TrailerWalla: Evaluating an Opportunity

In the summer of 2015, several innovative business ideas were given a platform in a business plan competition organized by a prominent business school in India, the Indian Institute of Management Kashipur. As was the norm, once the presentations were finished, students gathered around the judges and venture capitalists over tea, trying to build informal contacts and seek more in-depth feedback on their ideas. Amidst this buzz, Ramesh Reddy stood in a corner pondering why his idea had not even reached the semifinal stage in the competition. Was he chasing an opportunity that did not exist? Or did he fail to appropriately communicate his idea’s value? He was convinced that the former was not the case. It was time to return to the drawing board and look at the proposed business model. He was determined to convince investors of the viability of his idea.

TrailerWalla: The Origins

Ramesh had always been a cinema aficionado. A catchy trailer, notes from a soundtrack song from an upcoming movie, or an eye-catching cinema poster were enough to get Ramesh enthused about knowing more about a movie. Like many others in his community, Ramesh eagerly anticipated new movies—both Bollywood and regional films—and his employer even allowed him and his coworkers to miss work on the opening day of a major film. He was one of thousands of movie fans in India, many of whom loved the cinema so much that they would watch regional movies—those in regional dialects such as Tamil that appealed mostly to speakers of that language—even if they did not speak the language of the film. Although Ramesh spoke Hindi, he liked all non-Hindi movies, but primarily Tamil-, Telugu-, Kannada-, and Malayalam-language movies.

On his way to work one day in January 2013, Ramesh happened to see a movie poster (see Figure 1) that intrigued him greatly.

Unfortunately, he was unable to read the movie name because it was written in a language unknown to him. For many days, Ramesh tried to find the movie on Google and YouTube but was unsuccessful. To search for the movie, Ramesh had to have a film name, but he only had an image in his head! He tried to describe the poster to his friends but was unable to elicit an adequate response. The movie poster refused to leave his mind and he was determined to find out the name. After days of random guesses and what felt like endless searching, Ramesh finally found a name to put to the poster: “Vishwaroopam.” The Tamil movie featured Bollywood superstar Kamal Haasan and appealed to multiple audiences, including those who spoke Hindi. This experience planted an idea in Ramesh’s mind. In a country like India, where thousands of regional movies in different languages were released every year, it was almost impossible to keep track of every movie that was set to hit the big screen. To a large extent, movie trailers worked to pique potential audience interest. These commercialized previews could make or break the potential audience’s impression of an upcoming movie. Despite the power of movie trailers, there was no single platform where users could easily search for their desired trailers. Ramesh had searched for such a website, but it did not exist. This was the gap that Ramesh aspired to fill. He wanted to build and promote a website dedicated to showcasing the movie trailers in India in their various languages. There was a huge opportunity to capture, with regional movies being released in over 22 official languages in India. Ramesh’s business idea, therefore, was born out of his passion to promote good cinema and connect it with potential audiences. When coining the name for his website, Ramesh wanted it to be intrinsically associated with the popularity of Bollywood. He hit upon the name “TrailerWalla”—the word walla was a commonly used suffix in Hindi, meaning the provider. TrailerWalla was going to be a one-stop shop for Indian audiences searching for regional movie trailers in different languages. Designing and Testing the Website Ramesh began designing shortly after his mystery movie experience. With the help of his friends, who were software engineers, Ramesh designed the interface of the website. The site offered updated listings of the movies to be released each week and provided links to the trailers on YouTube. Ramesh was able to use trailers in this way without copyright or royalty payments because TrailerWalla did not house the movie trailers on its site; it simply directed visitors to YouTube to see the trailers of their choice. Although the trailers were linked in their original languages, basic details about the movies were offered in English and many of the films offered English subtitles. On TrailerWalla users could search for movie trailers by release date, language, actor, topic, and genre, while the home page featured all the trailers for the most recent release date. In order to test the technical infrastructure, the website went live from June to November 2013. During that time, Ramesh manually pasted YouTube links to all the new movie trailers onto the website. To gather feedback and suggestions, Ramesh showed the website to his friends and several potential users during those first six months. Other Indian websites emerged that ran movie trailers, including and However, these sites featured very limited trailers from Bollywood and virtually ignored the soaring regional movie industry. Building on the Business Idea Ramesh reviewed his plan in his mind. He had full faith that his website would be successful because he had evaluated the Indian movie industry and believed that his idea served a target market and met the requirements of the industry and potential website users. He had conducted primarily secondary research via website searches and consultation with business experts, but he had also conducted some primary market research in consultation with peers and professors and other film fans using his initial site and Facebook page. The site was positioned to support the film industry (e.g., did not violate copyright laws, offered links to marketing pieces that the film industry wanted publicized, potentially increasing audiences and revenues) and to support film audiences (e.g., compiled trailers in a way that helped audiences navigate hundreds of movie releases, supported regional movie audiences by publicizing regional movies). Next Steps: Resources and Revenues Yet some questions remained unanswered surrounding TrailerWalla’s offerings, resources, and potential revenues. How would Ramesh reach out to a larger audience without adequate financial funding? Would it be a good idea to seek funding at this point, or would it be better to demonstrate the commercial success of TrailerWalla to some extent before seeking funding? How would the website generate revenue after its launch? How would TrailerWalla fund expanded offerings? Would TrailerWalla solicit advertisements or would movie theaters or production companies pay to place their trailers on the site? Would Ramesh sell the site’s analytics to film companies to inform their investments and new movie making or marketing? Would the site allow users to watch a movie trailer and then link to the movie theaters showing the movie and allow users to buy tickets? Would the site link to local businesses in the area of cinemas and allow visitors to plan experiences around their movie going? How would TrailerWalla establish a sustained competitive advantage? Would TrailerWalla focus on a single regional market or target all Indian audiences? Would dubbing or translation services be added to the site to appeal to certain audiences? Would the site rely on linked material or incorporate original and source content? Would the service be exclusive to website users or would it also be offered as a mobile application with links to other businesses and services? First Steps Ramesh was confident that his design and vision for the site would attract production houses and distributors to showcase their trailers on the site in the future. Furthermore, with an increasing number of regional movies being dubbed in Hindi and shown by mainstream movie channels, the trend and the demand for Hindi films was on the rise, thereby offering significant growth potential for TrailerWalla. How could this business idea born out of a personal need be successfully commercialized? TrailerWalla needed to find the right first steps for launching its business.

Discussion Questions

1. Is the opportunity presented in this case worth undertaking? When and why should a personal interest be treated as an opportunity?

2. What are some of the initial challenges Ramesh might face in launching his idea into a business? How can Ramesh overcome those challenges?

3. Conduct an environmental and internal resource analysis for TrailerWalla. Use the analyses to suggest if the case opportunity is worth pursuing.

4. What key information would Ramesh need to make a TrailerWalla business plan fundable?