The only epidemic that would be legit to spread – Happydemic!

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“There is no substitution for hard work and focus”, says Radhika Mukherji Co-Founder & CEO of Happydemic and wife of Shantanu Mukherji, who is well known to all of us as our dear Shaan. Born in a Punjabi family, she is a complete juhu girl who has been a successful house maker for the past 13 years. When she saw Shaan judging reality shows she realized that there is immense talent budding in our country but due to the dearth of platforms available, the talent is not showcased, so she decided to become an entrepreneur and bring a smile to the faces of promising artisans and their families. To balance home and work has been challenging for her but she manages by planning each day of her life effectively so that she can decide the kitchen menu as well as attend meetings. She derives her inspiration from her husband who has balanced his personal and professional life quite well.

Their strategy is to acquire Business – Business – Customers (B-B-C) clients like corporates, restaurants, and wedding planners and connect the artist community to them so that the artists can showcase their talent in front of honourable audience. They build their trust with B-B-C by deploying vetted talent in a transparent way. The artists are selected on the basis of various parameters like voice, performance and presence, and hence all the cream is separated from the milk and the best talent is selected. Team Happydemic is the right blend of creativity, business and execution. They have developed many products, IPs and a bank of 800+ songs with the help of their passionate team members.

Amar Pandit, Co-Founder & CFO of Happydemic is a respected entrepreneur & leader with 20+ years of experience in IT & Financial Services. He is the Author of 4 Personal Finance Books and Founder & CEO of My Financial Advisor, the best private wealth management firm that helps smart and informed choices about money. He is an integral cog in this wheel that drives Happydemic.

One of the initial challenges they faced was with the business model. They started as a talent discovery platform but realized that many parts of the industry already cater to that need and hence decided to adopt a blue ocean strategy by focusing on the harnessing the talent and providing them with an audience which is a step forward in the chain.

Radhika sees Happydemic as a global brand that would have changed the game of the live entertainment space of India in the next 5 years and sees herself as a global entrepreneur after having made a positive impact in the music industry by organizing it and having made enough money for the external and internal stakeholders, in the next 10 years. We hope that Happydemic would be a globally recognised brand in the next 10 years and wish them luck for their future endeavours.

 

Lets See What Radhika Has to say about her journey so far and about her new venture in her own words…

1.What is the Name of Your Venture? Any specific reason for this name?
Happydemic’s essence is spreading happiness within the artist community by connecting them to the right audience. Shaan has been a part of reality music shows and there was so much talent out there. Once the season got over their talent didn’t get any direction. Happydemic strives to do that. Connecting exceptional talent with honourable audiences and spreading happiness to our artist and customers has been our aim… An epidemic of happiness, thus Happydemic.

2.Who is your target Audience/clients?
Our strategy to acquire clients would be Business – Business – Customers (B-B-C) like: corporates, restaurants, wedding planners. But more importantly we believe in Word of Mouth. Our talent is fantastic and we have a very systematic and transparent manner in which we deploy them. I think a customer gets immense sense of relief when he actually knows that it is a platform (a) that is transparent and (b) the talent is completely vetted. We vet our talent by our talent hunters or our coaches where they look at different parameters that would-be voice quality, performance and presence. We make sure that all of them are matched well and that is one benchmark that we have here. We have a certain benchmark in which we attain our talent. When you have great talent and you have curated them well, you have mentored them well, they are ought to get a good audience. We only got clients mostly who are corporates as we go B-B-C but a lot of B-C has been completely Word of Mouth.

3.Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & What are your geographical target areas?
Though we launched in Mumbai, we have done our first few performances in Delhi and Bengaluru as well. The goal is to start in Delhi and Bengaluru shortly … These 2 places have phenomenal potential and we are looking at setting up and establishing a base in these 2 cities … In early 2018, we will look at 3 – 5 other cities in India. By that point of time, we would have established a very good presence in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.

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4.What problems does your venture resolve? What are your products or services?
Happydemic is a platform that aims to bridge the gap between an artiste and his audience. We call ourselves live entertainment experts and we believe that a party is not a party if it’s not live. We want to bring live entertainment to everyone’s doorsteps and remove the myths around live entertainment that its very elaborate, there’s a lot of space that is used, it’s too expensive, etc. We want to show everyone that “live is the way to go” and that is the ethos that drives Happydemic.
We have created very unique and world class products such as Songstruck, Thank God It’s Monday , Corporates have Talent and many others .. The goal has been to create business impact through live music and experiences….At a family and individual level, we are offering Songstruck and other live experiences…

