Exclusive: An Interview with Mr. Rohit Chadda, CEO of Zee Digital
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In line with our publication’s motto of supporting entrepreneurship and evolving business culture in India, I took the opportunity to interview Mr. Rohit Chadda, an investment banker turned business leader and presently the CEO of ZEE Digital.

 

In his recent interview with us, Mr. Chadda shared some interesting insights into his professional career, life goals, vision of Zee Digital and his success mantra in this rewarding journey as a successful entrepreneur.

Excerpts From the Interview

Here are the excerpts from the interview with Mr. Rohit Chadda:

Impact of Digital India Initiative

1) How has the Digital India initiative helped in the growth of the Media and Entertainment industry in the last few years?

A) The Digital India Initiative has helped reach every nook and corner of the country owing to the deep penetration of mobile services because of cheaper data plans, digitization of India has begun on a bigger scale than before.

The number of smartphone users in India is estimated to reach over 760 million in 2021 and thereby taking India into the digital space.

In the financial year 2020, the penetration rate of smartphones in India reached 42 percent and was estimated to reach 51 percent by the financial year 2025.

It has more than doubled from the financial year 2016, when only 24 percent of the mobile subscribers were using a smartphone. In 2020, the volume of smartphone shipments across India was around 149.7 million.

The boom in the smartphone segment has aided in the growth of the Media and Entertainment industry. Content and videos are now very accessible for the users easily as a result there is a big boom in the industry.

Digitization has helped create a new market for Media and Entertainment industry as now users can easily consume content and videos on their mobile phones. Data cost, and new infrastructure has helped bridge the gap.

Scope of OTT Platforms in the Development of India

2) What is the scope of OTT in the cultural, technological and economic development of India?

A) It may come as surprise to many, but the viewing time for television in India has increased by over 70 billion minutes to 959 billion minutes per week. Owing to the present situation of the pandemic, a rise of 8 percent as compared to pre-pandemic days – as per a BARC-Nielsen study on Covid-19 and its impact on TV and smartphone viewing.

Since people were starving for entertainment on a regular platform during the lockdown days, saw a drastic rise in people relying on digital content, thus leading to an increase in dependency on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. In fact, according to a PwC prediction, revenues from OTT videos are expected to reach $30.6 billion in 2022. That is not all BARC-Nielsen’s study also adds that the age group between 2 to 14 spent a lot of time watching the online content. The increase in viewership among this group was the highest, at 20 percent.

According to the Media and Entertainment Outlook 2020, India is likely to emerge as the world’s sixth-largest OTT (over-the-top) streaming market by 2024. The market is expected to post a CAGR of 28.6% over the next four years to generate revenue worth US$ 2.9 billion.

It has been a definite win for OTT Platforms in the digital markets in India over the Pandemic. They have been termed as the driving force that led the growth of the Entertainment Industry during a crisis and supporting this analogy, there was a recent forecast by Ampere Analysis, BCG, Magna global, and Ovum with expectations of the Indian Video OTT market to grow in huge numbers.

If we are talking about OTT Platforms around India then it is evident that we have many platforms from where we can watch and enjoy our favorite movies, TV series, animations, and many more. But, as mentioned above the scenario might change with new OTT Platforms coming up and competing with the established players in the market.

Mr. Rohit Chadda’s Secret Formula Behind His Successful Entrepreneurship

3) Having won several prestigious accolades as an Entrepreneur, what has been your success mantra (formula) through your budding stages of professional career?

A) For anyone who knows me understands the fact that challenging the status quo and challenging myself constantly is my mantra for life. My constant effort is to build efficiency and to increase optimization with the present resources available.

I am looking for new ways to bring ease into the work we do so that we are learning continuously. I never rely on my past achievement I try to keep moving ahead.

This helps me perform better, having worked in varied industries there is one thing that I have realized is that your business understanding is the key to everything no matter what sector you are working in.

And my work all these years has helped build strong business fundamentals which have helped me create two successful start-up ventures as well.

Never forget no one else is going to push you, so it is up to you to do it. Taking risks has a dangerous side, but the opportunities they present often far outweigh the potential dangers. Learn how to identify which risks are worth taking and you will likely become a more successful entrepreneur.

Golden Advice to Young Entrepreneurs of India

4) What is the one thing you always like to tell our young Entrepreneurs of India in their quest for success?

A) Success is internal and not external. Don’t go by what others definition of success creates your own otherwise, you will always be running after external validation for anything you do. Ask yourself why before you jump into something and do it for the right reasons.

