The VideoVerse

TVV EP 18 - The challenges and opportunities of building a hyper-local OTT service in India

June 11, 2023 Visionular Season 1 Episode 18
TVV EP 18 - The challenges and opportunities of building a hyper-local OTT service in India
The VideoVerse
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The VideoVerse
TVV EP 18 - The challenges and opportunities of building a hyper-local OTT service in India
Jun 11, 2023 Season 1 Episode 18

We are pleased to host Shashank Vaishnav, CTO and co-founder of In this episode we discuss Shashank's unique entrepreneurial journey, and how he and his team have built hyper-localized OTT products in India.  We discuss the challenges of product delivery and what he is focused on this year from a technology perspective.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We are pleased to host Shashank Vaishnav, CTO and co-founder of In this episode we discuss Shashank's unique entrepreneurial journey, and how he and his team have built hyper-localized OTT products in India.  We discuss the challenges of product delivery and what he is focused on this year from a technology perspective.

 Zoe: Hi, everyone! Welcome to "The VideoVerse" episode. So in this episode, and I'm going to be the host again. So this is Zoe from Visionular. And then I have David joining me as a co-host. So we're both based here in the Bay Area of California. And for this episode, we actually invite Shashank From India. I think I will like him to introduce himself to see where he's based from and then why, for example, he has been invited to this episode. Hi, Shashank. I think this is your time to just get an introduction about yourself and the way that leading you down here, basically.

: Hi, Zoe. Hi, David. Thank you so much for having me here. I'm Shashank, Co-Founder and CTO of STAGE, and we are based in India. We are in north part of India and the place is called Noida.

Zoe: Noida?  Yeah. I visited the place a few weeks back. So it's basically, I think Noida is close to Delhi, right?

Shashank: Yeah. It's near. Yeah, near Delhi.

David: And can you tell us a little bit more about STAGE? I know you have a very fascinating-

Zoe: Oh, you've got a STAGE mug!

David: And a STAGE mug. Nice placement there. You have a very fascinating backstory, right? Because you did start out this part of your founder's path with an OTT service. I'd love if you can give the viewers and listeners a little bit of background about how you came to be a Co-Founder of an OTT service, vis-a-vis the past company you had to now, that would be a great kind of a little bit of a background.

[00:01:54 Background about OTT service]

Shashank: Yeah, sure, sure. So me and my other co-founders, we started our entrepreneurial journey in 2010 when we were in college, first year. We were very fascinated about the world of tech. So we started to learn a lot of things and we started to solve some problems, which exist on the internet. So by doing these things in 2014, we started a company called So Wittyfeed was a viral content platform, like Buzzfeed. So we used to have like 120 million users every month to come to our site.

Zoe: So monthly active users, 120 millions?

Shashank: Yeah, 120 Million. Correct. So in 2018, we had to shut down that company. It was a good a profit-making organization. We used to make like 50 codes every year. But in 2018, because of Facebook algorithm change and the content business of creating content were going down as compared to consuming of content in video format. So in 2018, we decided that we will have to change our path. In 2019, we started to think that, in last two years, the smartphone era our internet here in India has changed after Jio coming in.

Now everyone has a smartphone with internet connection into it. So all the users from newly came to the platform were from small places of the country. And we saw that in these places where, I belong from a small village. We do not mainly speak Hindi or English. So every state, every area has a different language, we call it a dialect, in which they speak. So we thought that this area is completely untapped. There is no premium platform out there. So if we talk about Netflix or Amazon Prime, they only create content in Hindi and English and other languages and not in any small dialects.

So we saw the gap there and we belong from those kind of places, so we think there is an utter need of premium content in dialect. So we started STAGE with the idea of creating a premium quality content in dialect. So we started up with the standup comedy, poetry, and these kind of things. Prior to that, when we had to shut down the company of Wittyfeed, we had like 90 people in the team at that time and we were out of money. So we told our team that we are not shutting down the company from here. We will build something. If you guys want to build with us, we can do that, but we won't be able to pay you all the monies.

