Halla is a startup founded by Pavan Kumar. Halla is an online platform for photo and video contest.
Halla is bootstrapped and we will seek funds in 2019. We want to scale halla to next level by getting bigger brands to sponsor contest around their products and services. This needs larger team and infrastructure, hence we need funding to accelerate our growth, says Pavan.
We got an opportunity to catch up with the founder. Pavan has an inspiring journey as a startup founder. Apart from Halla, he is also the founder of 2 other startups, check out his journey by reading his full story.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Halla is a photo and video contest platform for amateurs to try their photography skills.
Our contest themes are targeted at common-man and relate to daily life. We conduct daily, monthly, festival and social relevance contests. The winners are chosen based on relevance, quality of photograph/video and likes through various channels.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
Individual talent stays hidden and it is not expressed due to inhibitions or fear of failure. I wanted to solve this problem by creating a platform to showcase hidden talent and halla.in was launched in 2012.
Initially, the platform was kept open to share hidden abilities as photos, video or text. This did not go well with the users as the concept was not understood and we did not get good response.
In 2015, we launched photo contests and could connect easily with users to grow the platform. With the release of our mobile apps and data rates getting cheaper, we added video contests too. Today, halla is the only platform that conducts photo and video contests for amateurs on regular basis.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
This is my 3rd startup. I co-founded one in 1995 and another in 2001. In the 1995 startup, we were the first to provide real-time election results in 1996, order online gifts,online matrimony etc.. We developed software solution for a placement company and eventually sold the IP to them. In the second startup we retailed calling cards for Indian’s living abroad to call India. In a short time, we grew to become a popular portal for Indians abroad. We had to shut the company due to MCI WorldCom fiasco, however, we ended with decent returns. In between startups, I spent 3 decades in corporate world with MNCs and Indian Companies in B2B space in sales, customer services and partnerships.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
I am based out Hyderabad, Vikas is in Mumbai, Ashi in Indore and Ananth in Hyderabad. We are a virtual team, e-connected all through the day and handling well defined tasks. The team works with great synergies and we never felt the need to work out of one place.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
I am paranoid about managing halla brand. Today, we are popular among the youth, housewives and lot of amateur photo enthusiasts. They trust our platform to try their skills and aspirations. We are constantly researching and innovating to keep the novelty of contests by connecting to daily life. We are keen to have more sponsors for the contests and make the platform vibrant and rewarding for users.
Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
It may be a tall claim, but few others tried to emulate our model and failed. Halla.in, continues to be first and only platform for photo and video contests. While few big brands offer photo contests, those are limited and restricted to their own product promotions. The contests on halla.in are social themes and connect with daily life.
How hard is it to have a work life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
In addition to being founder of halla, I am also an angel investor and startup mentor. I spend most of my day with funded startups or with founders seeking guidance and support. I ensure not to conflict my family and personal priorities, while running halla or other startup investments.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
Halla is bootstrapped and we will seek funds in 2019. We want to scale halla to next level by getting bigger brands to sponsor contest around their products and services. This needs larger team and infrastructure, hence we need funding to accelerate our growth.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
We have been quite meticulous in managing the user experience and expectations. Users love us, they send us email and messages, complementing our efforts and the work we do. We want to further this relationship by getting reputed brands to sponsor contests and offer bigger prizes for winners.
What gets you excited about this company?
Our customer trust and belief in us, keeps us going. Though the prize value is small, we consistently get large number of entries and response to our contests. In any contest, only two persons will win. Despite this fact, many enter the fray and post amazing pictures and videos. This reinforces our vision of building a platform that lets individuals share their talent without any inhibitions or fear. Every contest entry or user comment, makes our day and strengthens our resolve to make halla.in better and bigger.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
Each of us has a different day streams. I focus on future and strategy. I spend few hours in a day talking to brands, marketing companies and influencers to promote halla. Vikas looks after the contests, entries, sponsorships from known partners and social media. Ashi, churns out stories and blog for the new contests. Ananth helps us to keep the contests realistic and gain traction among youth.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
I am the founder and started with this idea. Vikas joined us four years back as a social network executive and grown into operations head. In 2016, Ashi came onboard as freelance blog writer and Ananth too to help us in contest design & promotion.
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