When Chennapanaidu Darapaneni moved back from the US in 2007 to India, little did he know that the answer to his quest of doing something in the B2C space lay in the space itself. Naidu was running Versant Technologies – an end to end system integration company specialised in Oracle Retail and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Implementations at that time. Versant was more of a B2B service company and since Naidu wasn’t sure what exactly he wanted to do in B2C, he started attending a lot of events and seminars to know what is happening in the industry. And, as they say, “What you seek is seeking you.”
Naidu found that attending these events was a pain as there wasn’t much information available about the events beforehand. Ticketing, badge printing, meeting other attendees were the other challenges. Hence, he started doing research on these events, often asking attendees how they got to know about the events. Turns out that attendees had limited ways of finding out about an event beforehand, which was either through word of mouth or through scattered information on the net. There was a lack of one proper channel where everything about the event could be known.
Sensing a gap here, he started a portal in 2009 – an event listing, promotion and ticketing platform that connects organisers, delegates, and service providers from across the country. Very tactically, the portal was named ‘Mera Event’ in order to foster that feeling of association with the event of one’s choice.
From selling $150K (INR 1 Cr) worth of tickets in the first year to selling the same 1 Cr worth of tickets in a single day, MeraEvents has come a long way from those initial years when the boom in ecommerce had just started and the startup ecosystem in Hyderabad was still fledgling. That tale is a tale full of learnings and challenges alike.
A year before Naidu rolled out the portal, he started marketing it actively and spoke about it at the events he attended. People appreciated his idea which encouraged him to go ahead. But initial sales remained tepid on account of an immature market. Event organisers were not averse to publishing their events on the portal but were not fully inclined to own the process. Most of the times, they would fail to intimate the startup about event changes which created problems in a smooth execution. Many of the event organisers were not very tech savvy, hence the MeraEvents team would publish the events for them in the beginning.