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Poonacha Machaiah

CEO | 13 May 2013

Social media to a large extent has democratised ‘content creation’, therefore, creativity is no longer limited to select agencies and their talent. Brands can throw challenges at the community and harness the power of the crowd. Thus, if a brand is looking for music or jingle that is targeted at a certain region or community, they can leverage social media to create and distribute their brand message.

Poonacha Machaiah is the Chief Executive Officer at Qyuki, a digital media company set up by Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman. He is an integral part of the leadership team at Qyuki and is responsible for providing strategic directions and vision to foster the growth of the company.

After a 17-year stint in the US, Machaiah returned to India in 2008 to start ABO Ventures, a unique consulting model to make companies succeed in the India and Asia Market places. He is a successful serial entrepreneur and has vast experience in building start-ups, leading Fortune 100 companies and forming strategic alliances. Through majority of his career, Machaiah has held senior leadership positions in global sales and business development with leading MNCs such as Sasken, Motorola, and Visionael.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Priyanka Nair, Machaiah speaks at length about how social media is creating new avenues for music enthusiasts, Qyuki’s business model, how brands are leveraging Qyuki’s platform for advertising, and much more...

Q. With the increase in sales of digital music today how can a social media platform like Qyuki help in generating revenues for music enthusiasts?

We will be releasing a ‘markeplace’ in the next release of the platform. This will enable amateurs and professionals on the Qyuki platform to market and sell their individual tracks and albums. Thus, they will be able to reach out to their fans and monetise their content.

Q. Across the world music is the most widely discussed topic on social media. How do you think brands can leverage this as a marketing opportunity?

Social media to a large extent has democratised ‘content creation’, therefore, creativity is no longer limited to select agencies and their talent. Brands can throw challenges at the community and harness the power of the crowd. Thus, if a brand is looking for a music or jingle that is targeted at a certain region or community, they can leverage social media to create and distribute their brand message.

Q. How is Qyuki different from other social media networks?

Qyuki has originated from the need of the community to express themselves creatively, to that extent Qyuki is a ‘social expression’ network where users can express themselves creatively, interact with their community and build their identity.

Qyuki is differentiated from other platforms on 4Cs feature; we focus on building a creative community, on our platform there is best-in-class content creations by masters and co-creation of opportunities with the experts, we allow for collaboration between different regions, communities, genres and consumers who are a part of our platform celebrate because they are being recognised by the experts and communities.

Q. What, according to you, are the unique features that will drive traffic and content developers to Qyuki?

Qyuki as a platform has various unique features that no other online websites offer to their audience:
Emotions and creativity: The EmoTagging feature on Qyuki helps users move beyond likes, or voting up and down to interact with a piece of content. A like is a very static interaction. On Qyuki, users get an opportunity to express an emotional reaction to the content.

Inspirations: Qyuki is attempting to solve the blank canvas problem. It gives you ideas and nudges to create content. No other platform offers this.

Creative experts reviewing user content: Chetan Bhagat is reading stories of users on Qyuki and giving his feedback. Ranjit Barot is listening to compositions and commenting on them. Similarly, Suresh Natarajan looks at picture creations of users and encourages them to become better photographers.

Qyuki nudges users by providing thought starters for creativity. Experts on Qyuki across disciplines such as Writing (Chetan Bhagat), Photography (Suresh Natarajan), Film-making (Imtiaz Ali) and Music (Ranjit Barot) also provoke users by giving them specific stimuli to create.

Bandstand on Qyuki is an example where the users who uploaded the best music content got to work with Qyuki to create collaborative music videos. Similarly, users who submitted the best video footage collaborated with Shekhar Kapur to present short films on Moments in Motions.

Q. Could you throw some light on your audience profile?

Qyuki is targeted at Indian youth and the Indian Diaspora in the age group of 18-35 years, residing in tier I, II and III markets. As we develop additional features, we will look at going deeper into tier IV cities and beyond. However, given that our platform can be accessed from the mobile as well as the web, the participation and the content lurking can happen from any part of India or indeed the world.

Q. Could you elaborate on your business model?

Qyuki has the following revenue stream – brand sponsorships for premium content channels & Inspirations, subscription for premium services and marketplace and network-based advertising.

Q. What is your advertiser profile like? What kind of advertisers are you looking ahead to target?

We would like to partner with brands where there is a synergy with our own creative pursuits, where there is a desire to engage the Indian youth emotionally. Sample of brands engaged on Qyuki include Samsung, Titan Fastrack, Café Coffee Day, Puma and so on.

Qyuki offers brands a unique consumer engagement opportunity. It allows them to reach out to a super targeted creative community, use the creative community to crowd source new ideas, allows for co-creating brand communication with a creative community, offers a unique opportunity to gauge the consumer emotional pulse of creative communication, and offers an association with specific genre of creativity.

Q. How will Qyuki be effective as a platform for advertisers to leverage?

It will definitely be a platform for advertisers to leverage and reach the right target audience. Qyuki is experimenting with unique initiatives for monetisation and consumer interaction with brands. Instead of passive display banner ads, Qyuki is engaging brands with its creative community to create content on themes relevant to the respective brands’ proposition and offering. This is done through ‘Inspirations’ on Qyuki, which are ideas/ thought starters for users to begin their creative journey. These branded inspirations are proving to engage users at a much deeper level with brands than vanilla clicks on banner ads.

Following are two big campaigns that Samsung and Puma leveraged using Qyuki.

For Samsung Galaxy Note II: The incredible art piece - this was a global initiative by Samsung to create a digital art installation to break the Guinness World Record for the most artists contributing on a single piece. Qyuki ran this collaborative project on its platform and was able to generate more than 100 creations across art and photography.

For Puma: To promote its newly-launched El Rey range of lifestyle shoes, Puma tied up with Qyuki for the ‘El Rey was here’ campaign. Users are asked to buy El Rey shoes and then submit their travel pictures with the pair of shoes. Two best entries got the chance to go for an all-expenses paid trip to Spain.

Q. Will advertising be the biggest contributor to revenues? How much will it contribute?

Advertising will be a key contributor on the platform once we have scaled to a large user base. We would like to keep an even split between branded content/ sponsor, subscription/ marketplace and advertising from a revenue perspective.

Q. Thanks to social media there are new genres of music that is getting popular in the Indian market. How are you working towards to introduce more of these new genres via your platform?

We are opening up our platform and curating ‘premium channels’ on Qyuki to target these new genres. ‘Bandstand’ on Qyuki is an example of how we can co-create with top talent on Qyuki and promote new genres. We will be launching several more of these initiatives in the coming months.

Q. What can we look forward to from Qyuki in 2013?

We would like to position Qyuki as a one-stop self channeling content hub in India in the next one year and will continue to innovate with technology. We are exploring the marketplace concept further for greater collaboration. We will be announcing some large initiatives that will demonstrate Qyuki’s thought leadership in integrating both online and traditional medium such as TV and radio.

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