At the young age of 26, Advait Gupt chose to do something that only few people can even dare to think about. Quitting the rat race is never an easy decision and enduring the unforgiving pressures of entrepreneurship is even tougher. Advait chose to remain unfazed in both these cases and today his daring entrepreneurial spirit is helping his 6.5 years old Supari Studios to conquer new horizons of success.
Founded in 2012 along with his brother Akshat, Supari Studios is a digital content studio that creates highly unique video contents for innovative brands. Their videos are especially targeted at the millennials who are today happily lapping up creative and immersive digital contents on their smartphones and laptops.
In the span of last six years, Supari Studios has undeniably played a critical role in redefining the entertainment landscape for the millennials. in the process it has also won the much deserved international acclimation by creating top notch online video contents for the likes of Warner Bros, Red Bull, YouTube, Nike and Dolby. And to top it all, last year Supari Studios won the prestigious Webby Award for their Red Bull series Doppelgangers. To put things in little perspective here, Webby Award is widely hailed as the Oscars in field of digital arts and internet. Among its other success, Supari Studios’ Dua Lipa’s song – New Rules (created for Warner Bros) – have garnered over 4.2 million views till now and 300,000 within its first 24 hours.
With quite a few feathers in its cap, today Advait Gupt is more than glad of not being the part of the ever growing rat race. Techpluto caught up with this young entrepreneur in an exclusive interview as he shed light on various aspects with regards to his young company and Over-the-top (OTT) media industry.
You started Supari Studios in 2012 when there was virtually no buzz about the Over-the-top (OTT) media platforms. How did you spot the opportunity in digital content space so early on?
At 26, I quit my job as an investment analyst at a venture capital firm. After having spent over 5 years in investment management, I realized that in order to truly understand a business from ground-up, I needed to get my hands dirty. Akshat, my younger brother, who was 22 at that time, had just returned from film school and was freelancing with a bunch of advertising agencies and production companies, but was struggling to find people who took him seriously.
I had spent some time in my finance job studying the digital space, while Akshat was looking for opportunities where he could channelize his creative energies. We started to recognise a significant shift in content consumption habits (not only among ourselves, but among our friends and people around us). We saw a shift from a prime time television viewing experience, to an anytime, anywhere mobile viewing experience – supplemented with platforms that enhance this experience like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Whatsapp. So, I guess, it was a mix of some good timing and a little bit of curiosity around where this space was headed.
Take us through the experience of shooting the Red Bull’s Doppelgangers series, which won the prestigious Webby People’s Voice Award last year?
From the early days of Supari Studios, we always looked up to the cutting edge work that Red Bull produced in the content space, globally. So when we finally got our foot in the door, we knew we had to raise the bar. Fortunately, for us, we found an awesome (and very supportive) team at Red Bull India, that was looking to create some game changing content that showcased India’s diverse talent. The project was produced over 4 months in late 2017, where we documented the stories of three Red Bull supported contemporary art forms and juxtaposed them with their traditional Indian counterparts and thus called the show, Doppelgangers.
Winning a prestigious award like Webby, which is considered as Oscars of the internet, must be a great milestone moment for your company?
Yes, it was exciting, humbling and very inspiring. Over the past 18 months, we have been lucky to have produced several such projects and are hopeful that this work and the recognition that it receives, will serve as a testament of the quality and depth of creative talent we currently have in this country.
There is lot of buzz in the media that Supari Studios is planning to create India’s first animated digital series for young adults. Can you please shed some light on this news report?
Last year, we ventured into setting up our original content division, Keeda – which is focused on creating content properties around the passions of young Indians. We launched with our first property, Vitamin Stree (www.youtube.com/vitaminstree), which is a content platform focused at reshaping the narrative for young women in India.
At VS, we focus on lesser spoken subjects that range from sex & sexuality to mental health and body image. The platform has grown over the past year and our content is currently viewed over 1.5m times each month. While, we continue to grow Vitamin Stree, we have developed a pipeline of newer IPs that we seek to launch in the next couple of years, one of which is an animated series that is a socio-political satire for young adults. It is currently in production and we are hoping to release it soon.
Apart from Red Bull, Supari Studios has also worked with big international clients like Warner Bros, YouTube, Nike and Dolby. How different or challenging it is to create digital content for an international clients as compared to the domestic clients?
Our experience working with global clients has been very positive. They have a keen eye for detail, focused on quality and push us to constantly raise the bar.
Now that OTT media platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime have gained significant traction in India, has the process of digital content creation undergone any change compared to the early days?
Netflix, Amazon Prime and Youtube are platforms that are helping open up the online video landscape in India. For content companies like us – they are more like partners who help distribute our content. Platforms such as these are enablers who are helping open up the market in India and giving content creators like us opportunity to telling the stories that need to be told. I think we are in exciting times.
When we started Supari Studios in late 2012, we used to tell people that we make video content for the mobile phone and people used to find it hard to take us seriously. Today that hypothesis has played out – led by several factors. Online video has grown at an unprecedented rate – the online video audience in India is estimated to grow to 500 million by 2020. So while this means increased competition – it also means massive demand – which creates its own share of challenges that we are gearing to deal with as we grow.
Since today most of the digital contents are consumed by millennials and the young crowd, keeping track record of their changing trends and strong social likes/dislikes must be integral part of your work profile?
Yes, it is. And that’s one of the many things that makes our work so exciting.
After seven long years of successful operation, is Supari Studios open for external funding or you’re happy to be a bootstrapped company?
We are on a mission to create a leading content studio that tells stories to make connections, influence action and inspire change. And most importantly, to have fun while doing it. As we look to scale in the next few years, we will explore opportunities to raise capital to help grow the business and strengthen our capabilities in the content space.
Where do you see Supari Studios in next 2-3 years in terms of growth as well as on the creative landscape?
Over the next few years, we will look to continue to focus on creating differentiated, immersive & scalable video content properties for innovative brands who seek to engage with Gen-Y and Gen-Z audiences online.
A piece of advice that you’d like to give to entrepreneurs who want to try their luck in digital content space?
We are in exciting times. The internet has given us a level playing field. While it is a challenging environment, there hasn’t been a better time to be a content creator. So make the stuff that gets you out of bed, focus on efficient ways to tell that story and come out and play.