Established by Parth Saxena and Nikhil Kapur, TommyJams addresses a key pain point for those in the live entertainment industry by connecting venues with artists and performers. In the short span of a year and a half, they have worked with over 1500 artists and 200+ venues across 7 cities.
Their vision is to revolutionise the music industry by leveraging innovative technology and solutions to streamline a largely disorganised industry. We chat with Parth about the venture. An Excerpt from the Interview:
• What made you start your venture?
Both Nikhil and I have been into developing world-class technology for many years now. In parallel, I have served as a musician and have also worked on the business development activities of The Raghu Dixit Project, one of India’s leading contemporary bands. Nikhil has had keen interest in events and concerts over the past few years.
One fine day, when we were enjoying a concert at Hard Rock Café, Hyderabad, the idea of TommyJams suddenly struck us. We realized that it was really difficult to for artists and venues to book each other for events, and we also understood that there is no proper way for the city audience to know about the most suitable events happening in the city.
The way in which the live entertainment industry functioned seemed a bit messy to us – lacking professionalism and having huge dependence on personal networks which took a lot of time and effort to establish. So, we thought about a technology solution that could make the system more credible, flexible, transparent and scalable.
We thought this would allow artists and venues to easily reach out to a wider network across cities and countries, book each other for events and allow fans to stay tuned with the best events happening in the city. This is how TommyJams started. It made us bring together two of our dearest passions – technology and music.
• What has been the key to your business’s success? I think a lot of hard work has gone into building TommyJams to what it stands for today. We have had a great team work tirelessly over time and we are fortunate to have stuck together in times of turbulence.
But the key lies in the effort and time we have devoted to building what we believed in – right from understanding the market to designing and developing technology to acquiring and satisfying customers to scaling and gaining more traction. The journey has been very challenging, but incredible.
• What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
Firstly, we bootstrapped the company with just $300. So, the initial few months involved a lot of struggle. We had to sacrifice many things to reduce our costs so we could work on building the company for a longer period of time. Over time, we started generating revenues and people started seeing a value in TommyJams. Since then, we have continued to maintain good focus on our vision and have used our resources, in terms of time/effort/money, responsibly and diligently.
Once the company started growing, we needed more quality people in the team. With limited capital, it was hard to get the best people work with us. As the entrepreneurship ecosystem established, we saw more people believing in what we did and wanting to work with us. This led to having a brilliant team of employees and interns work together to execute our vision.
Another challenge we faced was related to scaling. As we worked on building a global presence, we had to start to delve into understanding different markets, cultures and languages. Much effort still goes into deep-diving into the ground-level details of what happens in a particular market (city/country/economy) and how can our technology solve things for the better.
• Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business? We are fortunate to have had amazing people interested to advise us on a regular basis. We incubated at Stanford University’s Venture Lab, accelerated at the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator and are now going global through the Startup Chile program. Each ecosystem has provided us with world-class mentors who continue to help us on a regular basis.
• Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
We build web/mobile/cloud based solutions. Microsoft Ventures has played a crucial role in providing us with technology infrastructure. Microsoft Bizspark and Windows Azure have proved to be very useful to us. We also have mobile-based solutions coming up in partnership with Microsoft and Nokia. As we scale and expand, we will be looking into more potential technology platform partnerships to build world-class technology.
• What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
We make it a point to interact with our customers and take constructive feedback on a regular basis. If something needs to improve, we make a focused effort to achieve the same. Our contact information is accessible on the website for anyone to be able to reach out to us easily.
But despite of all that, our primary emphasis is to always provide best quality services in the industry so that the customers realize a genuine value in working with us. Our creative and technical expertise keep innovating methods through which TommyJams can serve the live entertainment industry in the best possible way.
• What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I think the first and foremost thing to build a successful company is true passion. You’ve got to be genuinely passionate about what you are building and how it will change things for the better.
This is the one thing that will keep you going through the ups and downs of running a startup. In addition to that, an entrepreneur must have a nature to collaborate with like-minded people. This involves good communication and leadership skills. No one can build and scale an organization by themselves. You’ve got to believe in what you do, be open to other’s opinions on the same and be able to align with them to proceed forward.
The first two are mostly soft skills. But, according to me, they lie on top of quality core technical/management skills. An entrepreneur must understand the details of the product/service that the startup builds, the market it aims to capture and the strategy behind the business.
This is extremely crucial, especially in the initial phases of a startup when the team strength is small and the resources are limited. Learn more about TommyJams: www.tommyjams.com/ Like them on Facebook: TommyJams