So we pitched it to our team that you come and work with us at half of the salary and rest half we will multiply by two and give you the equity in the company. Out of our surprise, out of 90 people, 55 of them decided to stay back and build STAGE with us. So STAGE was the idea which was formed by the whole team and the whole team worked for like six, seven months, day and night, and we created this platform.

David: That's great! And that's an amazing story just to come from, to have a large, profitable, growing business with that many daily active, monthly active users is amazing! To have the team stay committed speaks something to the founding team as well to stay with you as well through that shift to a kind of a different business model as well. So that's kinda interesting.

Zoe: So originally, I think, because you mentioned you had once 120 million monthly ad users, right? And then you start to build up STAGE, which is a current effort. And then basically, originally, you were doing 2C business. And right now, I think right now you also as another 2C, but then it is quite really different kind of services to address different needs of the consumer needs.

Shashank: Yeah. So yeah. So basically, Wittyfeed was also a content company with the packet of a strong tech into it. An OTT platform is similar, all similar like that only. So our older skills had helped us a lot in deciding what kind of content we should make and our tech skills was anyways good. So we built the platform from scratch.

David: It's a tough proposition as well, not just from the fact that you're building an OTT platform, but you actually are doing the content and you talk about the content side of it as well. You're actually like, if I recall, you're funding content production as well, right? So you're going out to people and saying, "Can you please create me content in this dialect for this new platform, and we will connect you to this audience," right? So that's pretty unique and pretty audacious, a very large leap for a small company to do both sides of it, right?

Shashank: Yeah. So there were no existing content in these areas-Premium quality. So we had to do that all from scratch. So anyone who had an idea of any content piece, any movie, any website, they used to come and explain us that whole idea, and if we like it, we sanction the amount for that and we pay for the content and we buy it into it and we stream that on our platform.

David: And what kind of technical challenges did you have with that? 'Cause I mean, obviously, you've got people that are, they're not Bollywood creators that are making this content probably most of the time. Some of them may probably have some experience, but most of the time are they filming on phones or how did you work with 'em from a technical perspective so that they could actually provide you content in the right format?

[00:07:33 Technical Challenges]

Shashank: These guys are really passionate for creating these kind of content. They're well learned. And these guys used to go to Bombay and look for work, but there are a lot of people out there and opportunities compared to the number of people. So when we give them opportunity in their own state, they are reverse migrating here. They're all aware and all technical things they used to know.

David: Okay. That's very cool.

Zoe: Right, so basically, you provide a platform, so not only distribute the content, right? You have to, and there's an incentive for your team to be able to help them to actually create the original content.

So basically, this kind of things, like what kind of tools, because they may have their own ways to make accountant. So I remember you once mentioned that you may have some suggestion, even regarding, for example, the plots, the script, and then because on the other side is distributed to the end users and you can definitely collect feedbacks and then to make the connection between the producer and then the end consumers.

Shashank: Yeah. So Zoe, here's the interesting part. We analyze data heavily in our team. Our team exactly knows what kind of script will work, what kind of moment we'll have to build at. If we add this kind of scenes in the content, then the subscription rate will be higher. So based on that, we are building SOP for the person who creates the content, what kind of camera setup you have to use, how many lens you have to change, what kind of script flows should be there. They create end to end, all creativity will be there, but our inputs are there in our SOP. If they follow that SOP properly, then there are high chances of content are doing so good.

Zoe: So where do you get, so you mention the data. So we believe that you get all this secret ingredient from those data. Do you also have a team that's actually a very professional of screenwriter or do you have also, for example, editor along the movie producer type of line? Do you have those profession on your team, or is it mainly rely on the data to provide all these suggestions?

Shashank: Yeah. Yeah. So we speak about only content and we have people of content in the team for every region. Every our dialect head person is there who has a great understanding of content. So whenever we sanction a script, they listen to it. Their job is to listen to all new scripts. And based on our data, they decide what kind of content will work. So right now there are 800 scripts in pipeline. Yeah, our team listens to all of them.

David: Wow!

Zoe: Wow. Okay.

