There are entrepreneurs and then there are entrepreneurs who inspire and motivate others. Rohan Pinto, falls into the latter category. A self-made person, his desire to provide community service to the people of his home town coupled with his passion to do some thing unique, resulted in the creation of Konkan.tv, an online video sharing platform built around the Mangalorean community to showcase their traditions and cultures.
Keep reading to to learn how this amazing individual turned his dream into a reality.
1. You've mentioned that Konkan.tv is an effort to bring lesser known Indian languages to forefront. But for the benefit of our readers could you please elaborate a bit more?
The Konkan region (also called the Konkan coast), is a strech of rugged and beautiful section of the western coastline of India stretching from Raigad to Mangalore. This short stretch of approximately 30,000 square kilometers has a very rich diverse culture tradition and a variety of languages spoken in different flavors (Hindus, Christians and Muslims as well) by folks from various faiths. Well, we as Konkans know about or culture, values and lifestyles. But the world does not.
This site is aimed at using the 2 most valuable senses (ie: SIGHT/SOUND) and use videos as means to popularize the same. Yes, one could upload videos on Youtube and GoogleVideo or on any other similar website that exists out there, but the problem factor is that these minuscule amount of videos get lost in the millions of zillions of videos that exist out there. Konkan.tv is a source for aggregating these videos, and giving visibility to this small sect of folks and lifestyle.
2. How and when did you come across this idea?
I came across this idea 6 months ago and have been working on making it a reality since. After 6 months of sleepless nights and hard work, I have managed to launch Konkan.tv early this month.
3. Why restrict to specific languages? Any future plans to launch similar sites for other languages?
Yes, restriction to the array of languages is to help enable the showcase of languages from this region. The sole reason I do not intend to showcase other languages or regions is because the clutter would make Konkan.tv just another video aggregator. Konkan's are a community, and Konkan.tv is a video showcase for this community alone.
As far as launching similar sites for other communities go, yes, that is a possibility, but only when someone from any particular community steps forward and takes ownership of running such a community oriented site. I will be more than happy to provide the infrastructure and the backend support for making such community oriented video sites possible.
4. How do you obtain the content? Do you allow downloads and if yes, is it legal?
Content comes from communities scattered across the globe and individuals with roots in the Konkan region and also folks who have experiences (travel) in those regions. Currently, I do not allow downloads as the content owners own the rights to the content and it is not within my power to enable downloads of videos not owned by me. Maybe someday in the future I would allow downloads on an opt-in basis from the content owners, where the videos can be downloaded for a fee and the fees collected would go directly to the content owner itself.
5. When did Konkan.tv launch? How well is it being received? Could you give us insight into the demographics? Any significant achievements?
Konkan.tv launched officially on the 1st of December 2006. A significant achievement is that I have been able to showcase exclusive videos from documentary creators. A documentary that has not ever been publicized is now hitting the most watched video on Konkan.tv thus giving the creator/filmmaker publicity beyond what one could achieve via plain word of mouth.
6. Could you tell us more about yourself, your position & other key players/stake holders, if any in this venture? What were you all doing before starting this company & also your previous work experiences?
Well, I am an Identity and Security Architect working for Sun Microsystems. Thats my bread and butter. Konkan.tv is my venture for the community... call it community service if you may. I am based in Toronto, Canada (after spending a long time in the US).
7. Other than the ones mentioned above are there any more in your team? Are you all based in US or India?
Yes there are several folks who support me through this all. Most of them are parallel community news portal providers. As far as the financials, technical and time goes, well, right now it's only me even though I have financial support and backing from "an" angel investor.
8. How is your startup being funded so far? Did you receive any other external funding? If not, do you plan on seeking external funding?
(Currently the effort is funded by myself and an angel investor.) I do plan to seek external funding for expansion as I plan to also setup peer points for streaming videos in various geographic regions especially in India.
9. Few of our readers indicated interest in learning how to go about taking an idea from concept to inception. So, could you please share with us your experiences. For example, did you encounter any initial hiccups while pitching the idea? Could you please explain the process you followed that might help other future entrepreneurs planning to startup?
I follow thumb rule #1, believe and pursue regardless of the hiccups that one may come across. The community is extremely small and like any other community, there always are issues. But however many issues there might exist, one really need the guts and perseverance to go through it all and not give up.... never give up... never ever.
