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The word is WOW!

The WoWMakers team

The WoWMakers team   | Photo Credit: By special arrangement

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Kochi-based digital media startup WoWMakers has come from humble beginnings to making explainer videos for international brands.

Jaseem Thayal Shareef and Ralu Rajan Madathil remember the time their entire computer sciences engineering class got into designing. “Our classmate, Vivek Raghavan, made the discovery that there was a crowd-sourced graphic design platform called 99 Designs, where designers around the world compete to win design contests and earn good money. He forwarded a mail saying he won a contest, after participating in 200 contests, and got $ 300…enough money to pay the broadband bill for a year. Overnight everybody in the college became designers.” Over a couple of months, the craze wore off and only the really committed continued.

In 2011, Jaseem, Ralu and Vivek along with Nithin Bekal, Jithesh Lakshman and Deepak Prabhakaran, went on to set up WoWMakers, a digital media studio, the first company incubated at the Startup Village at Kalamasserry and one among a few in the country which makes explainer videos.

They call themselves ‘digital storytellers’ who help explain ideas, products and services through simple and shareable ‘explainer’ videos, usually animated. Their clients include HDFC Bank for whom they have made around 15 explainer videos, Federal Bank, Technopark, Microsoft, Blackberry, IIM Ahmedabad, Govt. of Kerala, Coir Board, QuickHeal Antivirus, Geojit BNP Paribas, Murugappa Group, KSIDC, Startup Village, MobME Wireless, Eastern Condiments and Google (official vendor) among others.

They zoomed in on the explainer video idea as they observed the trend in Silicon Valley back then. “We realised that the video was becoming big, as was individual marketing and social media, and the internet was getting faster. We saw opportunity and realised that explainer videos was where we needed to focus.”

Although it started with a love of designing and branding, the team realised that there were other players in the field and they wanted to do something different in the field. When they graduated from college, they were clear in their minds that they wanted to be on their own, do their own thing.

“But we needed experience and the only way to get that was to work somewhere. We didn’t even know what a startup was when we joined one, Foradian. We were their first employees,” says Jaseem. There they picked up the ropes of starting a business.

Soon he and Vivek left to form their start-up, WoWMakers, in Kanhangad. Ralu, Nithin and Jithesh came in and Deepak followed a day after he finished college.

Sandwiched between a DTP shop and mobile phone recharge shop, in a 100 sq.ft room, they were getting restless. It felt like they were sitting in a shop and feeling creative was the furthest thing. “Every night we’d send out emails to everybody from Ratan Tata downwards telling them about our company and what we had to offer. If we sent out 100 emails, we would have got 10 all-the-best kind of replies,” says Ralu.

The mailing list included Sanjay Vijayakumar, one of the founders of MobME, the only one who got back to them. With help from him, they got some work, notable among them being developing Kerala Tourism’s mobile website.

Around this time the idea of a Startup Village in Kochi was being floated. With Sanjay as their angel investor, they left Kanhangad and arrived in Kochi in February 2012.

And in April headed to the Startup Village and became the first company to be incubated there. Since they were the first in, they had the opportunity, as design partners, to do the complete branding of the Startup Village – from logo to wall designs to posters.

Over the last four years their team has grown to include 20 members, and an office address at Singapore. The overseas address was a necessity, “the moment certain clients from abroad hear India, they start bargaining irrespective of the quality of our work,” Jaseem says.

The average age of the team of founders is 28. They built the team, which today includes script writers, animators, illustrators and others. WoWMakers recently made the video which commemorated 25 years of Technopark.

Not content with just making explainer videos, the team wants to widen the scope of animated videos to being more than just tools of marketing. They want to focus on the non-entertainment side, training is a segment which interests them.

“The potential is huge and these would be more effective than say Power Point presentations. We are developing an Enterprise Learning System for Federal Bank to train its employees. These interactive videos can be effectively used in the banking and human resource (HR) segments,” Jaseem goes on.

Becoming a vendor for Google is a feather in their cap, they are proud to wear. “Companies like Google do not use Indian animation companies, they prefer American ones. It is a source of pride for us. Most of the projects that have come to us have been by word of mouth publicity. We can be counted among the top explainer video companies in the country,” Jaseem says.



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Printable version | Nov 18, 2019 2:54:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/the-word-is-wow/article7582807.ece

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