David: So gimme a sense of, so you obviously have a lot of, probably have a lot of instrumentation then in your app to understand what people are going to engage in, right? Are you just looking at playbook? Talk to me about the metrics that you're capturing and how the team is looking at it.

Shashank: Yeah. Yeah, the most important metric here is that average watch time of the user. So we use Amplitude and our own internal data platform, which we have built in-house to analyze what kind of content has maximum average watch time.

So if the content works, it means their average watch time has to be very good. So most of our content, our completion rate is around 80% and-That is really, really good!

David: That's very cool!

Zoe: So basically, I say that it is just you collect and access the feedback from the end users and then analyze it, and then from different perspectives and provide this kind of feedback to the producers.

Shashank: Correct. Correct.

Zoe: So we like to have a kind of idea what kind of volume you're currently processing and then when you collected all this genres, different genres of videos and started to distribute it from, there must be some other challenges presenting videos and then to finally get the videos to the hands of users, and then distribution side. For example, I have been in India a few times. Videos are still a challenging media format that is being shared 'cause sometimes, I have to mention, that it is a lot better, actually. The first time I went to India was back to December 2019, before the pandemic blew out. And then after a long time, last year I started to travel back to India and then I found that, at least what I can see, that the wireless communication, the data plans has got a lot better, even just after a couple of years. But still, sometimes could be challenging. Now we are talking about videos.

[00:13:35 Visionular's codecs are very helpful]

Shashank: Yeah, sure, Zoe. So basically, we have around a million right now, among them half a million are paid subscribers. So it's very important to serve these users in a very proper way, and the streaming should be really fast. So for that we have you guys, our Visionular team. They have helped us a lot.

So you guys have been very helpful here. We transcode our videos via our Visionular and we use two codecs here, x265 and x266, both. x264 and x265, both. So for the device which has support of x264, we play that, and device who has support of x265 also, we play that. Automatically, it happens on the runtime. So these helps us save a lot of data for our users because users in India primarily mostly have this data pack of a GB which they can use in a day. A GB per day.

Zoe: One GB a day.

Shashank: Yeah. So it's very important for us to see the size of video has to be smaller and quality is a lot better.

Zoe: Right. So can you give us idea of just, sorry, I just want to get idea like what that one gig, one GB, really meant to end users, like how long they may be able to watch and then what kind of resolution the user can enjoy?

Shashank: Yeah. So they can enjoy, on their phone, they can enjoy easily four 480p or 720p and in one GB, they can watch around four hours of content.

Zoe: Four hours of content in 720 or 480?

Yeah. Average of that.

David: And do you do anything interesting to understand where they might be at in their data cap? Do the phones have APIs to say they've used this much today so you could actually adapt the manifest or change?

Shashank: Yeah, for that, we'll have to ask our user for permissions. Yeah. A step extra. But yeah, it's a good idea. If some users allow us, then we'll be able to understand a pattern here. So it's really good idea.

David: Yeah. Yeah, some additional statistics about average manifest, especially if the users are consuming that much video, right? So you talked about higher quality, perhaps, for your SVOD users. The subscribers. Do you restrict the quality that people are not paying receive or they have a limited set of content they can watch?

Shashank: Not right now, but the people who are not paid, they have very small library to watch and these are like standup comedies and folk content, which they can watch in free. And every paid content has an episode of free. The first episode is free there. And if you like the first episode, then you pay for it.

David: So what would you say, I mean, thinking back now you've launched, you're in a number of markets, what do you think the biggest challenges have been for you to kind of grow the business so far?

[00:15:56 Challenge to grow business]

Shashank: Yeah, so basically, the major point is the completion of content. Sometimes a web series takes four months and sometimes it take eight, 10 months. Our pipeline get little distorted. That is one of the problem area we face. But I think it's a time problem, an optimization thing. That we will solve. We have been thinking to do our production, all post-production part in-house.

The person who create the content, he will just shoot it into it and the rest after that we will do all it in-house.

Zoe: How are the post productions?

Shashank: Sorry?

Zoe: You said you are waiting to do all the post productions.

