TommyJams is unlike most other startups you’ve heard of. Founded by 25 year old Parth Saxena, and Nikhil Kapur in 2012, TommyJams is an initiative that aims to provide venues and performance spaces for artistes from across the world in India. What is so different about it?
Conventionally, artistes or bands approach their manager, or have to personally contact venue managers of places they want to tour in, and manage the logistics of a tour. What TommyJams does is solve this problem by allowing artistes to just register online with the place of choice to tour in, and the rest of the logistics and merchandising, if any, is taken care of by the team themselves.
A user can register as a promoter, a venue provider or an artist. Promoters can launch their gigs on the platform while artists can create campaigns and raise funds for a tour. Venues looking for artists and gigs can find them on the platform.
A guitarist himself, Parth has played at multiple events including with well known artistes like the Raghu Dixit, while working with semiconductor design and manufacturing company, Texas Instruments. Co-founder Nikhil, on the other hand is an event manager of sorts after having had organised various events during his stint at Microsoft. Describing the journey from being full time corporate employees to whole time managers of TommyJams, Parth says, “We had no entrepreneurial knowledge initially and were working on this idea parallel to doing our regular jobs. After 6-8 months of research, we decided we were falling short of bandwidth, and moved from Hyderabad to Bangalore to focus on this.”
The two had initially conducted a market survey to ascertain the feasibility of their ambitions. They relied on both industry papers as well as their own research. According to their research, the live entertainment industry in India was worth approximately $700 million in 2012, and in the past three years, growth has doubled by around 25%.
“We used a top down and bottom up approach to ascertain the prospects. We looked at the live entertainment industry as a whole, and verified industry reports as well. When both of them matched, we knew we had a winner,” says Nikhil Kapur, co-founder at TommyJams.
Headquartered in Bangalore, and with chapters in 5 cities, the team has now expanded to four members as of May 2013.
TommyJams recently added another method to conducting events. “ Apart from performers and venues who previously applied online for bookings, we now have a new thing we’re trying called Roadshows,” says Parth, “All performers or bands now need to do is conduct a ‘campaign’ where fans from across the country will book tickets, the sales of which will help fund the entire tour. If the campaigns are successful, they can play at the preconfigured venue, if not, the money is refunded.” he adds. TommyJams has initiated the Roadshows with two bands, ‘Until We Last’ and the ‘Kanchan Daniel Band’ to play on the 21st and 28th of December in Bangalore and Mumbai, which have received about 40% of the Rs 15,000 required for funding.
Like most startups, the company was initially bootstrapped with investments by the two founders. “We started of with just $300 or Rupees 18,000 put in by the two of us in October 2012 and we’ve not taken any external funding as yet. We are, however, in talks with three investors currently, and are not in a position to comment on who they are right now,” says Parth.
But, they make it clear that TommyJams is not all about the funding. “We’re not a company that’s begging for funds right now, we are expanding any way even without that funding,” says Parth. The company has already broken even & is targeting revenues of $80,000 this year.
TommyJams has currently conducted 20 tours with zero cancellations. Bands who have performed range from those in India and also from countries like Sweden, France and Russia. They now aim to expand their tours to international markets as well. Perhaps it’s their sound research, and definite love for the service over a need for funding that makes this startup so different. They are in no doubt that they will succeed with, or without it.