A Journey to the Multi-Million Dollar Company – The Story of BookMyShow

There cannot be a better time to be alive. It was not long ago that our ancestors have to stand in long queues just to get tickets of their favorite movies. You’ll also find that just on arriving at the counter after a tiring wait, they would be shown the sign “houseful”.

Well, we have been the lucky generation as the only time we visit the theater is to watch the film and nothing else. The credit for these effortless movie watching experience goes to that one company which permanently changed the way the Indians book tickets.

Today, we take a look at the success story of online ticketing platform “BookMyShow” and how the mastermind behind the idea — Ashish Hemrajani, overcame obstacles. He turned his visions into a multi-million dollar company.bookmyshow logo png

Ashish Hemrajani completed his studying at Sydenham Institute of Management in Mumbai University. After studies, he started working with J. W. Thompson company. However, Ashish’s journey started in the year 1999 when he went in a trip to South Africa — a trip that changed his life forever.


Ideation

While he was sitting under a tree and listening to radio promoting Rugby tickets, an idea struck to his mind. He researched on his idea, understood the market and contemplated a strategy. He then came back to India, quit his job immediately and decided to start his own company. At the age of 24, he launched his first ever internet venture “Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.” with his head office being his bedroom. Soon after, he persuaded his friends Rajesh Balpande and Parikshit Dar to join the company. Parikshit took over technology and Rajesh handled finance. Soon the trio began their journey together as entrepreneurs and led the way forward for Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

As they had limited cash with them at that time, they started approaching investors. Now back those days, it wasn’t as easy as it is now to get investors. And as internet and technology were not prevalent it was even more difficult to present their proposal.

Well, after seeing their commitment towards their fair-faced idea, they got their first investor JP Morgan Chase and they got it by sending their proposal through fax.

After that they started their venture under the brand name “Go For Ticketing”. Which they later re-branded it to “India Ticketing” in 2002, before finally being called “BookMyShow”.

Now it wasn’t​ an easy task to sell tickets online during that time, as their were no credit cards, debit cards and net-banking penetration. Followed by poor broadband connectivity, lack of e-ticketing softwares in theaters and single screens. With 21 other competitors in the market, it became even more difficult task.

Well, Ashish literally bought tickets in bulk and sold it to customers by sending 100’s of people to deliver tickets in motor-bikes. Even with all the troubles, they were doing a good business and accounted for 150 employees.

Ashish Hemrajani with BookMyShow Co-Founders Rajesh Balpande and Parakshit Dar
Ashish Hemrajani with BookMyShow Co-founders Rajesh Balpande and Parakshit Dar

The Climax

And, then the unthinkable happened in 2002. The “.COM” market got busted and everyone in the industry, big or small faced the heat. It was even worse for the one’s which were new and “Big Tree Entertainment” was one among them. Their businesses went down to an all time low and all their investors pulled their hands back.

The situation was to cut expenses and they had to cut down employees salaries. They shut down all the office along with their operation and only focused on other major cities like Mumbai & Delhi. There team strength literally shrunk from 150 to 6. They had to tighten their business and it’s cost. And every rupee they earned​, they made sure to invest every single rupee into the business.

Slowly, the business went into the basics with no investors from 2002 to 2006. Their were times when they had absolutely no idea From where do the next meal would come from? How they will pay the current month salaries?

This fall made them realize a lot of things. It made them to see things very differently.

Well, there were only 2 options left for Ashish now — Either to shut the business down OR go with the jobs that were being offered to him by head hunters or keep hope in the business, invest all his savings and start all over again.


The Recovery

Ashish’s confidence was not completely lost and he decided to stick with the business only to do things a little differently and mind you smartly as well.

Without any fear the “trio” moved forward to build the business again and back to fix every broken piece.

Soon things started turning into their favour. After the “.COM” tsunami was gone, the market completely changed in India with better Internet, credit card and debit card facilities and the infrastructure was also improvised.

Between the years 2002 & 2004, the number of multiplexes across India also grew largely. Well, with desperation to get back onto their feet, they became software solution providers that sold automated ticketing softwares to these multiplexes.

Knowingly or Unknowingly they had a business model in place.

The company saw sudden rise in the business as the worth of company jumped from a close to NIL to 24.1 Crores valuation by 2007.

Well, at this point, they were set and ready. The environment had changed and it was now time for a big comeback.

The man who never gives up - BookMyshow - Ashish Hemrajani
Giving up? I didn’t hear about that word.

Finally…

Luck favoured them in March, 2007 when “Network 18” invested 14.5 Crores in their business, giving them a 60% stake in their business. Now “the boss” was back in the business and marked the perfect time to launch the ticketing business again. It gave birth to a never ending “BookMyShow.com“.

This time they were more prepared, cautious and organized. They kept on the ACs at 24°C and switched off the alternate bulbs, reused paper, pens, pins among others and saved money in every possible way.

BookMyShow quickly gained momentum and was literally everywhere. In fact they played so well that the Global Financial Crisis didn’t affect them too much. As a matter of fact, they hired some great talents during the Global Financial Crisis and from there on there was no stopping to the success of BookMyShow.

BookMyShow made sure that it secured itself in every possible way and that their reach is beyond limits.

Following the same theory, it expanded to global market like Malaysia and New Zealand.

It didn’t only expanded to different places but in every booking department and served as an exclusive ticketing partner for brands like Formula-1, Indian Premier League (IPL) and among many others.

Today, the company valued at over ₹3000 Crores and the growth is only increasing. It is also being tweeted as one of those companies which will not just survive this cut through competition but will also emerged to be extremely profitable very soon.

Well, Ashish has taken many knocks in his journey as an Entrepreneur in the past 16 years. But each time he gets punched, he gets up and moves ahead with double power.

When the country was learning and understanding computers and internet and when we all were very new and fresh to it that is when this visionary Ashish Hemrajani, the 24-years old young launched BookMyShow.

Their is lot to learn from his story to all entrepreneurs who are looking to build long term businesses and deliver value.


“Stop behaving like investors who think about investments and exit. Your obligation as an entrepreneur is to build a great product that will continue to make end users happy and satisfied. That is your only obligation, rest will follow. I see many entrepreneurs are now worried about valuations and exits, if you take care of customers, all that will happen.” —Ashish Hemrajani

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