An Undue Advantage Is Not What Women Need: Ivy Manohara, Filmapia
Filmapia is a platform for film lovers to explore and book locations for film shoots. We speak to its founder Ivy Manohara at the Digital Women Awards 2019 about how her big idea struck her and how technology has helped her journey till now. Here’s what she says:
How did your big idea strike you?
While watching movies, my CoFounder and I (being movie and travel fans), used to wonder where these movies were shot. We decided to answer that very question and thus started Filmapia (www.filmapia.com) as a hobby website of information on what movie was shot where. As this library grew, we started getting inquiries from Filmmakers to help them shoot at different locations. And as we dug in, we realised the huge opportunity there was because of the inefficient ways of Film Location Scouting. Hence we decided to do our bit in trying to bridge the gap by bringing in Technology and Processes.
How has tech and digital been an enabler in your entrepreneurial journey?
Technology is the key differentiator for our venture, as it gives us faster and a more reliable channel for reaching out to both the supply (Locations) and demand (Filmmakers) sides, via our platform. The entire process of adding, showcasing, promoting, searching, filtering and booking of locations for shoots is streamlined due to the structure that technology moulds us into.
Technology is the key differentiator for our venture, as it gives us faster and a more reliable channel for reaching out to both the supply (Locations) and demand (Filmmakers) sides, via our platform.
At any point in your journey were you stuck with self-doubt? How did you deal with it?
It happens every now and then, when there are low periods in business and we see films being made irrespective, makes us wonder – does the world need us?! But then we have to remind ourselves – ticketing worked even before the RedBus-es of the world, B&B worked even before the AirBnBs of the world and so on. These and the next inquiry or the raving feedback of our clients tell us we are on the right path. And what better validation when Filmmakers themselves say – “Gosh! We need this!” about Filmapia!
What have been your greatest challenges in your journey?
Us being from a technology background, with no connections whatsoever in the Film Industry, we had to learn everything “Film” from the ground up – from procuring location permissions to being the “spot boys” during a film shoot to building a business…all of this the hard way. We did eight years of research before we launched Filmapia as a business two plus years ago. During those years, we worked on weekends and late nights, talking to industry experts at various levels in different film industries in India – all the while holding highly-demanding IT jobs. It was a struggle for sure, but we loved every minute of it! Also, the Film Industry is a much-maligned one, and not the usual domain entrepreneurs get into. Hence, we have had many investors keep away, not to mention well-intentioned friends advising us against it. And as most beginners, we too have challenges of resource crunch of funds and the right people.
From the safe cocoon of the corporate world where everything just appears and works (from staplers to salaries), to creating a Business where I have to make sure everything appears and works (from staplers to salaries), the appreciation for the different aspects of running a Business has exponentially increased. I am constantly pushed to working outside my comfort zone.
As a woman entrepreneur would you say you have faced discrimination in your journey?
No, I have not faced any discrimination in my journey. Having said that, working with the younger generation is definitely easier. They do not discriminate since they are more focused on the result they want. Working with peers and a few contemporaries is a bit difficult as they believe that a woman cannot be a decision-maker is matters of the Film Industry, which has been mostly male-dominated ever since its inception, 100+ years ago. However, as a woman entrepreneur if you are confident, put forth the right message consistently and show that you mean business, even people who discriminate will eventually toe the line. The world is evolving and so are people.
What do you think women entrepreneurs need more of, from venture capitalists, government policymakers, start-up support programs, and others?
I would say it is a good time to be a woman and an entrepreneur. Of course, we have a long way to go where the stakeholders in the business environment give equal credence to women entrepreneurs. The current pioneers (such as SheThePeople) are giving the required push to get more women to step up, step out and dare to walk the untrodden path. An undue advantage is not what we women need – from policymakers, start-up programs or anyone else. What we would need is for all involved to remove the notion of “gender” in their thoughts and disposition.
What would you say have been your greatest learning so far?
From the safe cocoon of the corporate world where everything just appears and works (from staplers to salaries), to creating a Business where I have to make sure everything appears and works (from staplers to salaries), the appreciation for the different aspects of running a Business has exponentially increased. I am constantly pushed to working outside my comfort zone. Where I was mostly interacting with people in the corporate environment, now I have to interact with various types of people at different levels on the ground. I have learned that People Management is the essence of every business! As the entrepreneurial journey continues, I learn every single day…and I am having the time of my life!
What advice would you share with other women looking to become entrepreneurs?
Women, if it hasn’t been done so far, all the more reason for you to start on it NOW!