If social networking is synonymous with Facebook, online shopping with Amazon, then show tickets and entertainment are definitely instantly associated with Bookmyshow, at least in India. In just over a decade, the e-ticketing company has stolen the show with its innovative digital business model, providing moviegoers a hassle-free ticketing option and arming multiplex theatres with higher revenue and footfalls. And all this despite huge external troubles such as the dotcom bust and global sub-prime crisis. From nothing, Bookmyshow has gone on to become a ₹100-crore player with a decisive 80% share in the online movie ticket booking space. Growing at 100% and having turned profitable two years ago, the company has around 400 employees working across major cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.
So, it is not surprising that it has managed to raise ₹250 crore since 2007 from eager investors, including Reliance-owned Network 18, Accel India and Saif Partners. The latest round of equity infusion by Saif Partners has now valued Bookmyshow at ₹1,100 crore. At present, Network 18 holds 40% in parent company Bigtree Entertainment, making it the largest shareholder in the company. The promoters hold 30%, and the rest is split between Accel India and Saif Partners.
While the ₹10,000-crore box-office ticketing market is growing at anywhere between 10% and 50%, Bookmyshow is expanding into new categories such as theatre and events like sports. The potential, then, seems enormous, but is the picture as rosy as it seems?
The early days
In 1999, Ashish Hemrajani was on a backpacking trip in South Africa, taking a break from his two-year-old job at ad agency JWT. Travelling around Storms River Valley, he was sitting under a tree, listening to the radio, when it played a jingle promoting tickets for a rugby match.
Hemrajani was struck by the idea of virtual ticketing. After he returned, he quit his job, persuaded his friends Rajesh Balpande and Parikshit Dar to quit their jobs as well and started a movie ticket selling business through telephone and the internet. The name of their company —