YouTube is organising the fourth edition of Fanfest in Mumbai, India. We took this opportunity to converse with one of the biggest YouTube stars in the country. Say hello to Tanmay Bhat.
Bhat shares with Social Samosa, how AIB is bootstrapped, stirring away from funds, trying to make it as a creative first entity. AIB has big plans this year – from creating web-series to make a jump into movies.
In a candid conversation with Social Samosa, AIB’s Tanmay Bhat shares what it’s like to be themselves in this dynamic industry.
AIB is synonymous to YouTube in India. Looking back how did it all begin?
We used to do stand-up comedy, YouTube had been insisting we come online but we were reluctant. We were under the impression that our comedy wouldn’t translate. We eventually agreed and ended up receiving 4 million views on our first video. We went from strength to strength after that.
Are YouTube and Facebook’s branded content guidelines stringent?
Facebook and YouTube have basic brand guidelines where you have to mention that this video includes promotion. We follow the basic guidelines. These rules are for everyone and we follow it.
This industry a constant battle between Creative v/s Commercial. How do you maintain the balance?
Creative v/s commercials is a constant battle. As a creative person, I want to do a lot of stuff but I also have to keep the bills in check. I have an entrepreneur gene in me. I like to know that the business is doing well. It is fun as well as challenging.
Not many people know but AIB is amongst the very few channels who haven’t raised funding. I want to retain my freedom of doing whatever I want. We are bootstrapped to the extent that it goes month to month. Our image is that AIB is rich, SoBo kids making it big. But the truth is that channels such as TVF and Culture Machine have raised funds but we haven’t.
So, in this situation, what would you say is the biggest struggle?
Struggle is to keep the office running at the same time to be creatively fulfilled. My priorities in life are very different. Money is last. What comes on the top is am I creatively satisfied, is everyone in the office satisfied, am I being creative or just managing people? This is all that matters.
Are you worried that not taking a funding will impact AIB’s business?
Not picking a funding hasn’t impacted us so far.
We are one of the very few genuinely profitable creators. Our y-o-y our profit is growing 100 per cent to 200 per cent. We witnessed a 300 per cent profit in the last year.
This is also because we’re a very young and lean company. We’re just a team of 23 people, as compared to others who have 100 to 150 members in their team. We target 21 year 22 year old and I’m willing to put in the time to train them. This is why we opened a writing school last year.
You launched Vigyapanti in 2015. Where does it stand now? How has it been performing?
Vigyapanti is performing really well. We work with brands – this year has been our most successful yeas. You will see a lot of brand work coming up this year starting April. Brands are realising that your traditional agencies have one digital wing with a senior in-charge who has no knowledge about how internet works. Brands now realise that creators know better about what works better on the internet, what content will do well, and they (brands) are spending more time with creators.
Do you have an independent team for Vigyapanti? How does it function?
The writers who write our main comedy sketches also write for Vigyapanti. They know what is going to work content wise and brands are happy to work in that space. Vigyapanti will always be content first.
The source of revenue is same, what Vigyapanti does different is create content that can be promoted on the brand’s channel. Vigyapanti executes 360 degree campaigns. We locked three-four brands and will be working for them throughout the year. Our writers at Vigyapanti are ex-agency guys who understand what a brand needs better.
Doing what you do, we’re sure that you must receive the most ridiculous briefs and demands. What do you think are the cardinal mistakes that brands still commit?
What brands do wrong consistently is they want their digital campaign to be exactly same like their television campaign. The 17-18-year-old viewer is not seeing your television ads, you give him content. They go to the extent of telling us to cast the models of their TV ad in the digital campaign too. You’ll be surprised how often we’re asked that. Four out of five clients ask us this.
Don’t try to marry your television and digital campaigns.
Just give us the message you want to convey and we will give ideas. But these are traditional background people who don’t understand that the audience whose watching television is not the same who is on digital.
Share top 5 tips for all the budding content creators out there
- Be consistent
- Keep reinventing yourself
- Always remember it is a 20-year-old career not a five year one
- Think audience first and money later
- Be desperate
What is on your TDL for the next year?
We plan to launch long format fiction shows this year. Along with web-series hopefully this year we will make the jump in movies as producers as well.
Any parting thoughts?
It is very easy to get lost in this game if you chase money. You always want to remember the basics. This is how you build a foundation. It stresses me out to think that I’ve taken someone else’s money. I’d rather have less money and do what I like doing.