Gokul Krishnamoorthy
Apr 11, 2015

Goafest 2015: ‘More companies die of indigestion than starvation’: Ashish Hemrajani

The founder of BookMyShow reflected on the ‘metrics of life’ on day two

Goafest 2015: ‘More companies die of indigestion than starvation’: Ashish Hemrajani
“Valuations will come and go. We are the flavour of the season today so you have called me here. That will also go – two years later there will be someone else here (speaking to the audience). But the metrics of life are important. It’s not (just) about how much money you are making,” said founder and director of Big Tree Entertainment Ashish Hemrajani, addressing delegates at a Knowledge Seminar on day two of Goafest 2015, presented by SureWaves. Big Tree Entertainment runs movie and event ticket booking site BookMyShow.com.
The 17-year-old company clocked Rs 1700 crore in revenue and is set to touch Rs 2400 crore, revealed the speaker, while underlining the values on which the company has been built.
The team of 800 now was 150 once. It came down to six people sometime in 2002, when the company ran out of money. Until then, it delivered the tickets physically upon orders placed with a call centre, with a cash-on-delivery model.
The slump was when it reinvented itself and decided to invest in creating the ecosystem, revealed Hemrajani, who rebuilt the company after mortgaging his house and investing Rs 70 lakh in the business.
The adlander-turned entrepreneur noted that the toughest aspect of the downsizing to six people was in telling 143 people who had believed in the dream that they had to be let go of.
Its values are evident in the company’s staff retention and policies. The chief technology officer hasn’t had a formal education, but has been with the company for 15 years. The customer service head started off as a call centre agent, and today manages a team of 170 people. Two heads of operations have been with the company for 12 years. The company’s warehouse manager used to be an office boy.
Observing that these were the real metrics of life, Hemrajani underlined that Big Tree hasn’t ‘imported people from outside’. While those with designations of AGM and higher are served lunch at Rs 120 at the office, DGMs and their juniors pay Rs 60. The rest of the staff pay just Rs 20, a figure subsidised by senior colleagues.
BookMyShow covers 220 cities and towns across India now and will expand to 500 cities this year, disclosed Hemrajani.
The e-Commerce bubble
Asked when the e-Commerce bubble would burst, the speaker said, “In 12 to 18 months, there is going to be a significant pull back. Money is drying up already as we speak. But every time the tide pulls back, we hire talent and look at acquiring companies.”
Pointing to some of the e-Commerce businesses, he surmised, “More companies die of indigestion than starvation.” 
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