Read this interesting interview with the Founder of Assemblage Entertainment who dared to dream, achieve and succeed! Be inspired by this extensive interview where he reveals all that it takes to move forward and conquer.
SoS: Share with us your business idea and why you chose this specific business to be an entrepreneur
Madhavan: I have lived and breathed animation over the last 20 years of my life. Yet, I remain amazed that India has not fully scaled the potential this genre of storytelling offers to the audiences. So, when I finally decided to embark on my own venture, I chose animation. From an animation industry perspective, I have had the pleasure of opening up the Indian shores to the global markets in the early 2000s. I have had the privilege of many “firsts” for the Indian animation industry as well – the first CGI animation TV show, the first 3D stereoscopic full-length CGI animated feature film, and much more. Along the way, I’ve made many friends, many colleagues, many peers and most importantly, earned lots of well-wishers. Nothing is more important in business than trust. And this trust led me to set up Assemblage in 2013. I am fortunate to have the trust from my clients, my business associates and most importantly my team – without whom Assemblage would not have been possible. I set sail to achieve yet another milestone in this journey!
SoS: What kind of services do you offer to your clients and list out the key milestones of your business?
Madhavan: We are a feature film and high-quality animation focused full-service CGI animation production studio developing content for global audiences.
In addition to 3D animation, visual effects, interactive content development, visual imagery and production of high quality CGI animation services for features, direct-to-home DVDs, and television series, we are also co-developing, co-curating, and co-producing original content for various distribution platforms.
Key milestones would include working on three full length global theatrical features in three years – a feat unheard of the animation landscape. We co-produced Norm of the North for Lionsgate, Blinky Bill for Studio Canal, and a third feature releasing by Open Road Films in early 2018.
In addition to receiving a wide theatrical release in North America and globally for our feature work, we’ve also delivered content to leading companies such as DreamWorks for its Netflix Original Series “Trollhunters” – a widely acclaimed and award-winning show!
SoS: What makes your business unique and how do you define your marketing strategies?
Madhavan: Being content partners, as opposed to pure animation service providers, like most other studios in the region, is what sets Assemblage apart in the CGI industry. We aspire to participate in the higher-end of the value chain by co-owning the intellectual property rights and creating our own content.
We’re also one of the only few studios in the region that are ‘bonded’ by completion bond guarantors – an integral part of the film financing process for independent producers, to ensure that the film is delivered to its distributors on time and without budget overages.
SoS: What are the plans for your business in the coming future?
Madhavan: We strongly believe that the power of animation has not been fully realised other than what we see largely in entertainment. There is a vast greenfield opportunity where we can combine the emerging avenues of technology and content development in creating meaningful products for several disciplines including medicine, education etc.
We’re also constantly looking to create original content and are co-developing on such projects currently in order to full realise the power of animation. In order to do that, we’re actively looking to set up a team in North America.
SoS: What is the financial model you work with?
Madhavan: We are currently largely a services business model, where the right to the intellectual property resides with the content creators and producers. However, our goal has always been to move up the value chain, which is why we’ve been a strong backer of the ‘hybrid’ model wherein we are not only service providers but also co-producers and enjoy a share of the back-end rights to the recoupment schedules of the features we work on. Our goal is to progress further up the value chain in order to be able to co-own properties along with partners.
SoS: What have been your challenges and the obstacles continuously in your entrepreneurial journey?
Madhavan: Animation is not a kid’s business. As a capital and technically intensive business, there are several challenges to get started and run seamless production facilities. At the start, technology and finance are very critical.
In a short span of time, Assemblage has been able to run a profitable enterprise largely through an acute sense of capital discipline, prudent financial management and creative solutions in terms of deploying human and technical capital.
Obstacles are plenty – but having a solid team to convert every adversity into an opportunity is key. We have a world-class team of technocrats, artists and production professionals who are constantly ideating to make processes more streamlined, optimise resources and ensure that the ‘show goes on’.
In parallel, we are also gradually building our support services verticals which will run in tandem with our core production team to create the business value we envisage for the future.
SoS: What have been the key ingredients that made your entrepreneurial dream a success?
Madhavan: Our endeavour is to constantly strive towards identifying new trends and patterns in an ever evolving animation ecosystem. This is evident in the new ethos we are trying to introduce into the Indian animation industry – the best of multiple worlds that our people have inhabited until now, the culture we foster, the talent we acquire, the technology we deploy, the co-production agreements we enjoy, the work that we bring to India and so on.
We believe animation is a universal language that resonates across geographies and demographics. We use this language to tell our stories, to open up new worlds and to bring dreams to life!
SoS: What is the biggest source of inspiration that keeps you walking through the entrepreneurial journey?
Madhavan: The massive potential that my team and our people have to offer in the global context is an inspiring kick-starter for my entrepreneurial journey.
And the ability to reach out to global audiences, and see them appreciate the handiwork of Indian artists and resonate with our content is a proud feeling. There is nothing more fulfilling than taking India to the world.
SoS: What would you want to convey to the budding entrepreneurs?
Madhavan: I began my entrepreneurial journey at the young age of 54. To all budding entrepreneurs, I’d say it is never too late! All one’s got to do is start somewhere – the jigsaw will come together in the end – at least that is the hope! Of course, I’m a strong believer of hard work and there are no substitutes for that. No shortcuts, but if there is a conviction, there is most definitely a way!