Ronnie Screwvala is an Indian entrepreneur and social philanthropist who founded the UTV Group, Unilazer Ventues, and Founder-Trustee of Swades Foundation. He also owns the Mumbai based Pro Kabaddi team, UMumba.
In his Reddit AMA, he mentioned off the bat that he would be answering questions focussed on promoting entrepreneurship. A theme that is along the lines of a book he is working on called, ‘Dream With Your Eyes Open’.
Excerpts from Ronnie Screwvala’s Reddit AMA
On the difficulties of being an Entrepreneur
“When you ventured into the Cable TV Business in India in 1981 ….. Did they pick it up easily, or did it take time to establish a market and get customers?”
“It took a year before we got our first break ….. we made over 300 presentations – over 2000 door to door visits and much more before we got our first break ….. any new concept takes time but once it works it can catch fire too – as did this – as it was a powerful concept and more importantly we executed well on it.”
On Indian TV vs Western TV
“Hi Ronnie. I want to ask about Indian TV scene and it’s quality or lack of. Is there any scope for actually talented people to come up with shows, both sitcoms and dramas, that are at par with world standard. Shows which don’t go on daily for years but is divided into seasons. Anil Kapoor brought 24 here, what about anything original? There’s a huge scope for Seinfeld like Indian sitcom considering the social issues here can be parodied so easily. We will stuff for over 20 seasons!”
“Overall TV is viewed by a very large audience. Our Fiction shows and soaps and serials are very original and strike a strong chord with its viewing audience ….. if it did not – we would not have such popular shows ….. if your oriented towards shows with a western bent – you may find this not your cup of tea but that does not mean our shows are not popular – and they travel all over the world. Production values depend on budgets and india is still an dependant market and so budgets are tight and he quality reflects the budgets.”
On running an urban incubator
As an entrepreneur developing infrastructure for the arts and technology ….. there exists no support within the community for a unique space like this. How would you best address a dilemma like this ….. to tackle the overhead costs with running a facility with such a varied bouquet of services with no currently available government subsidy or assistance?
“Firstly do not lose heart ….. secondly sometimes you may be early for your time or may have over estimated or invested and you will need to be patient ….. Also this will need word of mouth to catch on and more and best for those there to be your best ambassadors and evangelists ….. you will need to patient for like minded people + lastly the field you have picked is still not one where many venture and its a slow process ….. so hang in there as you already made the investment ….. if your running cost is un affordable for now do something in that.”
On the importance of digital media in sports
“Do you feel that apps and social media have a role in amplifying interest in sports like Kabaddi and/or as a tool to increase engagement with teams like UMumba? Have you experimented with any interesting digital concepts in your journey as a sports entrepreneur so far?”
“Early days in sports for me – but kabaddi was a great start for all and soon we will see many on street corners across india playing it ….. digital is critical for a new sport ….. half our own matches when i was not there live or was overseas – stayed in touch digitally and best way to build a fan base is digital.”
On important entrepreneurial lessons to be learnt
“What is the most important business/entrepreneurial lesson you learnt hard way? Which you would like to share with budding entrepreneur.”
“Many so can not share all in a few lines ….. and maybe my book will expand on them 🙂 But i would say its broadly on (1) Staying the course and never giving up (2) No Plan B when it comes to having made the decision to go at it on your own ….. as then you will always think there is a parachute (3) There is no such thing as failure only setbacks and its upto you to move on from them (4) Luck is not what everyone thinks it is and its more about creating opportunities for your self and being in the right place and right time (5) Spotting trends as that will make you look ahead of most (6) At all times the importance of People and team members and building a great culture for all to work in ….. and many more.”
Check the Reddit AMA page to go through all other questions that may or may not have been answered here.