When Abhinandan Sekhri and his team started Small Screen and Newslaundry, they started on instinct which may not be the best way to do as it depends on the type of work that will be done. Once they were on it, they started taking more informed decisions based on data, based on understanding the market space however, making a life choice, according to Abhinandan is usually an instinct. Quitting India Today and starting Small Screen was a life choice and not a product launch for Abhinandan. When his team bagged international awards for a documentary on which they had put their heart, it gave them confidence and kept them going.
“Data can tell you that this is what you are supposed to launch but if the passion for that lifestyle choice is not there, you won’t be able to sustain.”-Abhinandan Sekhri
A project may also take a long time and more money but if it’s going to reward in some way or the other, one should go ahead and do it. However, Abhinandan says every project can’t be a Mughal-e-Azam otherwise it will sink the ship. Figuring out when to hold costs and when not to or taking the right decision on a daily basis and hitting the right spot is the key to success for entrepreneurship.
“Sometimes there’s value outside profit and sometimes there’s value in profits, you just have to know where the value is this time.”-Sumit Suneja
Abhinandan also points out the importance of Corporate Governance. Newslaundry had investors while Small Screen did not have, both became separate entities with separate directors just so that there is corporate governance. He also wanted sincerity and to make sure the amount that the investors had put on Newslaundry is used for Newslaundry alone.
“Corporate governance is something that is not given enough attention in India”- Abhinandan Sekhri
With good corporate governance accompanied by a healthy corporate culture, an organization can have a lot of benefits. To mention a few, a business can perform better with efficient processes, can control risks, can bring financial stability etc.
“We also did not take corporate governance seriously earlier but now that we have reached a scale, we feel the need to be so much more diligent than what we used to be two years ago.”- Sumit Suneja
Things can get messed up in an organization sometimes and become inconsistent in the process. So how should entrepreneurs who are starting up, take care so that they don’t ever mess up with things and keep the discipline? Abhinandan has laid down three tips for this, the first one is to be clear about the regulatory framework in which you are operating. Secondly, to read what shareholders very much look like, what are the kind of clauses that are there, what are industry standards considering there is no fixed standard. Abhinandan also insists on speaking to a good chartered accountant and a good lawyer to understand how a company should be structured. Knowing the rules, understanding the agreements and rights are some examples. The third tip is knowing the space of your work, to be aware of what you are getting into.
“If you want to get into publishing, start reading a lot of books, if you want to get into cold drinks, start drinking a lot of cold drinks.”- Abhinandan Sekhri
Abhinandan has been in the media business for a long time now and he sure knows the space well. He has his takes on news channels that had started going down the gimmicky road and Newslaundry became a medium to comment on such news.
Newslaundry doesn’t run on any kind of ads so how was it running under a revenue model coming through as a subscription 10 years ago? Abhinandan took a cue from HBO when Bill Maher rebounded with the show ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’ after his previous show on ABC got cancelled. HBO had a fewer viewership than the other non-cable channels and those few audiences were paying 10 extra dollars. Abhinandan applied this logic that he will also charge very few thousand people with a low amount.
“The logic is we weren’t going for 10 million audiences, I didn’t care. I wanted 10 thousand audiences who thought that I was worth their money.”-Abhinandan Sekhri
Technology also plays a big role for startups. It can enhance business growth by increasing efficiency, productivity, security, communication etc. A business may come up with a great idea or plan but if the technology is inefficient, it can put off the customers/audiences thereby making them not wanting to come back.
“Never underestimate technology, the noblest of ideas, the best of intentions, the most brilliant ideas, whatever you have, technology can completely destroy it.”-Abhinandan Sekhri
There’s a lot more you can take away from this podcast, to learn more, watch the full video of the Forever in Motion podcast hosted by Sumit Suneja (Headway Founder) with Abhinandan Sekhri (Newslaundry Founder) as our guest