are looking at some acquisitions and that will require capital.