Raghav Bahl and Ronnie Screwvala keep industry in splits at IAA KnowledgeSeries

19 Sep,2016

By A Correspondent


When two people who have been successful entrepreneurs decide to exit their already successful businesses that they built and hit the‘restart’ button to build something different and new, that makes a good story and discussion. And, that is what IAA Knowledge series held on September 16 was about. With the core theme ‘Reshaping Markets Through Disruption’, the topic of discussion was ‘Can they do it again?’ The gentlemen in question, Raghav Bahl, Founder, Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd and Ronnie Screwvala, ‎Founder UTV Group, Unilazer Ventures and Swades Foundation, are known for disrupting the media business and now they have gone separate from the respective media empire they built and have started a new chapter in their lives. The moderator of the discussion was Mini Menon, ‎Co-Founder & Editor at Indy Network Pvt Ltd.


The question that everybody had and was perhaps one of the important questions in everybody’s mind to Bahl was asked by Menon at the start. The time he founded CNBC TV18 to now, a lot has changes, so, what is his plan for disruption? “I do not think you can reinvent the model but you have to do better content. When we started CNBC TV18, our revenue line was about Rs 5-6 crores. Today, the business news market is roughly an Rs 550 crore market. As this equity literacy grows, investors will come in. The USP has to be content,” said Bahl.


Screwvala pulled a fast one by saying, “We crossed paths during the launch of UTV-Bloomberg channel.” “And when the UTV ticker went out through CNBC channel,” he added.


Bahl believes that our country is a late adapter in everything. He is of the opinion that you cannot disrupt an already established model but you have to come up with better content.


Another popular belief that we keep hearing is ‘Digital is the future and it has arrived’. But Screwvala feels that the OTT is a tough model. According to him, platforms like Netflix will figure out that India is a local market and expensive series will not be successful here. “At the core of this is, if the consumer is willing to pay? So, that is the real disruption which will again only happen by the people who really want to shake up this market,”


One popular opinion which was popping up time and again during the discussion as well as during the Q and A session with the audience was the timing of their exit. Many still feel they exited earlier than they should have. “One of the reasons we left the business is due to the regulations. There are still Draconian regulations in place,” said Bahl. “Exits cannot be timed. You cannot rewind the clock whether in media or in life. I have no regrets. The things are exactly exhilarating now as to when I started UTV,” explained Screwvala.


And, finally what would their advice to the upcoming entrepreneurs? Bahl said, “Just go by your balance sheet. Do not go beyond it. Young entrepreneurs should not get seduced by the media. You guys have not become superstars. Be resistant to changing times because it is not a sexy, glamorous field to be in, but very stressful.” “You build what you want to build and stay constant about it and your vision. Today’s ecosystem is forcing you to grow a little bit horizontal, but do not go by what investors want. If you are not curious, then this is Netflix and Amazon have figured out that India is a local market and expensive series will not be successful not the space for you,” advised Screwvala.


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