Don’t follow the crowd make your way. Pick up a problem that you feel for and look for an answer with your business idea. Find something that can work in the long term rather than a short-term business plan. Starting a business begins with an idea, followed by hours of research and reaching out to people that can help.

Having a solid concept, well-researched information and a strong network will set your future business up for success. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to challenge yourself. No one else is going to push you, so it’s up to you to do it.

Taking risks has a dangerous side, but the opportunities they present often far outweigh the potential dangers. Learn how to identify which risks are worth taking and you will likely become a more successful entrepreneur.

And lastly, before you make a financial plan, raise capital, or even choose a name, make sure that there is a customer who would buy your product or use your services. Without a customer, you do not have a business.

Future Growth and Vision of Zee Digital

5) How do you foresee the future, growth and vision of Zee Digital in the Media & Entertainment industry?

A) We have come a long way in our journey from the 9th position in the market back in 2019 with 75 million users to 2021 where we reached a new milestone with over 300 million users. Our plan now is to further solidify our position across each of our platforms and to reach newer and greater heights. Our special focus will be on users from both content and product consumption point of view. The plan is to ensure that each of our brands advances to become a leader in its category.

We plan to continue our strong focus on vernacular languages in India. We’ve launched digital-only news brands in Telegu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada to expand our reach in South India. Further our digital brands like India.com, BGR, Bollywood Life and The Health Site shall also see the introduction of more languages to make their content available to a larger audience in the country.

Additionally, seeing the excellent growth of our international news brand WION, our flagship brands like Zee News, India.com and DNA shall extend their digital news coverage for key western markets which shall further boost our international revenues.

Emerging Tech Trends Impacting Media & Entertainment

6) Which emerging tech trends do you think will have a greater impact on the Media & Entertainment industry and why?

A) Media & Entertainment industry is very people-driven, from concept to production to execution. The end goal is to engage the user to be it be in print or digital platforms. The industry is already working on building efficiency to bring new technologies into the picture. At Zee Digital we have also done a lot of work on this front on content creation and recommendation, video creation and optimization by keeping the users in mind. And the road ahead will be full of new tech trends that will pave the way to achieve greater heights.

A Brief Overview of Mr. Chadda’s Professional Career and Accomplishments

Rohit Chadda is an investment banker turned business leader with two successful project exits behind him. He is currently leading the digital publishing business at Zee group (Zee Entertainment, Zee Media and DNA) on the back of rich global experience across e-commerce, OTT, fin-tech, payments and media & entertainment industries.

Zee group (Zee Entertainment, Zee Media and DNA) comprises a portfolio of 20 brands across 12 languages covering content in News, Finance, Entertainment, Healthcare, Sports and Technology. Out of the portfolio, 8 brands and 3 languages were launched by him within the last financial year itself i.e. FY2019-20.

Rohit Chadda also led the launch of ZEE5 (the flagship OTT of Zee Entertainment) across 170+ countries covering market entry, distribution strategy, content strategy, subscription & monetisation strategy, product & payments strategy and legal/compliance for all markets.

Earlier, he also managed fin-tech business of Essel Finance (financial services business of Zee group) covering insurance aggregation, mutual funds and personal finance before it was sold by the group in 2019.

Rohit Chadda has received various accolades through his professional career. He was named Fortune 40 under 40 in 2015 and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 by Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM). His other awards include Young Professional of the Year by Asia Retail Congress 2014, Top 25 e-commerce professionals in 2015 and Professional Entrepreneur of the Year 2014.

His first successful venture was foodpanda.com, the world’s largest food ordering platform. He was responsible for developing the category to one of the fastest growing ecommerce verticals in the World. Foodpanda expanded to 40+ countries before being bought by its global competitor Delivery Hero.

After the success of foodpanda, Rohit Chadda founded fintech startup PayLo in order to solve the lack of payment acceptance infrastructure in emerging markets.

He has been featured by Forbes, Fortune, The Economic Times, Business Standard, CNBC and various other newspapers/magazines, besides various entrepreneurship and startup shows on TV channels like CNBC TV18 Young Turks, CNBC Awaaz entrepreneur. Rohit Chadda speaks on various subjects like digital payments, retail, ecommerce, venture capital, consumer technology, food tech & entrepreneurship at various forums worldwide.

Education

Rohit Chadda completed his masters in management (PGDM) from Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM Calcutta) and was awarded 100% merit scholarship sponsored by Aditya Birla Group for both years of his education.

Only ten students across all IIMs are awarded this scholarship and Rohit was among only three students across IIMs who were awarded the scholarship for both years. Prior to his management degree, Rohit did his computer engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technology University).

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