There’s an old saying that attributes “necessity” as the mother of invention. It may have been true before the first industrial revolution and the introduction of machines and automation, but the maxim has undoubtedly run its course. Many now have their necessities covered thanks to modern technology and processes, so “desire” may be a more appropriate word to replace necessity. At least that has been my experience. I’ll explain: I’ve always enjoyed watching live sports.
I’ve traveled across the world, going to live events; Manchester United cricket matches at Old Trafford, Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and FIFA World Cup are a few favorites. Being at live events is an awesome experience, but it got me thinking (back in 2014) that it would be even better to have access to the highlights and memorable moments with specific players, which cannot be captured by memory. As far as I knew, nothing existed that allowed sports fans to watch only the clips they wanted, so I began thinking the solution myself. Hence, an invention born of desire.
In particular, desire plays a pivotal role for startups, as the entrepreneur’s journey comes with twists and turns, and you need the extra driving force to succeed. When we launched Magnifi (formerly Toch.ai), the team realized that the sports content market was tougher to crack because there are content rights and other things involved. It’s not easy to get around these things, especially without heavy cash flow; acquiring content rights is an expensive proposition. So, understanding this, we began to build a solution that could be used by every single player, including content rights holders, sports teams, sports players, sports federations, leagues and everyone involved in the supply chain.
In a short period of time, we’ve made great strides. I attribute much of this success to a bright and passionate team and my work with startups early in my career. I majored in engineering and received my MBA from London Business School, at which time people in the entrepreneur division of the program were starting companies. The college was renowned for helping and encouraging students, helping them get funded, etc. It was exciting, but I still wasn’t clear about what I wanted to do.
I just wanted to make enough money to pay off my education loan—which I did before joining a venture capital firm. From there, I moved on to help startups create business plans, expansion plans and figure out what was and wasn’t working. This experience with “fixing” things helped me identify the gap in the media industry: the lack of automation to create short-form content for multiple formats. In the music industry, Musical.ly (now Tik Tok) focused on enabling platforms users to create short lip-sync or dance video clips and post the same content to various. My eureka moment was connecting that concept to sports content.
I am often asked to advise about starting and running a new-age tech media company, but I hesitate because there’s no one path, and the entrepreneur journey never ends. It’s more about following a passion and sticking with it. Of course, there will be many mistakes made along the way. These mistakes help define a better way forward. So, it’s important to learn from them.
In this regard, I tend to analyze and take notes. I have documented these learnings with a list of bullet points on a simple Excel spreadsheet. Every time I think I am off track, I refer to the list. If it’s there, I know I need to regroup and take a different course of action. It keeps me from repeating the unnecessary. In regard to our successes, it is just the opposite. Repeat what works. This applies to any industry.
Our strategy was clearly demonstrated while working with one of the leading national sports associations. We landed the partnership by reaching out directly and having a solid pitch. Once they bought our solution, we ensured optimized delivery on every aspect of the scope. When you look after your clients, they become your advocates and help you grow through their network. That’s how aggressively we can expand. And this same approach can be repeated again and again in different sports such as tennis, Formula 1 racing, etc. Approach. Pitch. Deliver. Network. Repeat. Of course, there’s more to it than what meets the eye.
Considering the desire factor is paramount; What are the potential partner’s desired goals and outcomes? Being confident about one’s offerings—in this case, VideoVerse’s Magnifi technology—and demonstrating a genuine passion for it will go a long way in building partnerships and a business that will last. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to raise more than $50 million since October 2021. While businesses may have needs, today’s customers and consumers have desires. And those who can meet those desires with innovation will possess the winning formula.
Written by Vinayak Shrivastav.
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