Thursday 24th January 2019

    This Retail audio/video analytics company powers the music you hear in stores and coffee shops!

    Bengaluru-based Radiowalla creates and curates customized audio content for the store radio of retail chains, for shopping malls and hospitals’ background music, and for employees and customers of large corporates. Speaking exclusively with TradeBriefs, Harvinderjit Bhatia, CEO and Co-founder, Radiowalla talks about the initial challenges the start-up faced and how today it wants to expand its operations to the US, the UK and Singapore and take its reach to 100,000 serviced locations. Excerpts:

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    Can you brief about your start-up Radiowalla?
    Radiowalla was incorporated in 2010 by my co-founder Anil Srivatsa and me to create a B2B platform to stream music and non-music content to the Retail Stores. We realized that In-Store was a media dark space and there was an opportunity to have a sustainable and scalable business model of an In-Store radio.

    Music being an integral part of any retail environment; the concept was well known to the Retailers. So we didn’t have to sell the concept but had to invest in people and innovate with technology to distribute, manage the content remotely and service the clients without any incremental hardware cost at the retailers end.

    How did you chance upon the idea of creating music specifically for retail stores and others?
    In-store Radio as a concept was well known in International markets but was not prevalent in India due to lack of infrastructure to manage the content digitally from a central location. All the retailers were primarily sending CD’s or Pen Drives to their Stores with the music to be played every month. This was resulting in lot of repetitive music being played at the Store thereby leading to Store Staff playing music of their own liking. This in turn led to increase in music piracy (playing of non-licensed music) at the store level and multiple kinds of music being played based on the liking of individual store staff leading to disconnect of the brand with their customers.

    We decided to provide a service (SaaS model) whereby both the pain points of the Retailers, i.e. Music consistency across stores and Piracy at the store level were addressed and a transparent reporting to the corporate team of the Retailers was provided on a real time basis.

    What were the initial hiccups faced by the company in launching such a unique concept?
    We had to instill confidence in the Clients to allow us to integrate into their IT infrastructure due to the security concerns for data breach. Being a start-up, it was a challenge and had to work very closely with their team to get them on board. Raising finances for a B2B business was tough as most of the Investors were looking for a B2C business model.

    Radiowalla has followed a traditional approach to building a business based on the strong foundation of business that takes into account relationships, customers and a steady rise of revenue year on year and not to create the bubble of valuation.  Quietly and silently Radiowalla has earned the position of trust and leadership in the space of custom in-store radio and audio solutions to its growing retail client base of over 250 brands with a healthy growth in revenues.

    What are the other unique services Radiowalla offers to its customers?
    The new tech team has helped Radiowalla to launch a DIY platform which enables customers to manage and maintain audio services with a few clicks of a button. This platform now is poised to enable Radiowalla not just to improve process but to acquire the long tail of retail that account for over 75% of India’s retail community who are currently not served by a managed service provider. Existing Retailers now have the use of Radiowalla’s aPulse audio signaling to detect customer presence once they enter the store and allow them to interact with the customer in revenue generating contextual messaging and also helps the Retailers with trend analysis. 

    Radiowalla has created a unique Audio Media Platform where the advertisers have started advertising their products to reach to the shoppers present in the retail stores, thereby enhancing the possibility of the sales at the stores and also create a monetization tool for the retailers from their personalized radio channel in their Stores.

    With its latest revenue generating technology deployed with Retailers in India and Indonesia, Radiowalla has entered the space of Video Analytics using Artificial Intelligence (PixAI) that is based on a Deep Learning platform. . Radiowalla’s Video Analytics tech team now helps the Retailers to measure footfalls, analyze customers and their shopping behaviour to further optimize their operating efficiencies. We help Retailers and Mall Developers to track the People Count of their visitors and providing a demographic profile of their customers (male/female, age group and time of their visit etc.) without breaching any privacy of an individual.

    Radiowalla has now demonstrated need for its Audio and Video products among the Retailers community and their applicability in multiple other Sectors. It has commercially deployed these products successfully, staying with the company culture of building business on a firm footing. With over 12,000 stores being serviced in India and other overseas markets, and with a reach of over 800 million shoppers listening to In-Store radio, Radiowalla has become the largest player in India.

    How do you see the competition for your services?
    First of all, competition is good. It keeps us all on our toes. Even as the in-store radio space is not very competitive in India, we see it as an opportunity to improve. Today Media, like advertising, is a client servicing and technology play with equal measure of importance to stay in business. Radiowalla has consistently invested in developing technology that is best in class and this is what keeps us ahead of the competitors. Today we have technology that is best in class in Indian market and in many cases even better than the global players in the space. We hope to design technology and service offerings for global markets going forward.  

    Our company believes that a team that is vested with ownership will take care of customers like their own and we constantly aim to instill that ownership starting with stock option to the team. Our constant goal is to ensure the customer has a pleasant experience dealing with us through courtesy, talent and professionalism. Part of the responsibility of a leader in any space is to inspire the trailing competition and challenge them to rise to the higher standards set by the leader and we have taken that responsibility seriously.

    Do you think the Indian government needs to be more pro-active in their actions as far as your services are concerned? We are not looking for any subsidies or grants from the Government but it will help if there are clear and transparent Guidelines/ Regulations and a functional Regulatory Authority to regulate the pricing of Music Rights in the country. This will help all stakeholders in the industry to increase the compliance and bring in transparency in distribution of music royalties to the rightful owners.

    We are working closely with the Music Labels through the societies and representatives managing their rights to ensure that all the music played in retail stores is licensed and digital logs can be provided to the owners/ representatives to enable them to distribute their members music royalty share in a transparent manner.

    How does the company plan to expand its services to other countries?
    Radiowalla has expanded its reach in UAE, Bahrain, Indonesia and SriLanka and is focused to grow the business in South Asia and Middle East markets in the near future. All these are matured retail markets and have a very reliable IT infrastructure enabling us to provide our audio and video solutions to our clients on real time basis. Client servicing and providing a quick turnaround to meet our Clients requirement is our USP and we believe that it will help us in retaining and growing our businesses in International markets.

    How do you see the future for Radiowalla?
    The future of Radiowalla is driven by a core philosophy of putting an Indian company on the map with best in class technology, client servicing and pricing strategies. Now couple that with business interests for our shareholders and the company, Radiowalla has been steadily growing at a rapid pace over the last few years. Our Client base has grown by 12x and the number of Stores have grown by 10x over the last 6 years.  We expect this strong growth to continue and as we expand our presence across different markets, we see overseas markets to drive this growth for us over next 2-3 years horizon.  

    We have a great experienced team, led by our COO and CTO, which manages the day to day operations from our offices in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Also increasingly we would see our audio and video technology platforms help us reach out to the long tail in the Indian retail market and establish small and emerging retail chains as a major driver of revenue for us. It would be a task well done when Radiowalla shares the same platform with other international players and have them follow the path we blaze! 

    - TradeBriefs Bureau