How Mitron has been bridging the gap between skilled based Indian creators & consumers
While the global pandemic has bought economies to a halt and massively disrupted businesses, it has also fuelled start-up dreams and we even saw several Indian start-ups achieve Unicorn status during the pandemic period. The times have never been better for the budding entrepreneurs to give wings to their start-up dreams.
The Government, too, has come up with various schemes to support its ‘Vocal for Local’ drive. A case in point is the recent Rs 1,000 crore Start-up India Seed Fund announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Start-up India International Summit 2021 held earlier this year.
Adgully is turning the spotlight on the entrepreneurs who fought against all odds to bring their dreams to fruition in our special series – START-UP STARS. We at Adgully wholeheartedly support the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement and over the next few months will be featuring all local/ homegrown businesses, brands and Apps.
In conversation with Adgully, Shivank Agarwal, CEO & Co-founder, Mitron, speaks at length about how the short video app has been bridging the gap between skilled based Indian creators and consumers. Agarwal shares several interesting insights into the creation of Mitron, building a team of passionate, like-minded people who are not risk averse, and much more.
Please take us through your journey as an entrepreneur. What motivated you to establish your start-up? What were you doing prior to turning an entrepreneur?
I did my graduation in 2011 from IIT Roorkee in computer science. With close to 10 years of experience, I have worked in tech companies such as Makemytrip, Adobe, etc. This isn’t my first foray into the world of entrepreneurship. My first start-up was an online video assistant called Buffer Infinite, which provided facilities like subtitles for YouTube videos. I had started another start-up called OyoFit, in the fitness domain. We partnered with over 250 fitness clubs in Bangalore and created a single package for consumers to get access to the fitness clubs. I am pleased to share that OyoFit was later acquired by Gympik.
I met Anish during my stint with Makemytrip in 2016. Since then, Anish and I have been working together on different projects.
What need gap did you want to fulfil with your start-up? What is the core business proposition?
Today, there are a plethora of platforms available for short video/ snackable entertainment, with little focus on quality content. Also, in early March and April when people were finding ways to be connected, there was no dedicated Indian social media app for Indians. Understanding the demand in short video social media space for quality videos and community engagement, I and Anish launched Mitron TV to fill the gap between skilled based Indian creators and consumers. Mitron TV is an Indian online community of like-minded people based on skill and talent.
How did you identify your TG? Did you carry out any feasibility study prior to starting your business?
The idea arose during the initial phase of the lockdown, when people were finding a source of entertainment and finding ways to be connected with their loved ones and be engaged through various skills. Understanding the market gap, we realised there was no Indian platform available to serve the Indian audience. We went ahead and launched the beta version of the app. Within seven days of the launch, users started asking for an ‘upload’ feature. Soon, the demand for a ‘support’ feature followed.
We were seeing very dynamic reactions from users. People gave us information about the missing features and bugs on the platform. And as soon as we solved it, we saw that the usage of the app increased rapidly. Hence, before even finalising the target audience, we already had users across the length and breadth of the nation.
What were the challenges that you faced in your start-up journey and how did you overcome them?
For me, 2020 will always be an eventful year. In the midst of a global pandemic, I and my friend and ex-Makemytrip colleague Anish Khandelwal came together to found Mitron. As you can well imagine, starting a business in such difficult times came with its fair share of challenges. As I made my journey from an engineer to an entrepreneur, my immediate priority was to build a rock solid team in a short duration of time as the market was changing rapidly. We also had to learn how to meet the users’ expectations in a very short span of time. The entire phase was overwhelming, but also rewarding. I learnt that the solution to both these challenges was to continuously attract like-minded people who complement you and are not risk averse. I am proud to say that we grew our team from 2 people to a head-count of 40 people, who are as passionate about the business as I am. I personally learnt and unlearnt many aspects of working and routine life. There is always an opportunity to do something only if we are determined to take that first step. That is when the real journey commences.
What were the clearances that you required for your venture from various authorities?
Registration of the company is very straight forward and fast process nowadays and we didn’t face any difficulty. Some of the registrations included – Company Registration, GST registrations, Registration under Start-up India.
Prime Minister Modi recently announced a Start-up India Seed Fund. How do you see start-ups benefiting from it?
The initiative by honourable PM Modi for Start-up India Seed Fund is a great step in the right direction. Start-ups would definitely benefit by using the fund to create IPs and processes to solve problems specific to India in a true manner.
How is digital helping you further your business?
Through the digital medium, everything can be quantified in terms of engagement, experiments, user reaction, etc. With digital evolution and everything moving digital it has become one of the most important sources of user engagement.
What were your key learnings from 2020? How do you see the start-up ecosystem progressing in 2021?
The year 2020 has been a teacher for me, which has put me into different unknown territories and has shaped me as a fighter. Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems. From building a strong team of 40+ to bringing multiple VCs on board to fighting different accusations and challenges. 2020 has made me always look out for solutions to the problems at hand.
Many start-ups bloomed in 2020, and 2021 will be no different. Today, more and more people are moving to app-based solutions either for education, groceries, e-commerce, knowledge sharing or entertainment. I personally believe, technology will only help us to grow economically and making our stand stronger in the worldwide tech ecosystem.
What would be your message for budding entrepreneurs?
An entrepreneur should have a thorough understanding of the industry, whilst studying the challenges and potential opportunities associated with it. Examining and knowing your competition helps to formulate a strategy and efficiently execute it. Also, my biggest advice would be to surround yourself with the right people. It is imperative to continuously attract like-minded people who complement you and are not risk averse. The right team can prove to be the best asset to any business.