We are a space where brands will find value: Firework India CEO Sunil Nair

Nair shares his vision for the platform and how it aims to hit 100 million Monthly Active Viewers by mid-2020

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Jan 23, 2020 1:25 PM
Sunil Nair

What is Firework doing differently from other video sharing content platforms? The company is creating a space for professional creators through user generated content, empowering them to produce quality stories in just 30 seconds. It is also enabling professional creators monetise the content.

From collaborations with well-known Kannada film director like KM Chaitanya to short format news with celebrated journalist Faye D’Souza and strategic content partnership with Rainshine Entertainment / Lightstream, Firework is aggressively pushing an elevated video experience for its users.

Even though it’s only been 4 months since their launch in India, Firework already has over 400 plus creators on board. Often compared to social media app TikTok, the company insists it’s not exactly in the social media space.

We caught up with Sunil Nair, CEO & MD, Firework India, for more on how they have fared so far and how they intend to stand out in an overcrowded video market.

Excerpts from the interaction:

Could you share your journey with Firework so far?
I have always had challenging roles in my professional life and I have been in the media business for decades, hence with the current role at Firework I am delighted to address a fresh set of challenges as the dynamics are very different. Short video is certainly a busy space to be in and allows me to think a lot more creatively not just from the business point of view but also from the way short format content can get created at scale. So far it has been very exciting indeed.

What has Firework achieved since its launch in India? What is your vision for the platform?
In just a short period of time we have gone beyond our own expectation as far as the numbers are concerned. But let us just not limit ourselves to the numbers. We have managed to produce short video mini-series with the likes of KM Chaitanya, Rajeev Khandelwal, Flora Saini and plenty more on the way. We have innovated in short format news with Faye D’Souza. We have already announced our strategic partnership with Rainshine Entertainment / Lightstream who will produce top of the line content for us and there are plenty more collaborations that you will hear about in the next 30 days or so. However it is important to note that we have already successfully developed a very positive reputation in the country-which could otherwise take ages.

Given the tough competition in the social media space, how is Firework poised to ensure success for its app?
We are not exactly in the social media space. You may have seen that there are no likes and comment functions on our platform and we are focused on generating professionally generated content. We are a short video network that is focused on creating great quality content that is relevant to the urban young. The youth in India are very intelligent and very discerning. We would like to think that we understand their pulse and our team is working hard to offer content that is compelling and yet not cringy. We have tech and human enabled processes in place which filters any content that may not be suitable for viewing. We take initiatives to ensure that we operate with enough sensitivity in a diverse country like India. Hence our content moderation is one of our top priorities. We are heavily invested in ensuring we provide a safe environment for all our partners. We are making significant progress in ensuring that our platform brand integration capabilities which will help us monetize our content. While 3 months is a very short time, all indications suggest a very exciting future for us here in India.

How do you plan to monetise the app. Could you share your revenue model?
While monetization is certainly the objective, everyone must understand that it is a process that begins with the right acquisition strategy. We do not intend to get out there and buy users for us to showcase a stick figure of a massive user base. Our acquisition strategy is purely intent based and for that to work we are putting out great content out there. We provide brands the ability to integrate into great storytelling, we help people who create professional content with massive reach. In the future we will explore video commerce and community chats that allows a creator to move beyond just creating content for Firework.

We are a space where brands will find value as we focus on deeper and meaningful engagement, rather than passive viewing behaviour that is generally seen in the space. This certainly is the most important revenue channel that we have.

In an overcrowded market how will you ensure that Firework stands out? What will be your USP?

As mentioned earlier our USP is meaningful, compelling content with a sharp eye on moderation. We do not believe that short format video needs to be frivolous to gain traction. The youth in our country is intelligent enough to engage with our platform purposefully. In addition Firework, as a product, is built with strong tech and innovation capabilities. We already have and will continue to offer features that will be disruptive in the short video network space. Reveal and Gemi are examples of that.

What is your view on the digital ecosystem in India. Challenges if any?
India has matured now as a digital consumption market, everything one hoped for in the last 10 years has come true. However Bharat is still maturing in its digital consumption behaviour, but we are progressing rapidly. Both India and Bharat provide the massive potential that makes India such an exciting place.

At the same time brand custodians have to break away from vanity metrics like millions of downloads, billions of video views and focus on quality of audience and engagement, both sides of the businesses have to invest time and effort to build meaningful platforms that are symbiotic. We invite active dialogue with the brands and the agencies to collaborate.

Could you share your marketing budgets for the promotion of the app here in India and what does your marketing plan look like?
Our marketing plan consists of various strategic collaborations. However, I can tell you it does not feature mindless customer acquisition strategies that we have generally observed in this space. We wish to develop compelling, meaningful content that will ensure organic acquisition of only intent driven users. Our budgets are focused on creating content that are attractive to our target audience.

Could you share the market you will focus on and the target audience for India?
We are breaking out of the Hindi-English duo play and going deep and wide into Indian languages. We aim to hit 100 million Monthly active Viewers (MAVs) by mid-2020.

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