Sunday, September 08, 2013

BookMyShow pulls off a David

Once upon a time in India, multiplex phenomenon was gaining pace. PVR was the front-runner and industry leader by a large margin. Bookmyshow started on the shoulders of PVR. They provided ticket booking platform for PVR customers. Then someone in PVR observed that bookmyshow is doing well. In a typical Indian way of thinking, PVR thought: "They are growing because of us, we can launch our own online bookings. Anyway we have sufficient cash in bank account to hire a bunch of web developers." So they started parallel development in copying and building a better platform than bookmyshow.
One fine day, when the development was complete they pulled the plug on bookmyshow. I can imagine that would have been a traumatic day for bookmyshow founders. They would have tried to explain the value they can bring and all that .... but obviously PVR have already decided. When that happened, I felt really sad. I felt sad because I knew bookmyshow will close down and I knew PVR is making a wrong decision. In a short career of 10 years, I've already seen this script repeatedly played out in Indian industry. Profitable companies have this idol in form of Reliance Industries, which did vertical integration from textile to doing everything. They think since they have money and right political connections they can be next Reliance. However they don't realize that time has changed. Knowledge economy has arrived and red-tape'ism has reduced a little. Anyway I shifted to PVR's online booking platform for booking.
However to my surprise, bookmyshow refused to get bogged down. They just kept going. They started putting efforts on theater, events, sports, single screen cinema etc. They did this smart thing of displaying PVR show timing on their platform, which was anyway publicly available. Needless to say that user experience at bookmyshow kept getting better and PVR kept getting worse. Then again, I knew what will happen. PVR will eventually realize that they are loosing money on this ticket booking business. However since they have made the investment their managers will keep justifying the whole activity. Then eventually those managers will switch jobs and new managers will come and scrap the whole thing. However they will not go to bookmyshow due to ego problems. They will go to some other group of developers to develop competition for bookmyshow.
Then to my surprise, I saw PVR shows could again be booked on bookmyshow. I was so happy for them. In my startup, I've also been struggling with same problem : Trying to convince Indian clients that we can do better job than their in-house engineering team and it makes more sense. I believe we can do it much better. Its a story of  David against Goliath. Felt elated.

6 comments:

Chetan Gupta said...

So many online ticket booking sites have come and gone or haven't done well like Kyazoonga, bookmyseats, probably earn clicks once in a blue moon... that too when some Sports Organization hires them for ticket selling and even then they don't do well, World Cup 11 by Kyazoonga, Ind v Pak in Delhi (bookmyseats)...

But bookmyshow is always active for Movie tickets esp, also, they never had problems in selling tickets for big events like Sunburn, IPL, Formula 1 and many more...

The only reason I feel is the experience that they carry compared to the other Online ticketing sites and now slowly turned into specialists... Same thing must have happened for PVR Cinemas. But PVR can't afford patience and slow pace of growth in this competitive world, ultimately they had to turn towards the specialists

Rahul said...

I would speculate that the underlying philosophy of a capitalistic economy - people can come together to build things or trade and they would all be better as a result of that -has yet to seep through fully to the Indian psyche, even though the West discovered that 300 years ago (see Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations).
The Indian education system also places great emphasis on competition rather than co-operation, serving to re-enforce this mindset.

Anish said...

i really liked the "its best to get the fuck outa here" :)

though i have recently heard that west is learning our ways :)

Unknown said...

Yes I absolutely agree, this seems to be core issue. The story of Indian crab is very real.

Unknown said...

Is that so, then I should sign in for that one way ticket to Mars :-)

Unknown said...

Perseverance and Passion, that's the good stuff, to get a nice high ;-D

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