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2015: From employees to employers, a year of transition in media

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MUMBAI: 2015 saw India retain its title of being the world's third leader in start-ups. What is interesting to note is that entrepreneurship not only thrived in the technology sector but also showed a sharp increase in the field of media and entertainment.

Follow the year’s calendar closely and you can see it checkered with launches of new bespoke media ventures and innovative digital solutions companies.

This was the year when we saw creative heads, vice presidents and marketing heads of leading agencies and media houses leaving their plush corporate jobs and taking on the challenge to establish their own companies.

Creative stalwarts like Abhijit Avasthi and Gaurav Seth, who were often considered torch bearers in their former organisations, made headlines as they decided to move on to launch independent agencies.

The world of start-ups is dynamic and unpredictable unlike the stable portfolios that these executives enjoyed until they decided to cut the cord as the lure to explore new avenues and expand their horizons eventually won.

As the year comes to an end, Indiantelevision.com lists 10 such media professionals who embarked on their entrepreneurial journeys in 2015.

     Abhijit Avasthi: The media had a field day when Ogilvy & Mather chief creative officer Abhjit Avasthi put in his papers out of the blue last year. The mystery was    unravelled six months later, when Avasthi announced his new creative solutions start-up Sideways, of which he is a co-founder. Aimed to be a multi-dimensional    creative solutions provider, Avasthi even gave an open invitation to professionals from different industries to join his new venture.

   Ajay Chacko and B Saikumar: Industry veterans and Network18 associates, who severed ties with company almost at the same time, came together    after a long time to team up with media and broadcasting veteran Ronnie Screwvala to form a new digital media company called Arré. The venture aims  at establishing a digital brand, which will offer multi-genre¬, multi-lingual content across video, audio, text and other traditional and new age art forms.

   Barkha Dutt: Media professional or not, there is hardly anyone unfamiliar with this veteran journalist, who anchors NDTV’s prime time shows. Therefore, her  announcement to quit the news network as an editor to start her own digital multi-media company has saddened several fans of Dutt - the reporter. As she firmed up  plans for her new venture, she moved to the role of consulting editor for the news channel, while remaining closely associated as the anchor for The Buck Stops Here  on weeknights and We The People on weekends.

    Cyrus Oshidar: Former MTV man, who is known for his involvement with iconic shows such as MTV Bakra, Roadies, et al, made a comeback this year with what he  does best - telling stories about young urban India. Through videos, photos and tongue-in cheek style of articles, branded content start-up 101 India is designed to  be the window to open-minded listless and creative millennials and what they find interesting.

     Gaurav Seth: Those who have known Gaurav Seth as the senior vice president of Sony Entertainment Television did a double take when he ended his  relationship of over six years with the broadcast network to co-found Purple Canvas. Fresh in the picture, this new content creating start-up already  has its first television series underway.

    Nitin Suri and Chraneeta Mann: When two highly creative individuals get together, the combination always leads to creation and  that’s exactly what happened when former Dentsu national creative director Suri and Rediffusion Y&R national creative director Mann  joined hands to form The Mob. Funded by the wholly owned subsidiary of Mogae Media, the venture aimed to marry television  commercials and content with mobile phones.

       Prakash Nathan: This former UTV Disney India operations head and UTV Motion Pictures vice president too recently rolled out India’s first ever digital media  market titled CineMArkets Digital Solutions along with partners Girish Kumar and Inkswipe Consulting LLP. Backed by his experience of two decades, Nathan is already  leading this CineMArket into new avenues.

     Prashant Bhatt: Colors fiction head Prashant Bhatt, best known for shows likeMadhubala and Udaan, surprised one and all in the first half of the year  by venturing into production. Bhatt launched the new production house - Studio B&M - along with his business partner and cinematographer Sanjay  Memane. The one year old production house is already slated to produce Mastaangi for Channel V.

     Pratap Bose: As the DDB Mudra Group chief operating officer, Bose helmed several path breaking projects and even donned the hat of the Ad Club president.  Therefore his decision to take on the role of an entrepreneur and start his own creative agency - The Social Street came as a surprise to the industry at large. His  former colleagues and associates Mandeep Malhotra, Arjun Reddy and Pradeep Uppalapati were quick at his heel, and joined his new venture as partners.

    S Yesudas: The most recent executive to join the start-up bandwagon is former managing director of Vizeum India and media expert S Yesudas.      Along with partners Ajit Nair of MX Advertising and Amit Tripathi from IdeateLabs, Yesudas plans to disrupt the current industry with their ‘unagancy,’  which is christened triggerbridge. From the way the agency is spelled to its operational objectives, triggerbridge comes across as having an innovative  and modern outlook towards the current advertising space.

There’s no doubt that these ever so crucial moves from leading media houses and agencies have created an indelible void in their respective companies. Whether or not the sudden mushrooming of such start-ups pose any competition to the existing industry leaders, only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure, some of these executives have managed to inspire several of their loyal teammates and colleagues to follow in their footsteps, leaving many empty shoes to fill in their former workplaces.

Even as the curtains draw on 2015, the coming year holds a lot of promise and will see many of them making an impression in the media and entertainment ecosystem.

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