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BW Businessworld

We Are Transforming The Media Ecosystem With Blockchain

Media innovations drive the economy, shape culture and define our world view. Media tech companies that show the promise of democratising entertainment and increase digital adoption are slated to grow the fastest, shares Vikram Tanna, COO, Mzaalo, in this conversation with BW Businessworld. Excerpts:

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What is your take on the priority order that media tech startups in India take from an investor’s perspective?

It is a golden era for tech platforms with startup funding in the first half this year crossing the full year funding for last year. Media tech has become an imperative part of the India strategy with 1.5 billion digital screens promise. Post-pandemic, while we have seen a significant shift towards digital in media consumption and revenue, it will catapult over the next five years with new technologies and changes in consumer behaviour transforming the ecosystem; with the media tech startups of today becoming giants of tomorrow.
 
Among the media startups that have attracted investments, do you see any underlying characteristic? Is there a type of media startup that attracts more attention?

Media innovations drive the economy, shape culture and define our world view. Media tech companies that show the promise of democratising entertainment and increase digital adoption are slated to grow the most. The world of M&A is getting replaced by the world of P&A — partnerships and alliances — with the two becoming critical for success and scale up. The integration of content and commerce ecosystems holds a great growth opportunity.
 
What are the factors that come together to continue to propel the growth of the media sector in India?

I strongly believe the combination of pricing, technology, democratising content access and distribution of value will drive the growth of the media tech companies. Leveraging technology to enhance and personalise user experience, creating mass scale adoption at speed is a must. Blockchain use cases in the media ecosystem will lead to a complete overhaul where consumers and creators will develop a democratic ecosystem driving distribution of value creation rather than it being centralised to certain entities.
 
How are you seeing consumer behaviour change on the whole that is fuelling the growth of media startups?

There is clearly a pre-Covid and post-Covid era; the mobile screen has completely taken over consumer mindshare. Consumer behaviour is getting dictated by individual preferences, attention spans have reduced and engagement is fragmented with a plethora of choices. For media companies, this means personalisation, development of new formats, distribution and partnership with other platforms. Consumers are moving towards expression of individuality and they expect platforms to offer personalised, on-demand, immediate and equitable formats, leading to the need of startups which have the requisite mindset and culture to cater to this new Indian consumer.
 
What should media-tech startups do to scale up their operations?

Consumer obsession should be the stepping stone to scale up. Create products that consumer love, while driving growth with referrals and word of mouth. Startups need to leverage social media for growth hacking. Data science is a crucial tool to build consumer communities around unique sharper data sets with personalised and automated product experiences. Most importantly, the hiring culture should boost experimentation, bold risks, imagination, and failure acceptance for startups to scale up. Staying laser focused on achieving goals is imperative to success.
 
What are some of your growth strategies for 2021 and ahead?

At Xfinite, we are committed to redefining the future of on-demand digital entertainment for the next generation digital media apps (dApps). We offer a blockchain-based solution powered by Algorand to ensure transparency and re-establish trust between consumers, content creators and publishers.

Mzaalo, a gamified video streaming service, is the first dApp on Xfinite. We are building a social entertainment commerce platform with our strategy centred around immersive content experience and gratification. Our blockchain-based reward ecosystem values users’ time and attention, and provides consumers with celebrity experiences, digital goods and rewards across 600-plus brands. We have partnered with established platforms like Eros Now, Dailyhunt and SpiceJet to drive innovation and reach. Mzaalo has been selected by Micorsoft as part of the Scaleup Program.
 
What is the primary revenue driver for your company? And how do you plan to augment this going ahead?

We are transforming the media ecosystem with blockchain use cases and creating new formats of content distribution and monetisation. The primary revenue driver for our company is the ability to delight consumers and constant innovation around that. We believe in bringing alive the proposition of “Content drives Commerce” -- contextual content, immersive brand-user experience, and interactivity with digital goods on blockchain coupled with high consumer watch time and engagement fuels our growth.