5.Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it came to an existence? What motivated you to start your own venture?
I have been with Shaan for 20 years now, and I have seen him host a lot of reality shows, host them initially and then he moved on to judging them, and there was exceptional talent that came on to these platforms. So any reality show has a whole lot of rounds that go in, and you have over hundred kids with exceptional talent coming in but finally there’s one winner. So the idea behind Happydemic was to actually help the other 99, to bring their talent up, to not let them spiral down because they were as popular as their last season. A lot of these kids leave their cities, their villages and they come to Mumbai to pursue this dream of music, and like we all know that the city of Mumbai is such an expensive city, they have talent but nowhere to perform so the spirit of Happydemic came from there, that we wanted to be that gust of wind beneath their wings to help them get work and to connect their exceptional talent with honourable audiences

6.Who are your biggest competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
What we are doing truly is a Blue Ocean so technically there are no competitors. However we would be foolish to say that. Many people think that event managers are our competition but they are not. We work with the best of the best Event Managers so we are not competing with Event Management companies. Getting this point across sometimes to potential clients is a challenge (as they have existing tieups with Event Companies and so on). However once they understand that we are different and our true value proposition is when we get opportunities to deliver world class live music experiences.

7.How did you identify your co-founder? Tell us some thing about your co-founder/s
Amar Pandit is the Founder & CFO of Happydemic. A Respected Entrepreneur & Leader with 20+ years of experience in IT & Financial Services. He is the Author of 4 Personal Finance Books and Founder & CEO of My Financial Advisor, the best private wealth management firm that helps Celebrities, Surgeons, Senior Corporate Executives and Entrepreneurs make smart and informed choices about money.
He personally advises and coaches celebrities , doctors , senior corporate executives and entrepreneurs on their personal finance matters. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and does so through his sharp and insightful columns published regularly in leading financial dailies , publications and portals.

8.How did you hired your first team members? What skills Do you want in your employees/team?
The skills I look for are ability to learn , openmindedness , their values should match the company’s vision and culture, autonomous (don’t need to be hand held ) and result oriented

9.What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
5 years from now I see Happydemic as a globally recognised brand. 5 years from now I know that every party will have live music as their entertainment
Because we are going to bring it down to affordable prices. We also see ourselves diverging into different performing arts and handling that too. We see ourselves as one of the game changers in the live entertainment space of the country.

10.Where do you want to see yourself in next 10 years?
In the next 10 years I see myself as a global entrepreneur. I see someone who has made a very positive impact in the music industry who has helped in organising this disorganised sector and of course as the CEO and founder of the company, I see myself making adequate money for my external and internal stakeholders

11.What are your goals over the next 1, 3, 6 and 12 months?
The goal setting for this year has already been done. As a team, we plan to take Happydemic to Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. The goal in the next month would be to start initiating these processes and to find the right strategic partners. In the next 3 to 6 months we see ourselves setting up in the above locations and before the end of 12 months we see ourselves with full fledge operations there.

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12.Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
Amar and I bootstrapped the business initially. Additionally, we were blessed to have a couple of angel investors (who happened to be friends) who believed in us and invested in Happydemic. We used our initial funds very wisely to build our team (management , artist, product development and execution), technology platform , marketing and sales. We got more done for less by being very resourceful (such as creating an awesome talent video for a fraction of the cost of what it would if done by a big agency or by anyone). First 8 months we operated from MFA offices. We then moved to our own office and have now built a team of 27 passionate professionals. Though there were a couple of big VC firms that approached us after our launch, we have consciously stayed away from taking in too much capital. Additionally we focused on building customers and funding through internal accruals. We are very fortunate to have signed up 30+ visionary corporates, 14+ restaurants ,many families and individuals.

13.What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
One of the initial challenges was on the business model itself. We started off as a talent discovery platform but realized that some level of discovery was already happening through Bollywood movies, Reality shows and the internet. Beyond the discovery, there was no consistent work for them (How many of us remember the Winner of Indian Idol 2, 3, 4 and onwards?) so we focused on solving this problem. We then thought of monetization through original songs of independent musicians but quickly realized that it would be a tall order for us at the start (or this phase of our company) itself to get consumers to pay for downloads. So we focused on what we new best – creating live experiences through music.

We overcame the challenge by deeply thinking about our assumptions, looking at the data and then making unbiased decisions based on what we saw. At times, our teams had very intense discussions on the business model itself but we stuck to do what was right for the firm in the long term. We avoided getting into the rat race of raising capital and to show the world that we had raised so much capital and that we had so many artists without actually building a robust business model. Instead we chose to focus on building a real business and perfecting our business model.