10. What are the key technologies Konkan.tv is built upon and why did you opt for them?
Ah !.. technologies... yes, I use an array of technologies, but prior to jumping into minuscule technical details like a geek I'd surely like to mention that the ace technology that powers this is LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP). Well apart from LAMP, I also use mencoder, ffmpeg, flv2tool, GD, imagemagick, mplayer, libogg, libvorbis, and LAME. The opt-in criteria was one simple reason -- "OPEN-SOURCE".
11. Where do you plan to take Konkan.tv going forward? Is online video really exploding?
You bet it is. This is the next generation television. IPTV is the future. Anybody with an Internet connection could watch TV over IP and yes, I have an "appliance" (set-top-box) that I plan to introduce to the markets that would enable simple folks to view internet videos on their normal television sets using their existing remote controls, without the need for a keyboard, mouse or typing in http:// in their browsers.
12. What is your business/revenue model? Any exit strategy on mind?
My current revenue model is advertising. I am currently running Google Adsense, but am negotiating with Google to stream only video ads on my site. As far as an exit strategy goes, yes, there is one but cannot divulge in elaborating more on it, because it may foil my strategy for expansions.
13. What are some of the challenges in online video space and how do you plan on tackling them?
Limitations are humongous. There currently are many limitations, to start with a few minor ones -- video conversion, bandwidth, streaming real-time videos, storage, collaboration, upload speeds, download speeds, video formats, and resolutions. Yes I have plans to tackle them all, in series. To be honest, that may take me a while, but as I keep growing, and when more folks collaborate with me on this, these issues can be tackled and overcome with ease over time.
14. In your experience, what has been the most effective way to market a service? Also, what do you think would act as a catalyst to drive startups(especially in India) towards success?
The most effective way from my perspective is blogging. If the service is commendable enough, and if bloggers start writing reviews about it, nothings more valuable than having bloggers across the globe reviewing it.
15. What is your take on increasing number of startups in India? Do you see India as a future major tech powerhouse?
You bet. India is a power house for bright ideas and entrepreneurs. India for sure will play a "MAJOR" role in the service industry. As far as my take on the increasing number of startups in India.. all i can say is "the more the merrier".
16. Do you have any personal advice/suggestions for current/future entrepreneurs?
thumb rule #1... believe... and pursue....
17. On a personal front, who is your role model? Also, which websites do you read often?
To be honest.... my role model is one of the lesser known individuals.... "Kevin Mitnick"... and I have my reasons for it... which many may not agree with.
18. How did being an entrepreneur affect your lifestyle? Do you get enough time for yourself/family?
Not really..... let me be seriously honest here. The time I spend on my work, professional and personal (like konkan.tv).... my wife and kids hate it.... but their belief in me and silent support keeps me going. It makes me feel very guilty at times, but I try my best to do my part. I do spend a lot of time with my family and try to do my "other" work in the nights by cutting out on my own sleep hours. So, if someone has to bear the brunt of negligence, it would be me myself and not my family. They are more important to me than anything else in this world.
19. Our final question, one thing that you love the most?
My wife daughter and son.
20. What is the question you would like to answer and still nobody asked you?
Thats a good one...It probably would be... "Rohan would you setup a datacenter on the moon" ?
Rohan Pinto is an alumni of two prestigious institutes in Mangalore, St. Aloysius College and NITTE. He was born and brought up in Mangalore and passed out from NITTE with a Computer Science and Engineering Degree.
His first job was that of a teacher at the Megabyte Computer Academy in Valencia at the tender age of 16. He says "My first pay cheque made me feel so rich, even though it was just 500 rupees a month." He later taught at the ISCT (International school of Computer Technology) in Hampanakatta, Mangalore. Soon after that he moved to Mumbai and worked as an instructor at Aptech in Andheri.
Like most Computer graduates, moving to the United States was a dream which Rohan managed to fulfill at the earliest. His first job in the US was again as a teacher (on a sub-contract via Datanet Systems Corp and Sytel Inc. ) at the University of District Columbia (UDC) in Washington DC. However, he moved up the corporate ladder ending himself up at the prestigious Sun Microsystems where Rohan succeeded in making a radical career shift from the teaching profession to software security and identity management architectures. There was no looking back thence, though Rohan admits that he has a deep respect for the teaching profession. "Co-incidentally my mother and grandfather are also teachers... my grandfather Peter N. Sequeira (from Kalpane, Kulshekar) taught at the Padua high school, Nantoor and my mom Juliet Pinto still teaches there", he says proudly.
Rohan is a self-confessed *nix and java geek who presently works for Sun Microsystems in Toronto, Canada, as Chief Identity and Security Architect.
This Konkan fella is gonna make his community proud.