Naandika covers startups, tech, corporate and human interest stories. She holds a postgraduate degree from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM, Bangalore), with specialisation in Business and Investigative journalism. Apart from writing for the magazine, Naandika also handles social media, events and the Blogs section on forbesindia.com. Outside of work, you will find her traveling and exploring new places, volunteering for NGOs, rescuing animals, and mostly spending time around them.
Masoom Minawala and Harshil Karia launch Schbang MMaximize
Influencer-entrepreneur-investor Masoom Minawala and marketing solutions agency Schbang have come together to combine their vast network, experience and global presence to prop up content creators. Through their joint venture Schbang MMaximize, the two will provide a comprehensive platform for creators to build their personal brand. Minawala is one of the first entrants in the content creation industry and has over a decade of experience. The 29-year-old represents brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Bvlgari, Estée Lauder, Samsung, BMW, and Airbnb and has invested in a bunch of startups like Front Row, One Impression, Bliss Club, Stumbl. The fashion influencer has now partnered with Harshil Karia, co-founder of Schbang, who has been her mentor for twelve years. Founded in 2015, the creative and technology transformation company Schbang has served brands like Google, Adobe, Zoho, Amazon, MAC Cosmetics, and so on.
Schbang MMaximize will provide services like image building, identifying revenue streams, and building brand strategy, among others. The idea is to create a business model for India's top creators by combining their creative prowess with their strategy, analytical thinking, industry knowhow, and business acumen.
"For Schbang, this is an important strategic move. It brings us closer to creators and helps us leverage our efficient service standards and access to tech companies and clients to be able to deliver a market-beating service for talent in India and beyond. It will also help the large client pool at Schbang give first-time creators the opportunity to co-create IPs with many exciting creators and celebrities. I could not think of anyone better than Masoom to partner with on this joint venture," says Karia.
In a free-flowing conversation with Forbes India, Minawala talks about how Schbang MMaximize helps other influencers build a sustainable digital brand for themselves, drawbacks in the content creation industry, her take on Web3, and more. Edited excerpts:
Q. Can you briefly tell us about your more than decade-old content creation journey?
I have been in the content creation industry for twelve years now. I have made mistakes along the way. But something that I have been very consistent with is that I've been able to build a bulletproof business around content creation and influence. One of the struggles with content creation businesses is that people are not able to build a consistent and a sustainable business where revenue comes in month after month. I've been one of the creators who have been able to achieve that. I've had steady growth year after year, no matter what. I take the business side of influencing extremely seriously. When it comes to driving revenue, I'm one of the highest grossers in the whole industry, according to statistics. The industry and I have literally grown together, as I was one among the first 10 in the industry.
Q. Why did you decide to foray into talent management?
The whole idea behind Schbang MMaximize is to replicate for other influencers what I have created for myself. Creators and influencers face a lot of roadblocks when it comes to getting brand deals, sustainable income, and continuing to be relevant. When you're relevant, the brand deals continue to come in. I have been able to set up a system where all of this runs extremely smoothly. All creators and influencers don't have that knack and strength because content creation is fundamentally a creative job. So I wanted to step in and help with all the experience I’ve gathered over the years. There was also one huge gap, which I have faced with other agencies and managers. I've always been extremely unhappy because they couldn't provide what I wanted. So I actually started hiring and building an internal team. Having your own team requires a large investment. I'm willing to do it because I'm a risk-taker. But again, every influencer is not willing to do that. So that’s why, without them actually having to make that large investment in a team, we’re creating a structure where they still get all of it.
Q. How is Schbang MMaximize different from the existing talent management agencies?
The business of influencing is not just about negotiating and closing brand deals. It is about building a long-term, sustainable brand, and combining that with relevant content strategy and tracking data analytics. We're aligning my experiences in the industry with my knack for understanding the way influencers work and how you can build a sustainable business with them, and combining that with Schbang's infrastructure and clientele.
We are looking at managing key opinion leaders who have a voice on the internet. It could be anyone, ranging from an influencer to an artiste, celebrity, or entrepreneur. The idea is to build an online brand out of their digital presence. Right now, we have eight creators on board and more in the pipeline. We're being extremely niche and picky about who we're working with. We want to start off by working with a smaller group of people and creating historical examples of what we can do with their digital presence.
What sets us apart is that we understand how dynamic this industry is. It will not be an overnight success that comes and goes, which usually happens with most influencers. And they eventually disappear. Schbang MMaximize will help creators set their businesses in stone, make money from digital mediums, and monetize social media platforms.
Q. What are some of the drawbacks in the content creation industry?
It is a nascent industry. Everyone is learning on the go. There are no set guidelines. We just got legal guidelines, like, literally a year ago. The government regulations came in a year ago. So, we're a very new industry. And I think everyone is trying to figure it out. The foundation, or base, is not that strong. We're working on building it, which is obviously leading to mistakes and screw-ups.
Q. You also recently collaborated with India’s first virtual influencer. What are your thoughts on Web3 and artificial intelligence (AI)?
Technology has never waited for anyone. We either catch up or are left behind. I think what is going to be interesting is to see how Web3 will intertwine with the current need for human interaction that we all have. That's going to be a success story. Because Covid-19 made us realise that human connection is something that we yearn for, Web3, on its own, can't be a success story. It's really about how to bring the two teams together. And I don't think AI is going to replace jobs. But I think people who know how to leverage AI in the right way will be able to replace people who don't.