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Interview: Rahoul Bhaargava, Founder & CEO, Creative Antenna


Creative Antenna was established by Rahoul Bhaargava in the year 2013, when he realised the existing gap in the growing digital and mobile India. With an extensive understanding of audio content and consumption patterns backed with years of experience in the field of digital and audio content, Creative Antenna caters to Radio, Mobile and Web through Content Aggregation, Brand Solutions, Mobile Games, IVR Modules and Consultancy.

Rahoul Bhaargava, Founder & CEO, Creative Antenna 
The young workforce in a short span of time has enabled Creative Antenna to become a leader in producing quality Voice, Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and Text-based content services. It has partnered with all major telecom operators in India, other Asian countires, Africa and the MENA region. The company is supported by a strong network of 14 production houses across India and products in more than 14 languages offering a vast range of services for its customers.

A loved and popular radio jockey and producer for over 7 years with Radio City, Radio Mirchi and My FM, his shows – ‘Kal bhi Aaj bhi’ and ‘Chandni Rateein’ remain iconic radio shows that set the pace for theme based shows on radio in the country. Rahoul was also the Regional Head - Content Development, Acquisitions and Alliances with Spice Digital Limited. He graduated in Bachelors in Science (Marine Engineering) from BITS Pilani and went on to pursue an Executive Program in Business Management from IIM, Kolkata.

In an excluusive inyterview with Startup Terminal; Rahoul Bhaargava, Founder & CEO, Creative Antenna shares more insights about his venture and industry overview.

Excerpts:

ST: What prompted you to start your venture in an industry which is quite unique in itself?

Rahoul Bhaargava: I had lots of Ideas which I wanted to experiment & implement. This can only be possible in your own set up. I also felt caged in a job scenario and was looking for work freedom & financial independence.

ST: What has been your journey so far?

Rahoul Bhaargava: I passed out as a Marine Engineer in 2002. Started working in the merchant navy but didn’t like the job. After coming back, I joined a call center in Pune just for kicks. While working there I came across an advertisement for Radio Jockey at Radio Mirchi. I went ahead and gave my audition. They liked me and I was selected. I worked in Pune for a year and then got a break with another radio channel - Radio City in Mumbai. The year was 2005. I worked in Radio City for 3 years and grew from a Radio Jockey to a Programming Head. In 2008 I left Radio City and joined Spice Digital – a mobile Value Added Services company. After working for a year I quit and decided to start my own venture. After trying out a few things,  I started my company Creative Antenna - which operates in the mobile Value Added Space - from my living room with no client. I made pitches to all telecom operators regarding mobile radio as a product. Having worked previously in a leading FM channel, I understood Radio very well. I also understood entertainment on mobile and the growing need for it. After facing multiple rejections I finally got my big break when a leading mobile operator decided to try out my mobile radio product. Within months, the usage grew and the product became extremely popular with customers. Soon other telecom operators also asked me to deploy my mobile radio for them. That was the start of our success story. Today we give content to all major telecom operators in India.

ST: How has Creative Antenna been able to change Audio Content industry landscape in India?

Rahoul Bhaargava: Our mobile radio has only non-music elements i.e. no songs.
We didn’t have the money to buy song rights so I devised a radio format which didn’t require music or songs to entertain customers. Radio without songs was not thinkable till we did it. 
This was a clutter breaker which customers thoroughly enjoyed.

ST: What is your team strength? Do you have any immediate hiring plans? What are your expansion plans?

Rahoul Bhaargava: Current strength: 15. We are now looking to expand internationally and hence looking for bright exceptional talents to join us.

ST: How do you promote your products?

Rahoul Bhaargava: We run typical white label product for the telecom operator hence the telecom operator only promotes our products via sms, cell info display, IVR modes.

ST: How is 5G going to impact Audio content industry in India?

Rahoul Bhaargava: The tier I customer will listen to more curated content in Audio. The tier II and below will see more consumption of video content.

ST: Do you see any challenge for start-ups like yours to scale up at a fast pace?

Rahoul Bhaargava: Getting into a telecom operator is the biggest entry barrier. There are multiple stakeholders who need to give their go ahead before a service like ours is launched. This takes a lot of time. Also TRAI has issued strict guidelines about sending promotional messages to customers which has adversely hampered the business.



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