[From Left to Right: Alok Nair, Mini Menon & Akshay Chavan]
Mini Menon needs no introduction at all. If you’ve watched and followed business channels on Indian television, you know exactly who she is! Mini has brought us memorable series of shows like ‘Inside India’s Best Known Companies’, ‘The Pitch’ ‘Assignment’ and award winning documentaries like “In Focus”. Now former Executive Editor at Bloomberg TV, Mini has recently turned entrepreneur with Indy Network – a digital media platform.
Presenting an e-interview we did, to get to know “Entrepreneur Mini” 🙂
1. Mini, many congratulations on taking the plunge! From being one of the most recognized business editors on Indian TV, you have now embraced entrepreneurship! What inspired you to start up?
Many thanks! After spending nearly 18 years as a journalist and having been part of some of the most successful startups in the Broadcast News arena (CNBC TV 18 & Times Now) I felt I was ready for the next big challenge of creating rich, clearly segmented content offerings and platforms for much wider audience bases.
Two factors inspired me to start up:
a) The fact that I felt that as a viewer/consumer there were lots of areas of content that are not being addressed. While audiences have evolved, content especially in the infotainment side has not kept pace and
b) I also believe that we are at a significant crossroad as far as the media industry is concerned because technology offers a fascinating array of touch points for the viewer/consumer.
2. What kind of a gap does Indy Network plan to bridge, considering the current content scenario?
We believe that the infotainment arena is under-served – there aren’t enough clear, segmented, world-class offerings for audiences, even though there are so many players in the digital arena. India has transformed, especially over the last decade, and there are a lot of significant gaps that need to be addressed. We have identified key segments where we believe we can create great content and even platforms.
3. From hardcore Business & Politics to Infotainment. From TV to a Digital Platform – how are you gearing up for this change?
It is an exciting learning, unlearning and relearning process and I am thoroughly enjoying it. However having said that, I also believe that the fundamentals i.e. focus on good, solid, well researched and unbiased content creation/journalism hold good no matter where you are.
4. With so much content to consume, curation seems to make a platform stand apart. What three key ingredients form Mini’s secret curation sauce? 🙂
Innovative content, focus and understanding the target group we are looking at are the three that I would point out. However having said that, we also believe that to create a truly meaningful platform it is not enough to just curate – creating original content that is best in class, is also critical.
5. The risk in leaving a cushy job is what holds back many folks from becoming entrepreneurs. How difficult was it for you to decide to leave Bloomberg and bootstrap Indy Network?
It actually wasn’t difficult at all. What we are doing in Indy is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. This is the dream job that I always wanted. It packs in my love for content creation in areas that I am passionate about and throws in the right dose of challenges and opportunities that will make the ride exciting!
6. Choosing your co-founders is the most crucial part about starting up. What do you admire most in Alok Nair & Akshay Chavan?
What I admire is the fact that while we all share the same fundamental beliefs on all the things that matter – passion, hard work, focus; Alok and Akshay also bring unique qualities that ensure that we all complement each other. It is important to have different perspectives and skill sets when you come together as co-founders/partners.
7. Most Indian startup founders feel that their greatest challenge is finding good talent (especially in tech). I read you are looking at hiring 45-50 people by the end of this year. Do you reckon this is going to be an area of concern for Indy Network?
Talent is a challenge for all companies not just startups. In our case it is also complicated by the fact that we are creating unique platforms and content offerings which require domain expertise and the right group of passionate professionals.
However having set up 2 channels from scratch, I am quite confident that we will be able to get the right team.
8. What was the emotion you felt when you updated your LinkedIn and wrote CO-FOUNDER?
Felt excited – this is the beginning of a whole new journey!
9. Who was the most memorable person you have had on one of your shows?
I have been lucky – I have interviewed some of the brightest minds in India and the world but I must say that a person who truly inspired me is Ela Bhatt the founder of SEWA who has created an amazing enterprise impacting so many lives. She has all the qualities I admire in a leader and human being, the greatest of which is humility!
10. If you were to feature one entrepreneur on Indy Network – who would she/he be and why?
It would be the late Dr Verghese Kurien the man behind Amul. I have always regretted the fact that I never got to meet/ interview him. I think Amul is one of the finest examples of social entrepreneurship in India. An idea that created a movement and transformed lives. Also this major social empowerment was based on sound business principles that have held good for decades. We underestimate the challenges in India and we need to learn from successes like Amul.
11. Tell us Mini, what do you do to “stay sane”?
Spend quality time with my 11 year old son. It puts most things in perspective!
12. A startup that inspires you, something you wish you would’ve started (if you hadn’t started Indy Network)
Indy Network and what we are creating through it – is the only startup that I would ever do. The scope of what we are hoping to achieve is truly amazing!
13. Your parting advice to aspiring entrepreneurs out there who are sitting on the fence?
“You live once. Follow your heart and take the plunge
if you find your calling…”
Thank you, Mini. May the force be with you! Best wishes from 12,000 Rodinhooders!
[ps: while the first content pieces will start rolling by the end of next month, the website will be ready in about 3-4 months. we shall update this post with the link then!]