Shashank: Post production. Post production. Yeah. Because it's the most important part after shooting the content, and if we can keep that in-house and scale that, it'll be amazing. Then our process will become much faster.

David:  So the post-production sounds like it's a bottleneck, not the actual creation process or the script writing process? It's somehow getting stuck in the post houses today. Interesting.

Shashank: You know what? In post-production, lot of to and fro happens. They send us something, we ask them to do some changes. This process takes time. All the analytical thing we have in-house. So using that, we'll be able to do all post production in a much better and faster way. And it's scalable. You can do that thing from one single place.

So the other thing, I keep coming back to the delivery to tier two and tier three cities, you must have some interesting delivery strategies from a CDN perspective as well because, as we know different, CDNs in India have different penetrations to these different cities. So what's your approach for that? What you feel comfortable sharing, I should say.

All these places have good internet connections now. So that problem has been solved. The problem of speed has been solved. At the same time, we'll have to be very wary of the fact that the data we use in a day should be lesser. So that part has been all taken care by you guys. When we talk about streaming, we use CloudFront and Media CDN by Google.

The playlist still automatically, it decides in which area the streaming speed of CloudFront is right or Media CD is right and automatically it switches there and there itself for the better experience.

Zoe: Right. So you basically, at the beginning, you mentioned that the original thought is because India has so many states and every state have their own, even within the state, I believe, from one place move to another, maybe just several tens of kilometers away then this dialogue could already start to change. So then how are you going to... Do you always get, for example, that by Hindi, or just provide subtitles? But then there's so many, right? When you start to distribute the same content to different villages, they may be viewed with the different dialects, local dialects. Then how are you going to address this with subtitles or?

[00:19:27 Create content in different dialects]

Shashank: Yeah, so basically, we are planning to do all dialects of north India right now and we have identified around 20 dialects, which has a minimum household of 5 million. Sorry. And we started with Haryana. We were there for three years, only Haryana, only one dialect. We learned all the things there.

Only one dialect. We learned all the things there. Then after that, we started Rajasthan and we tried to replicate our whole playbook we have built in Haryana, and it worked really well. In four months, we were able to hit the numbers, which we did in 18 months in Haryana, just in four months in Rajasthan, which means our playbook is really right, it's working now. And what we are gonna do, see, every dialect has a different flavor. The way they live, the whole cultural differences are there. If you make a general content piece, the nuances of their differences will go away. That is why it is very important to create content in their dialect, in the local theme for the local stories.

And then what we do for expanding the size of our time, we dub that content. Let's say, whatever content we make in Haryana, we dub that into Rajasthani. Whatever content we make in Rajasthani, we dub that content in Haryana. And it is much cheaper. And with that, we are not able to get new subscribers, but our area's watch time increases to dub content.

David: And do you find that people from different states are watching content from the other dialect that's been dubbed?

Shashank: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

David: Okay. So even the fact that it's just northern India was enough, maybe, to say, "Oh, that's still appealing content to me. Doesn't have to be from my part of the state."

Shashank: Right now, this happens into Rajasthan and Haryana, both. Next year, we are launching Bhojpuri and Maithili, then we will dub those content as well in Haryana and Rajasthani, and vice versa.

David: Mm. Very cool.

Zoe: So then how do you think... 'Cause right now you have two states, for example, and then you want to get so all the other states, right? So it's going to be a grow and scaling type of thing. So what do you expect the challenges when you grow from a small number of states to a much larger?

Shashank: Yeah, I think if we talk about only our tech problems, so I think building more tools for the artist and creator will solve our problem. But major problem will lie into operational aspect of it. Every dialect will have a web series every month, as possible, more content pieces, around eight, 10 hours of content we create in every dialect. So it'll become very operationally heavy. We'll have to build all processes, which can scale very fast. I think that is the only challenge we see as we expand in other dialects. So operational, it'll increase operational heaviness.

