Going by the general lack of information about upcoming events, Chennapa Naidu Darapaneni launched MeraEvents, a company that not only provides event information but also lets you book tickets online.
Number of people registered: 1 lakh
Number of promotional emails sent in a week: 5 lakh
Facebook fans: 6 lakh
Number of hits per month: 3 lakh
Promotional service costs:`3,000-20,000
Number of promoted events per month: 50-70
How often have you read about an event in the newspaper after it has taken place and wished you’d known earlier so you could have attended it? As is often the case, most events are covered by the media only after they take place. While large scale events advertise effectively, smaller but equally good events often miss the public eye. This is where Chennapa Naidu Darapaneni’s MeraEvents.com steps in to fill this gap.
The website not only offers you information about all the events taking place in your respective City but also lets you book tickets for the said events with a click of the button. Founded in 2009, the hugely successful website now has one lakh registered users and sells tickets worth `30 to 50 lakh a month.
Talking about his entrepreneurial journey, Naidu says, “An entrepreneur is one who sees an opportunity in the problem. My journey began when I was doing my engineering in JNTU, Anantapur. Being an evening school, I’d get bored during the day. Being a voracious reader, I realised that the city had no shops selling or renting novels or magazines. That is when I decided to start Friends, a book stall that rented out books. The venture proved to be very successful and it helped me pay my entire course fee and monthly expenditure for my brother and me. A few years after finishing my course I went to the US and launched Versant Technologies with Kiran Edukulla in 2000 with almost zero investments. The company offered software services and HR consulting.”
On winning projects for a start-up like Versant, he says, “A service business does not require huge investments. It is the confidence that will bring projects. What we did was understand a company’s problem and solve part of it so they gained confidence in us. Customers paid us once they were happy with the solution offered.”
Since its inception, the company has grown manifold with an almost 100 per cent growth year on year and even started an offshore centre in India in 2004.
Naidu returned to the country in 2007 and decided to start a business in the consumer market. “It was when I was attending events in the City that I realised that there was barely any event information until it actually occurred. That is how MeraEvents came about. I invested `5 lakh and started the product (website) with many features where organisers can create and update an event, download information and sell tickets through a payment gateway. The product was rolled out in October 2009 after developing a comprehensive website backed by holistic research,” he says.
Talking about the revenue model, he says, “Initially, it was based on ticket sales. We used to charge the organisers 10 per cent of which 4.2 per cent was to paid to the payment gateway. However, over time we changed our model and started charging customers a fixed amount for promotion of an event if they did not want to share the revenues. The event organisers can sell their tickets free of cost on the site by just paying 2.5 per cent towards payment gateway charges.”
Over time, the business has invested more than `2.5 crore towards operations and building the brand. The company currently has a 300 to 400 per cent growth rate in revenues and is expecting a breakeven by the end of the year. They also plan to expand operations to other major cities in the next few months.
The company has also developed two complementary products. It launched moozup.com last November, which is the first of its kind in the country. The website allows people who attend a particular event learn a bit more about the other attendees and arrange for professional meetings later on. It also launched iPhone and Android apps to make the application available during the event. It is likely to launch venues.meravents.com in October, which will help the customer to look for the right venue as per his/her requirement.
Talking about the company objective he explains, “It is not the money that gives satisfaction, but the fact that we are generating employment and changing lives of those working with us that matters.”
On the personal front, Naidu loves to attend spiritual events and makes sure that he goes on a spiritual trip once a year. He also loves spending time with his two children.