"I am a happy entrepreneur. I have taken my risks and chased my dreams." -Radhakrishnan Ramachandran, Pepper Media
Pepper Media is a technology-driven digital media company founded by Radhakrishnan Ramachandran in the year 2013. Pepper Media aims to be the largest independent online video production and distribution hub in India, bringing together content creators, producers, celebrities and brands to build sustainable and monetizable global audiences.
Radhakrishnan Ramachandran also co-founded iStream.com and India Syndicate in the year 2008 and 2000 respectively prior to starting up with Pepper Media. He has completed his engineering in Instrumentation Technology from Mysore University in the year 1990.
Read the following interview to know more about Radhakrishnan, his first startup iStream, what led him to start up with Pepper Media, his greatest achievement, the single most important reason for his success and a lot more! Read on!
C:E Hello Radhakrishnan. Could you give our readers a brief overview of Pepper Media?
Radhakrishnan: Pepper Media (www.peppermedia.in) is a technology-driven digital media company backed by the founders of iStream.com and India Syndicate. We aim to be the largest independent online video production and distribution hub in India. As part of this endeavor, we are in the process of building the largest multi-channel network (MCN) for online videos out of India, bringing together content creators, producers, celebrities and brands to build sustainable and monetizable global audiences. While we will have a YouTube-first strategy for the next 12-months, we will also partner with other online platforms to distribute and monetize our content.
CE: How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
Radhakrishnan: I started my career as a media professional and had the opportunity to work with leading brands like Economic Times and CNBC TV18. It was the dot com boom of late 90's that also made me an entrepreneur. Having worked in broadcast and print media, I could see that digital was the future. You had hundreds of Internet cos setting up shop and there was a huge demand for compelling content. I launched my first company India Syndicate in 2000 along with my wife, who was also a media professional - the aim was to set up a marketplace for quality content across multiple genres.
CE: How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started?
Radhakrishnan: It has not changed. I am equally if not more, excited about starting my third venture as I was when I started in 2000. It is not just about raising venture capital and having an exit. While that is important, it is equally important doing what you are happy about. For me, the goal is still to build a lasting consumer digital media brand. The story that was cut short in the case of istream.com, I want to make that happen with my new venture.
CE: Could you please tell our readers about iStream? What led to the start of Pepper Media?
Radhakrishnan: I launched iStream.com in early 2012 as a premium online video destination after raising $ 5 million from SAIF partners.The goal was to build an online video product which would be India's answer to Hulu and Netflix. iStream went on to become the largest homegrown online video portal clocking over 6 million unique users and 12 million video views on a monthly basis by March 2013. Unfortunately the dream run was cut short when we failed to raise the second round of funding and I had to take the painful decision of shutting down the portal in May 2013. However, I continue to be a firm believer in the online video space and the potential it has, as a business opportunity. So Pepper Media was borne – as a full service online video production and distribution company to pursue this goal. I have put all my savings to make it happen.
CE: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Radhakrishnan: The fact that we had a pioneering role to play in building the online video ecosystem in the country. From being one of the largest partners for YouTube in the country in 2010, launching premium channels like Star Plus, Colors, MTV India, Times Now, Sun Network and a host of other top regional channels, to building the country's premier Video on Demand destination, iStream.com, we have seen it all in the past 7 years. We have also partnered with all leading platforms like Yahoo, MSN and Sify to launch their video initiatives.
CE: What is the single most important reason for your success?
Radhakrishnan: I am not sure whether I can call myself a successful entrepreneur. But I am a happy entrepreneur. I have taken my risks and chased my dreams. I am extremely passionate about the digital media space and that is what has kept me going.
CE: How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
Radhakrishnan: Me and my wife started our first company, India Syndicate way back in 2000. We are both media professionals-turned entrepreneurs. She is currently running India Syndicate and completely understands the pulls and pressures that running a company brings in. However, I also love the flexibility that 'being on your own' brings to your life and that has helped me spend more time with my family. As for friends, I have always found time to spent time with my friends. So nothing much to complain about.
CE: What popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
Radhakrishnan: Nothing in particular. The success of a venture and your ability to raise money to a large extent is also about the right timing, so if you want to become an entrepreneur, there is no better time than now to become one.
CE: Thank you for the time you have spent with us. Any message for our readers?
Entrepreneurship is not just about raising money from VCs. It is about doing what you are passionate about, chasing your dreams and being happy doing that.