Zoe: Right. And I just wonder, 'cause you are building all these kind of tools, right, to facilitate and then analyze the data from the end users. So have you also think of create some more, for example, like AI, artificial character. And then I will think, for example, I see some movies sometimes the actually combination between, I think, the natural scenes together with maybe some cartoons or animated characters down there. And then, because you actually help the production part, right? And you also have the post-production part and you also know that what is being most attractive, most attractive content for a local watcher, also uses because you may just put on certain dialects down there to feed their taste, to feed their preferences. And then within that, there's maybe not only the plots that can be designed in some way, maybe some characters that you can leverage to create some artificial characters down there.

Shashank: Yeah. So like from past few months, AI has been a lot talked about and no doubt in our team as well, people are speaking about it a lot, but we have not implemented anything as of now. But the first thing we are gonna do is to create more thumbnails of any content so that our CTR goes high. So right now we are working on that automatically. We will take the scenes from that whole movie or web series and we create these auto thumbnails so that we can experiment and between a lot of them automatically. So this is the thing we will do first and then maybe one day we will also build the whole series via AI, end-to-end.

Zoe: Okay. So now you have the raw material you mentioned. For example, you may have one, I would say, maybe just a one hour episode or you have several series of episode, right? And I watch some of my home country from, originally I was from Beijing, so there's some dramas, but there's some character are really my favorite. And sometimes because they want to make sort of many episodes of drama, there's pretty landing. I only want to focus on, maybe even now the main character, I really like one love story, maybe at the sidelines. So I like to say, "Hey, I want to see, allow me to choose the character I'm really in love with. And then I love to see the storylines develop just for these particularly two characters." So that may be not only have to... Because you said you have a smaller team, but you want to do big things. So have you ever done similar stuff? Because you mentioned you were created a thumbnail and then you maybe also just produce a sidelines.

Shashank: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely, Zoe! This is really amazing! This world is changing very fast after AI. The thing you mentioned right now, that is mind blowing. If user can choose this specific person, "I want to see the whole story," it should be automatically. This kind of thing's gonna happen. The content thing gonna change a lot in the next few years and it'll be more or personalized. Even the person wants his story in his faith, in the way he want it to go, it automatically will be like that. So yeah, it is endless.

Zoe: All right. Yeah, so this is something, because you are producing also to the post-production and then there's a lot of, I think, I see the factors that leverage the technologies we talk about just now, you also This is mainly for video. For example, processing, transcoding, and distribution because they have limited quota than the end users really want. I have only one gigabytes. I want to watch the most common, but I also want to enjoy the better quality. And on the other side, I think all this, you on the producer side, there's a lot of ideas and then to help them create the most attractive content and then you develop that with the watching tab, but then you can do another reproduction or second round of production based on so many materials, right?

And then, with so many story lines. I can see that sometimes people mention, "Oh, I'm working, living in the dual space." Maybe the same character and then showing in different story lines. But then they have some connections down there and then you can reuse them and maybe like longer or even shorter, maybe not quite shorter videos, but I can still see sometimes- Short films. Short films we can make.
Short films. For example, I only have 30 minutes, but I want to watch the whole 20 episode, but at least I can start to talk about this drama with my friends. It looks like I have watched all of them, but actually I only look at a thumbnail or abstract of them. That could be really, at least for us, this kind of-

Shashank: I got two ideas. I got two idea from this call. Really good.

Zoe:  And so this this content part... So on the other part, I think you also mentioned when you grow to a certain volume, right? And then you start to serve different regions of the country. And so, is that a cloud? Because right now you mention the city you mainly leverage AWS CloudFront and GCP Media CDN. And do you see how this cloud, we'll say, maybe you have to deploy different servers down the road to serve different locations. And how do you feel about these cloud services that facilitate the production distribution of the thing that you are currently contribute to workforce?

Shashank: Yeah, so after AWS and GCP, these kind of organizations have come, these things have all changed. It's very easy now. It's click deployments. So automatically, it will scale, automatically, we can make our servers in all different states of the country. I think AWS and GCP both has in Delhi and Mumbai, both. So we can choose in which location we want to start our VMs. So it is very easy now.

David: Also thinking about the future. What kind of technology or ideas are you thinking about, beyond AI obviously, for the rest of this year and kind of into next?

