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What Led Head Of Xbox In India To Become A Standup Comedian?
As absurd as it may sound, this is a true story of a top corporate honcho who has quit his job to follow his dream.
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Believe your eyes. You have read the headline right. As difficult as it may be to believe, Anshu Mor, former head of Xbox division for Microsoft India has indeed left his swanky corporate job to become a standup comedian. But don’t mistake him for the typical corporate tech geek bored at his job. He clarifies he enjoyed every bit of his job at Microsoft but he just wanted to follow his passion.
As a child, Anshu has always been attracted to the stage – from debates to dramas – he loved to be on stage in the spotlight. In the last 3-4 years of his career in Microsoft, Anshu was at the centre stage at all corporate events. He calls himself the “in-house emcee.” This perhaps further fuelled his passion and made him realise his potential even more. It was in the last two years of his corporate career that he started to get that typical feeling of an entrepreneur, “Why not try that?”
All these years, Anshu focussed on Microsoft Xbox, a video game console device that competes with other popular gaming platforms like Nintendo's Wii and Sony’s PlayStation. Today he is a standup comedian. There almost seems nothing common between the two roles except that both involve “entertainment”.
So, what made him to finally take the plunge and resign? Anshu says it’s the Imtiaz Ali-directed Bollywood movie ‘Tamasha’ which revolved around the journey of someone who has lost his edge in trying to adhere to the socially acceptable norms of the society. Right after watching the movie, he asked his wife if he should “just go for it” and his wife’s go-ahead did the magic. “The next day I resigned. It was that simple,” he says.
As most entrepreneurs would agree, starting a business isn’t easy. Likewise, Anshu had to find ways to create a business model and a revenue stream. As one would expect from a former corporate leader like him, he did make a business plan and strategy to get his feet on the ground. “But ignorance is what worked for me,” he says. He didn’t really know how this whole business of selling comedy content worked. So, one fine day, he walked up to a comedy club to request a slot for a show and he just got lucky, he says.
After that, things just fell in place for him. He got his first solo slot in 10 months and he says he is possibly the fastest growing comedian in the country. Given his strong corporate experience, predictably, he gets a significant portion of his business from corporate shows and the others from public events.
Today, he has formally launched a company known as ‘Talking Mime’ that has expanded beyond the stage and provides digital content and storytelling workshops focussed on humor and comedy.
One would be curious if the head of Xbox in India is having to compromise financially for his passion but Anshu confidently says he is earning more money now than he used to at Microsoft. He attributes a lot of this to the increased demand for standup comedy in India in the recent years.
What keeps him awake at night? Initially he did have to mull over where to find his next show or slot. Now that the basics are in place, he spends time thinking “what next” and where to take his business from here on.
Unlike a typical startup, Anshu says it’s not possible to share metrics like revenue targets as the pricing is dynamic and changes based on the popularity of his shows. Currently, he averages 18 shows per month where the duration of each show is about 30 minutes to an hour. His aim is to eventually look at doing lesser number of shows but larger and high-value ones. He also aims to target the millennials by creating content for Amazon and Netflix in the coming days.