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BW Businessworld

Breaking Barriers, Again and Again

One of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country, Shabir Momin doesn’t believe in resting on his laurels

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At a time when  his peers were chalking out their future prospects, Shabir Momin had already assumed charge, becoming the youngest CTO of a global company.

Momin always had a knack for identifying new opportunities with technology as his core passion. The bouquet of his achievements includes building Zenga TV, the largest OTT service in the country; One Digital Entertainment, the largest digital content company;, an online trading platform and two crowd funding platforms Desiredwings and Catapoolt.

The upsurge in the digital content consumption was well anticipated by Momin, who launched his most successful venture Zenga TV, a mobile TV service with live video streaming for TV channels, entertainment and reality shows and news content, back in 2009.

In fact, the concept of watching cricket matches live on mobile was Momin’s brainchild and  Zenga TV became the exclusive mobile, live video streaming provider for IPL T20 in 2009 where Zenga streamed matches live and managed delivery across 140 countries. This at a time when videos on mobile were still struggling to gain traction.

“Videos were not happening at that time due to multiple reasons such as bandwidth problems, phone memory and others. We developed a new technology, which could stream at a lower bandwidth,” explains Momin, who was able to crack the technology code after two years of intense hard work and formed the company to build a consumer focussed brand.

Momin was soon to realise that subscription was not the right game to survive in this business. So, he moved towards a profitable advertising-based model, despite facing criticism. He later launched One Digital Entertainment, bringing together 1,900 content creators and partners, which further led to artist and celebrity management. Momin then launched, putting 20-odd digital products under a single roof. New modules and concepts are constantly being added in this space everyday, to help the video ecosystem grow.

“I am trying to build a full lifecycle business. While we have our own production houses, distribution, OTT services, we also work with Zenga’s competitors in various services like Saavn, Hungama, YouTube and Facebook,” says Momin. “Therefore, everything starting from content creation to distribution, monetisation, analytics, we are doing on our own, while also partnering with others,” he says. Through these ventures Momin is also giving comfort to his competitors by giving them both partnership and competition within different businesses.

Indeed, the entrepreneur’s track record is impressive and inspiring.  So, what drives Momin? It is his hunger to excel and his past experience. For instance, before turning a full-fledged entrepreneur, Momin held top leadership positions in companies across the globe and successfully strategised the launch of new technologies not only in the Indian market but also around the world. His talent lies in identifying the gaps in the market and tapping opportunities with innovative products.  

Momin has a unique way to keeping himself motivated. He constantly keeps himself in the startup mode, despite having created 24 businesses so far. He keeps 20 days to review his existing businesses and the remaining 10 days for new opportunities.

“While one business is growing and becoming profitable, I would have already started something else and would again enter the startup mode, facing all sorts of struggles,” explains Momin (40) about his drive to do more. “Therefore, no matter how much money my one business is making, the new business would always make me feel I don’t have money. That hunger helps you create and innovate,” he says.

So, what is Momin’s next big disruption? “Content as a format of video will continue to remain as the king. However, the engagement models would change. Chatbots are the next big disruption in the market which would replace the existing websites and mobile applications.”

Growth potential: With upsurge in Internet speed and smartphone penetration, OTT space seems to grow at a pace of 35-40 per cent y-o-y growth. Frost & Sullivan says OTT video market was nearly $210 million in 2016, driven by advertising and is likely to grow at a CAGR of over 80 per cent till 2020.