[00:29:41 Ideas into next]

Shashank: Okay. I would like to emphasize and work more on our player, our video player, so that it works very well across all devices, small screen, big screen, low RAM, low memory, because that has been a challenge for us because there are assembled phones that are also there in India, which are very low end, but our users are there on these kind of phones as well. So we're gonna work really hard on our player. And second thing that in India, the CTV, smart TV is increasing a lot. People have started to use them. So I've started to use them. But again, people mainly uses these assembled TVs, which are not standard. So for them, we will have to tweak some things in our platform, in our smart TV app. And importantly, we have built our smart TV app in Flutter only and we have explored it in Flutter a lot and it works really good, but it is bit challenging right now. But you don't need a lot of people to build all the TVs for all the other device. That automatically does that. So yeah. Next thing we are gonna do lot in our video player for streaming.

Zoe: So you mentioned the player design for big screens, like TVs or all kinds of different phones. Can you give us an idea what's the percentage of users watching our mobiles as opposed to watching over the big screen?

Shashank: Yeah, so we have split of around 80/20 or 20% people see content on a smart TV. And I think it is increasing. It will increase in the next few years. Adoption is increasing. So if you are there in the smart TV, the user is stuck now. If you are there in the living room, they won't go. So our target that a lot of people should watch content on smart TV. And there again, our transcoding thing help. We are transcoding our content in 4K as well. So it's really, really good quality.

Zoe: Oh. Actually, this is little counterintuitive from my side. I thought more and more users want to watch on their phones because it's really just you can watch things anywhere, anytime. But you clearly mention that for the smart TVs users are

Shashank: So they can watch on phone. They must have this accessibility to watch on phone. But I'm saying if you're there in the living room, you are there. Like Netflix, you can't remove from your life 'cause it's there on your TV. Every time you eat food, you have to open the TV and watch content with your family. Our target is that.

Phones are handy, they are all mobile, you can watch content anytime, but our preference is that you watch the content on TV because that will give you the best experience of that content.

Zoe: That's right. And then that's kind of like bigger resolutions, of course, like you also mentioned-

Shashank: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We want to be in everyone's home, inside their living room where they watch content with their family. See, in India, for dialect, there are few content pieces available there, but they are very sleazy in nature. You can't watch that content with the whole family. And we started STAGE with the idea of creating premium quality content for these users. We believe that, so in India, mainly people think that people in small villages, small places, they can't afford things. So good content is not available for them. But we believe main money in India is in small villages. All big cities lives on EMI. In villages, people buy things in cash. They have money, they shed a lot of money.

And initially, when we started the STAGE, people in used to say that the user, "Your users won't pay for the service. They can't pay." But we believe they will pay. Right now, we have half a million paid subscribers just from small villages.

David: And so you, you mentioned that payment mechanisms could be problematic if most of the payments are done in cash. What mechanisms do you have set up for-

Shashank: So in India, UPI has done a phenomenal job. Now, UPI penetration is around 70%, I think, the people who have smartphones. So user base is working really good. Our 90% of payment happen via UPI only. People do not use internet banking or cards here a lot. And now, and PCI is doing really, really good job here. They have also launched Upay auto pay, just like our credit cards. Automatically every month-
The amount will go. So it has been blessing to all the content companies in India and paying online has become a very, very simple thing in the country.

David: That's right. I think when I visited you last, you guys were working on the recurring UPI payments, I think, right? So that's gone good?

Shashank: It's going phenomenally good, David! We had not expected that. So our day zero renewal of monthly plan is 80%. So 80%.

David: That's a great retention rate.

Shashank: We have a three months plan, it will be around 90%, I believe. Let's hope. If that happens, we will be profitable by October. And our main target and goal right now is to hit a profitability. Yeah. By October, if things goes right. Touch wood.

Zoe: And that's only five months, or less than five months ago. So then, I like to have from my side, could be towards the end, I wanna say, because a startup, and then you are just trying to grow your business, right? You're already making your goal to become profitability by October. But then along the way, there's always competitions and competitors out there, especially, I think, there's also big players and then they have the resources from different ways they already build their brand. So how do you anticipate that down the road?