14.What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
The toughest challenge I’ve faced as a woman entrepreneur was in maintaining a balance between home and work. I have been fortunate enough not to have major hurdles where running a business is concerned, because I’ve been from a business background, I know how a business works. Even staying at home and running the house was also equally tough because Shaan was travelling, I have two kids, I have a mother-in-law, and there was a whole balance between Shaan’s hectic schedule and house schedule. But I think the toughest thing that I’ve probably ever faced is a dilemma within me, whether I’m doing enough for home or enough for office. But I think that will constantly happen and I will have to constantly learn to face it. I’ve had tremendous meltdowns in the past, but I’ve learned. Shaan’s goodwill actually made it so much easier; he’s actually made a blueprint for Happydemic’s success. Topped with Amar’s support where the numbers are concerned, he’s been in the financial stream for over 15 years himself.  We’ve got a foot in the door rather easily than most other companies have and I can’t deny that.

15.Are you married, single or in a relationship?
I’m married to Shaan

16.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
​My hobby is to cook. I’m fond of reading and I love music. In my non work time you’ll find me with a glass of wine, cooking a great meal in the kitchen.

17.Whats your favorite food & holiday destination?
I love Japanese food. My favourite holiday destination would be Portugal or the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

18.Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
​My idols would be Chanda Koshal and Indra Nooyi. They brilliantly manage their career and home life and they’re a woman of substance.
My biggest motivator would be my husband Shaan and my children. In fact,when Happydemiccompleted a year few days back, the trust and the validation that my son put on me was something that really motivated me to do better

19.What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Entrepreneurs have a distinct quality about themselves. They have a unique sense of persuasion. They have the ability to thrive in uncertainties and a passionate desire to author their own projects. These are some of the qualities that differentiates an entrepreneur from someone who works under someone else.

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20.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
​Actually I’ve just started my career, so I wouldn’t want it to be any different. I sat at home for 14 years taking care of my kids. finally I stepped out 2 years back. I’m at the beginning of my career and I don’t think I would want to change that or do anything about it differently. Whatever mistakes I’ve made, I’ve not only owned them but I’ve learnt to move up and forward  from them.

21.How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
Initially it would be very difficult I was always torn between the house and work it got actually quite difficult for me to manage because I have always been a hands-on mom and have been sitting at home for the past 13 years till one day I realised how well Shaan balances his personal and professional life and I mirrored that. There are 24 hours in a day and I decided to plan everything well in advance. I have from kitchen menu to meetings of the day, everything is planned well and I make sure that I stick to a schedule of the day. I actually imagine my entire day and I see whether it is practical for me to fit in the kind of things I want to do that day. It’s not so, then I give the things that need to be done priority. From kitchen menu to meeting schedule, chats of the kids’ extracurricular activities, car pool, even a date with Shaan …everything is planned! I have things to do notes all over my cabin in office and on the fridge in my kitchen.The only thing I have stopped doing is go to ‘show your face’ kind of parties. I really don’t have time to socialise that much and the time that I have, I rather spend it with close family and friends.

22.Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
I’d like to tell young entrepreneurs that there is no substitution for hard work and focus. Always remember to make sure, whatever you do, you have the right team because in any kind of business individuals don’t win, teams do!

23.Tell us something about your education & family background.
I grew up in a typical Punjabi joint family with my 3 sisters (my real sister and 2 cousins). Our parents raised us like boys, where right from climbing building walls to riding a 2 wheeler (which we would sneak out at night) we have had a fun childhood. My grandma, mom and chachi were the homemakers and papa and chacha were the bread earners. We had 3 bedrooms and 10 of us living under one roof.  We went to jamunabaiNarsee School together and completed our higher education also from; NarseeMonjee College of Economics which was just 6 building away. I was a complete juhu girl.

24.What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains.
Our USP is our ability to build and deliver creative solutions and experiences for Corporates and Families/Individuals. We have done an internal talent show for a MNC across India (at a fraction of the cost and with absolute high quality). We have delivered high quality Jingles in just 2 days. Team Happydemic is the right blend of following skills (creative + business + execution) and we are fortunate to have such passionate team members on board who have developed superb Products and IPs. Additionally, we already have a bank of 800+ Songs that we could use for fresh content and so on.

25. What do you think is the biggest threat to the success of small businesses & Start-ups today?
The biggest problem would be cash borrowing and resource management. Like they say Cash is King and a healthy profit may look good on your financial statement but if your capital expenditure or receivable collections are draining on your cash you won’t be able to sustain in the business for long.

26. Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
I wouldn’t say I consider myself successful at such an early stage. I’d say I’m taking the company in the right direction to be successful. I would measure professional success on if I would be able to make money for my external and internal stakeholders. Personal success would be the various events that I plan to do for the day are just not only accomplished but are accomplished well and I can hit the pillow in good sleep.

27.Please share complete name, address, phone number, email id & website of Your Business & Contact Person.
Happydemic
Address: B-401 Sunvision Classic Building, Hanuman Road, Vile Parle East, Mumbai 400 057.
Contact Number: 9819903739
Email Id: [email protected]
Website: www.happydemic.com

 

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