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On-Line Streaming Is The New Mantra

Friday, August 12, 2016

Subin Subaiah, CEO, Spuul Global

Subin Subaiah, CEO, Spuul Global is an accomplished banker and has held senior positions at leading financial institutions like Bankers Trust Company, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and Standard Chartered Bank. He has led and managed sales teams and executed sales strategies in the commercial banking space in every country in Asia and has managed portfolios of over $25bn in assets and $300mn in revenues. He is also an acknowledged actor, having appeared in over a dozen TV productions and over 25 theatre productions – being twice nominated for “Best Actor” at the Singapore Life Theatre Awards. Driven by his passion for the arts, Subin set up Spuul in 2012 and has been driving the development of the business and the platform to bring Indian content to users since. Subin brings a leadership style that mixes grit and persistence with patience and respect. In conversation with Dominic Rebello, he reveals his belief in General George Patton’s statement: “If a man gives his best, what else is there?” and how this quote has helped him succeed in life

What drives you?
For certain, it is the intellectual thrill of being part of a pioneering enterprise like Spuul. India is a complex market. Breaking it down into its various complexities and aligning solutions to address them is an adventure in itself. That is the way that Spuul makes itself heard in the cacophony of OTT noises that has become prevalent in the market. Of course, the enthusiasm, innovation and commitment of my young colleagues egg me on all the time.

How big is the potential for a business like yours?
It’s massive. You can choose whatever metric you want to – smart phone users, internet penetration, web video consumption – and they all point to India potentially leapfrogging the US to become the second largest OTT market in the world. Now add to that the insatiable demand for Indian movie content of the Indian Diaspora overseas and the potential gets even more augmented.

Any major customers that you now cater to? What kind of numbers do you expect from a business like yours? Any statistics to compare with international standards?
Our major market continues to be India where we attract 60% of our users and growing. Our expectation is that every Indian who has a smart phone in his/her pocket becomes a user of Spuul. That market number itself is reaching 400 million and expanding every day. We have reached about 16 million and we are focused on generating momentum to cover as much of the available gap as possible. Obviously OTT is growing at a much more rapid pace in certain international markets where the eco system is significantly more evolved. I therefore would not hazard a comparison with them, except to say that India is catching up fast.

How do you plan to scale up; raise funds through seed or venture capital or simply grow the old fashioned way through rising turnovers?
Growth will come with fresh capital. A number of prominent VCs and strategic investors are in conversation with Spuul on providing that support. In the meanwhile, as you say, we keep growing organically the old fashioned way.

Who would primarily be your consumer audience?
Frankly anyone who is interested in consuming Indian movie content is our target audience. Spuul is a product which is agnostic on all fronts – devices, payment channels, price points, access environments or geographies. So all are welcome.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
Spuul will certainly be one of the dominant OTT platforms distributing Indian content globally.

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