Urban Shaman: India’s first company to focus on innovative Artist performance

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Urban Shaman is a Mumbai based startup founded by Ian Fernandes and Janvion Rodrigues.
We are India’s only Company focusing on Unusual Performing Art forms.  We work with over 200 of the world most innovative Artists and this includes Magicians, Illusionists, Mentalists, Jugglers, Devil Stick, Slack Liners, Diabolo Artists, Card Specialists, Contortionists, etc. Even with our Indian artists the quality of performances is at an International standard, says Janvion.
We got an opportunity to talk with  Janvion, the co-founder of Urban Shaman. Read his story to know more about his journey as an entrepreneur.
Give a brief info about your startup?
We are India’s only Company focusing on Unusual Performing Art forms.  We work with over 200 of the world most innovative Artists and this includes Magicians, Illusionists, Mentalists, Jugglers, Devil Stick, Slack Liners, Diabolo Artists, Card Specialists, Contortionists, etc. Even with our Indian artists the quality of performances is at an International standard. We do public and private performances, training programs and workshops, etc. Our goal is to raise the standard of these performing arts and also give these artists a steady revenue stream.

What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
We grew up seeing magicians like David Blaine and Criss Angel on television but this quality of magic was not available in India. So that is what we set out to do. We found that most magicians in India use cheap props, their sets are outdated and not engaging, even their scripts were completely plagiarised from other popular artists. As a result customers were disinterested and would pay them poorly. We knew that if the we gave the audience the quality they demanded the they would keep coming back for more and would pay accordingly.
For the Indian Artist, we have lectures, master classes, supply high quality performance props and create job opportunity.
For the International Artists, we primarily see to it that they do not get ripped off in India, we aid in communication, take care of logistics, stage management and help with sponsorship and funding. As we are Artists ourselves we also help them build or source their props locally and this reduces logistics and manpower costs.
For the Hobbyists and Amateurs, we have training programs, books, videos, props that they have access to so that they may learn the right material and enjoy the art form.
For the Audience, we maintain a high standard of quality. They know that if they come for one of our show then they will not be disappointed.
For the NGOs and Charitable Organisations, we are always open to fundraisers or beneficiary show for which we completely waive our performance fee.

 

Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
My past work has strongly revolved around Film Production and Event Management. Even today I have ventures in the Film and Event industry that are still active. I have a very strong background in Sales and Marketing and Operations.

Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?

We have our HQ in Bandra, Mumbai. Ian and I both grew up in Bandra. It is centrally located in Mumbai and it is definitely the coolest place to live or work at. We also keep meeting other artists and celebrities as most of them also live in and around Bandra.

 

As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?

There are many unscrupulous people in this industry.  There are even many (including some God-men) who use magic trick and claim they have powers. Here magic is used to deceive people and make them part with their money. We want every one to know that magic is merely a form of entertainment and nothing more.

 

Who are your competitions and how are you better than them?
At a macro level we have no competitors as most of our services are unique to us. At a micro level we have Artist Managers who do compete with us. Their goal is to maximise their organisations revenue and our goal is to maximise the Artists revenue so we are always in a position to offer a more competitive rate. However, rather than competing with them we are always open to work with them. Also we are in a position to assist the Artist with stage management, material sourcing, etc. which Artist Management Agencies cannot do.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?

It is extremely hard and in all honestly I am barely able to manage it. Currently, I devote most of my time to work which is definitely unhealthy. Luckily I have a very very very very very patient and understanding wife.

 

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.
No, we don’t need to. We have been generating revenue from day 1. We are now considering some bigger ventures like a television show, producing large scale stage show, hosting an International Magic Convention, etc. for which we may require funding.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
When people hear the word “magic” they still think of birthday party magic with doves and rabbits being produced. We want that perception to change and they should think of Las Vegas and David Blaine as well. Unfortunately, the reality is that most magicians in India do focus on having show for children’s birthday parties as that is where the demand exists today. While children’s magic is a skill in itself we would like it if magicians did children’s birthday parties because they wanted to and not because they had to.

What gets you excited about this company?
There has never been a dull day at Urban Shaman. There is so much to explore ad learn both from the business side as well as from the artform side. Part of my job involved identifying the diamonds in the rough, Artists with immense talent but without much exposure. We work with them so that the entire world can see their act.
Every year we also begin a new diversified venture. This year it has been our very own retail and distribution online store. The store is called Unusual Shop and as its name suggests it has only unusual items. We stock all international playing cards, professional and amateur props, videos, books; puzzles, etc.

 

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.

At 8:00 am our maid rings the door bell and I am forced to wake up.
8:30 am to 10:00 am – Responding to Emails of International Clients & Artists, Research, working on project briefs – creating presentations and reference material.
10:00 am to 5:00 pm – Meeting
5:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Brainstorming
8:00 pm to 10:00 pm – Shows & Demos
10:00 pm – 12:00 am – Responding to Emails Indian Clients & Artists, Research, working on project briefs – creating presentations and reference material.

 

Founder of Urban Shaman: Ian and Janvion
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
My business partner, Ian Fernandes is a professional Magician. He has been a professional Magician for almost 15 years of which he spent 5 years performing Internationally. He is one of the best (if not the best) Magicians in India. He takes care of all the Creative duties of the organisation.
Ian and I are neighbours in Bandra and have known each other for a while. As I mentioned earlier, he had spent 5 years working Internationally as a Magician. 3 years ago when he had come back to India for a holiday we met up and were discussing how Magic as an entertainment art-form in India was far behind the progress made i every other country in the world. There was a definite need for change and progress but unfortunately no one was leading the charge. And even the few that have tried in the past and even now have mainly had their ow self interest at heart. It’s then that we came up with the idea of Urban Shaman and have never looked back.

There are also many people around the world who have the same vision that we do and have taken an active part in our organisation and contributed to our growth. In Bangalore in particular we have  Waseem Mohammed and Abhishek Majithia who have helped us out tremendously.

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