[00:35:47 Plans down the road]

Yeah. Yeah. So I'll tell you that. Good question. The competitors are always there, you know? Netflix or Amazon Prime, or Hotstar for that matter. They have lot of money with them. They can throw these thing, throw all money. But I think it is not a money problem, it's a time problem. All these places we are going and creating content. There is no existing library there. We are creating it from scratch.

Now let's say Netflix or Prime or Hotstar, they say that we want to go and work in Haryana, Rajasthani. It will take minimum three years to build some library there. We are already there. In three years we are gonna do more states. So we'll be far ahead of them. That's first thing.

Second thing, competition can do anything if they have all money with them. We'll have to find our mode. So for that, what we have identified is that, initially, we thought our product is an OTT platform where people watch content, but it's not like that. It is different game altogether here, which we have realized after some time. Our product is, the fact that these platforms help people reinforce their pride and dignity for their dialect. That is our product. People are connected to their dialect. What happens in India, if you do not talk in English or Hindi, people think that you are uneducated, you are like in Hindi, it's a term, and they see you with ill eyes. They won't respect you.

But we believe communication, speak dialect is a way, Hindi or English is a way of communication. It does not define what kind of person you are and what educational background he had. So that doesn't define that. For that, we created a premium platform where we can make these dialects really look cool and people should not be afraid of speaking in their own dialect.

I'll give you an example. There is a guy who works in our team. He used to work in a cafe in a place called Rohtak in Haryana. That guy speaks in Haryana, some tone. In Hindi, also if he talks, that Haryana tone is always there. His manager fired him after two months saying that, "When you talk, your language is some bit of Haryana into it. And that is bad for the reputation of this cafe, this fancy cafe."

That guy, I asked him in the interview that, "Why did you join STAGE?" He told if STAGE will become successful, these kind of things will never happen. That is why that is the importance of STAGE becoming a big company. That is the idea of STAGE I like so much. That is why people are joining us. Whenever someone joins us, we ask them, "Why do you wanna join STAGE?" If they align with this whole vision of the company, then we approve them to join us. So yeah. So basically, we are building a guarantee here, a revolution where we are becoming a part in and preserving the dialect culture and localness of any place, which is the most important element of formation of any big place or big legacy.

Zoe: So actually, you try to actually not only keep the dialects. At the same time, you just make speak that dialect feel the dignity.

Shashank: Yeah. Yeah, so next thing we gonna try is that to build a layer of community over the OTT platform. So we just don't want to be OTT platform. We want to be OTT plus plus. If you have read a blog by a16z, Andreessen Horowitz, it's called "Social Strikes Back." It's amazing blog. It explains next era will not be OTT, it'll be OTT plus plus and what all the things it will has. See, initially, social networks were like Facebook. Now it's all TikTok or Instagram. So things are changing very fast. And that is how we see STAGE is evolving as it will become a OTT plus plus, where a layer of community will be there, where the people speaking same dialect, belonging to same region, they'll be communicating and discussing about these things on the platform itself. And that is how we envision that we can create a moat around our platform so that we can compete with other players. That will be our differentiator.

Zoe: Well, thank you for actually sharing your vision. And then, I think same thing is when we talk about the big players who are in the field or the humongous competitors in the field because of money, the vision, and value you share with your team, you share with your users, share with the customer, share with the community, that actually leads the effort into, I think, the largest potential. And we actually appreciate that you came to our episode and to share this, and we also hope that a lot of people can hear this episode and at least to see there's a possibility there for them, for different people that they speak different dialects and everybody feel proud, in speaking that specific dialects. Thank you. And then, any furthers than others. We're going to close this episode and we really appreciate all the sharings, and at same time, I think you already made the goal. You have a target, and we really hope the best with the pursuits of you and the STAGE team.

Shashank: Thank you so much, Zoe.

Background about OTT service
Technical Challenges
Visionular's codecs are very helpful
Challenge to grow business
Create content in different dialects
Ideas into next
Plans down the road