There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise. We can boast of a number of Indian women entrepreneurs who have created successful business brands across the world. Today’s start-up culture is bringing more women entrepreneurs to the forefront even in Technology sectors. Like any other industry, technology is also pushing the boundaries of the usual ways of doing business in the Entertainment sector. Meet Mumbai based Sonia Gupta, founder of Chain2Bollywood, a platform that is disrupting the unorganized talent and resource management sector of Bollywood. She is a recipient of Indywood Excellence Award 2017 for special contribution in talent and celebrity management in Film and TV Industry.
The Early Beginnings
A native of Jaipur, Sonia completed her Bachelors in Fine Arts specializing in Applied Arts. With limited opportunities to pursue a career in this field in Jaipur, she decided to break the barriers and move to Delhi. Her hardwork and determination paid off and from a novice in Animation and Graphics, she soon climbed the corporate ladder and was heading the Graphics and Animation department at Rajindra Films. She got a major break when she joined Aajtak, a prominent media group that gave a fillip to her career. The second tipping point in her career came when she moved to Mumbai and joined Sahara TV. Being one of the biggest studios in the country, She not only got the opportunity to work on high end animation but also got to work with luminaries of Bollywood like Ms. Jaya Bachchan.
I was very focused and hardworking. Many a times I stayed back in the office till late in the night and sometimes till early mornings during those days. I loved my work.
Sonia joined Aptech as a product head for their newly launched subsidiary Arena Animation and helped them spread their wings. She was now not only working as a technology expert but was also training the trainers of Arena and marketing and spreading animation technologies in India and abroad. She excelled in what she did but over the years she started feeling the work was getting monotonous and she aspired for a change.
Her experience working for studios had given her some exposure to the working of the bollywood industry and the struggles newcomers face to make their mark. She wanted to create a platform where even budding and wannabe artists, not only from Mumbai but from outside as well, can get to know the opportunities available that can help them in making sound career decisions. With this thought, she started bollywoodstaff.com while she was on the job at Arena.
I set up a makeshift office in my house and hired two employees. They used to call all the companies like Balaji Telefilms, etc to get their requirements, and we used to post them in various print media outlets to reach out to the candidates.
While the platform was taking shape, Sonia decided to also enter into the software services space to keep the lights on and formed her own company in the name of Graphic Imaage in 2008. Her experience at Aptech helped her in entering into this segment and her company offered services for designing websites, e-commerce, SEO and social media marketing. As she continued to progress, it also offered her much needed headroom to remodel and rebrand bollywoodstaff.com to chain2bollywood.com
A major part of who I am today is because of the support I received from my husband to follow my professional aspirations.
The New Beginnings
Today, the vast community of Bollywood aspirants have to struggle with the conventional and unorganized process of casting and hiring for various projects in the absence of a credible transparent solution. Chain2Bollywood aims to disrupt this sector by aggregating the Film, TV and Web production houses, casting and modelling agencies and connecting them with a vast pool of talent from all over the country.
Bollywood is not an easy place to be for tech companies. I had to understand the nuances of the sector. We had our share of failures. We have revamped and reengineered our business model in multiple ways to make it work like how Bollywood works.
With increasing mobile and internet penetration in India, Sonia started focusing full-time on growing Chain2Bollywood since 2016. According to her, there are over 3,00,000 registered users on their platform today. They have also recently launched a mobile app Chain2Bollywood+ to reach out to aspirants throughout India. With innovative features like Audition Rooms where aspirants can now upload their audition clips from the comfort of their homes, it is likely to change the way production houses scout for talent. Sonia and her team had also recently organized public voting based online reality contest for kids that saw participation from over 1200 kids across the country. They also undertake acting, modelling and image building classes regularly to groom the aspirants.
With increasing proliferation of social media platforms like youtube, facebook, instagram and OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar, SonyLiv, etc, there is no dearth of opportunities today in the media and entertainment industry.
Not only talent, Chain2Bollywood also aspires to be the aggregator and a marketplace solution for all the aspects of material and resource requirements during the production of Film, TV and Web based projects. The platform aims to organize the sector by bringing in transparency and efficiency in selection and management of talent, material and resources which in turn helps in optimizing production timelines and budgets.
Media and Entertainment sector is going through major transformation with increasing penetration of mobile and internet services in India. Techpreneurs like Sonia Gupta are increasingly shining bright in this sector by helping many realize their dreams.
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