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Building a large creator community independent of influencers: Firework’s Sunil Nair

The video sharing app hopes to have about 50 to 100 mn DAU in this year or so.

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MUMBAI: If you thought the world had enough of short format content, it's about to change that perception. Going beyond lipsync, filters, influencer dependent videos, Silicon Valley-based short-video making app Firework is looking at shortspan storytelling and building a large creator community which is not dependent upon influencers.

After a few days of its launch in the country, Firework gave the mandate of its Indian business to Sunil Nair appointing him as the CEO and MD for its India operations. Nair has been associated with content creation for a long time but that of a different format. Having spent nearly seven years with ALTBalaji, he has experimented with long-format fiction shows but the arena of short-format is new to him. Nair finds the new journey more interesting as telling a story in 30 seconds demands the content to go beyond gimmicks.

Nair claimed that younger audiences like teens are not committing time to watching an entire  show because there are too many things that the generation is doing. According to him, all the content they consume is between all the other things they are doing resulting in smaller attention span.  

“Short format as a content feature became popular in China and it is also popular in all countries where there is long commute time because when you are in a bus, or a cab, or train and trying to watch content you cannot watch 1 hour show, you can watch 20 videos because you just flip very quickly. That’s the audience which is far more interesting as compared to an audience which is watching long form content because long form content has set its business. A creator ecosystem is already there, there are filmmakers, there are lots of business strategies. Every OTT service now has set its business in a proper manner that they don’t need to really have a new way of doing things,” he added.

As the conversation proceeded, Nair had shown the quality of content and the various genres including travel, food, fashion available on Firework enthusiastically. He said that an influencer is not going to bring any value to content as they are more interested in bringing people to like them.

“We are saying that creator has to tell us story. It is not about taking a selfie that he or she was in front of Tajmahal as that is meant for friends and family and may be five people outside who would be interested in their personal life. We are saying that can that same creator tell the story of Tajmahal or Shah Jahan or Mumtaz in the same span,” he explained.

Firework, globally, is redefining itself which has got offices in Japan, Latin America, Russia, Poland, USA, Canada, and India currently. In India, the video-sharing app is focusing on Tier1 and Tier2 cities largely. Moreover, it is not restricting itself to Hindi or English content. “Anyone who has a story to tell in any language is welcome,” as Nair put it.

In terms of monetisation, Fireworks would allow brands to come on board in India as it does in Japan and travel, lifestyle, E-commerce brands are showing great interest. Moreover, if any celebrity comes on the Fireworks network , followers who want to have private interaction can pay a monthly price and chat with them. However, he did not reveal the possible price-pointers. He also mentioned that people in Japan are already paying $9 per month to talk to the people that they want to follow. Firework has been widely seen as a rival to TikTok in India. Nair declines to term the social video sharing app as Firwork's competitor.

“I think our creators are the biggest marketing medium. Firstly, we don’t behave like typical consumer marketing. The focus is not on getting 500 million downloads because that’s probably the wrong way of running a business at this time. The focus is on creating good content and getting discovered wherever it can be discovered. So our marketing is largely content driven. So the conventional method that brand head or marketing head coming and saying that you know I need x million to do a marketing campaign does not work. The x million is used by us for creating more content and that getting discovered across wherever it is,” he commented on the marketing strategy.

Talking about objectives, he said that buying downloads is not a way he wants to run the business. He hopes to have about 50 to 100 million DAU in the this year or so which makes it a sizeable media platform. He also aims to have around 10,000 Indian creators in six months across eight-nine languages. The company is looking at creating a massive content-bank in India by working with a lot more film schools, content creators, directors and partners.

“My responsibility is not just to settle India but also to open up to South East Asia and Middle East. We are opening our Indonesia office and we have our Dubai office coming up,” he signed off.

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