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The retail shopping venture is run by another firm, Marble E-retail Pvt Ltd, under licence from Koovs India, to confirm to the ban on foreign investment in online retail trading business. Presently, Koovs plc owns 57.5 per cent of Koovs India and it intends to up its holding to around 90 per cent.
Separately, Koovs plc is in talks with existing and other investors to raise ?35 million (around $53 million, or close to Rs 350 crore) for stepping up its marketing spends to better compete with peers.
It could not be ascertained whether bulk of this money it is looking to raise would be utilised for subscribing to fresh shares of Koovs India. An email query to Koovs’ spokesperson seeking clarity did not also elicit any response immediately.
Koovs, which runs on an inventory-based e-commerce model, competes with the likes of Flipkart-owned Myntra and Rocket Internet’s Jabong besides several other horizontal and vertical e-commerce players in the booming market for online retailing of fashion apparel and accessories.
The company incurred a huge loss last year and needs to raise capital to sustain its business as it may exhaust its cash by the quarter ending June 30, 2016.
It had recently got a commitment of around ?1.1 million from top management executives and key shareholder British businessman-turned- politician Waheed Alli. Koovs India was established in May 2010 by Rajesh Kamra, Manish Tewari, Kanishk Shukla and Amit Shukla as a general e-commerce business. Koovs plc raised ?22 million ($37 million then) by floating on London’s AIM stock market last year. Institutional investors Henderson Global Investors and JO Hambro Capital Management are other key shareholders. Koovs plc’s share price has slid since it listed in March 2014 with a market cap of ?44 million ($74 million). Viacom18, a joint venture between Mukesh Ambani owned Network18 Media & Investments Ltd and Viacom Inc, has finally launched its digital video platform, Voot.
The last broadcaster to enter the over-the-top (OTT) online video market, Voot has 70 per cent catch-up content, essentially content the television network produces annually, across genres for its Hindi, English as well as regional channels, with the remainder split between original and exclusives. Citing the example of its reality show Bigg Boss, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO, Viacom18 said, “The Bigg Boss house has 70 cameras installed, which in total churn out 840 hours of content every day.

Unlike other broadcasters who added original content a few months after the launch of their respective OTT platforms, Voot claims to have original content from day one. Media analysts say that despite being late in the game, Viacom18 seems to have the same content strategy as the rest of the players. Vats, however, is unperturbed and says that the network will continue to concentrate on building content around comedy, reality, drama and kids – the genres where it already has a strong presence on TV. Since the app is free-to-watch, Viacom18 will be following an advertising driven business model. However, Vats says the company will introduce a paywall for its premium content after a year or two.
Agrees, Rajiv Dingra, founder and chief executive, digital agency, WATConsult, a wholly owned property of WATMedia Pvt Ltd, who says, “The industry is going through a phase where viewers are getting a taste of various kinds of content and formats online. The OTT story does not end with the launch of Voot, as the market is gearing up for two more launches. This reminds me of early dotcom era when most of newspaper companies decided to digitise and thought of making quick bucks thru internet route (non video).
Key deciding factor between who wins would be the content, perhaps original content to be more precise and the monetisation model. Earlier this month, Thinkcell acquired the YUKTI brand to focus on the 12th board exams and engineering and medical entrance exams like JEE, MHT-CET and AIPMT. Last year in August, private equity firm ASK Pravi Capital Advisors had acquired a majority stake in Thinkcell.
With an increasing number of online learning startups, the market has started to see signs of consolidation. In April, online test prep platform Toppr had acquired EasyPrep, an online entrance exam preparation platform. Koovs India, whose financials pretty much mirror that of the London-listed parent, clocked revenues of Rs 20.4 crore with a net loss of Rs 92 crore for the year ended March 31, 2015. In August 2011, Infotel E-Commerce Pvt Ltd, a company controlled by the Nahata family, acquired a controlling interest in Koovs India, initially focusing on the sale of mobile phones and other electronic goods. It was founded by Waheed Alli and retail industry executive Robert Bready, who has previously worked at ASOS and Arcadia.

AIM is a sub-market of the London Stock Exchange, which allows smaller companies to float shares with a more flexible regulatory system than is applicable to the main market. Exicom Tele-Systems (Singapore) Pte Ltd, a company connected with Nahatas, now holds 15 per cent and Bready holds 3.5 per cent. Called Voot Originals, these are web-series, films and shows with fewer episodes, of 15-30 minutes duration.
When it comes to content, all platforms, whether broadcasters owned or third party, are trying to create a mark by creating original content, which is a small portion of the pie.
According to industry estimates, broadcasters charge Rs 50-100 CPM (cost per impression) and Rs 3-6 per CPV (cost per view) on these platforms.
Arre, owned by former Network18 executives B Saikumar and Ajay Chacko, and Balaji Telefims’ ALT are joining the queue soon. Pure ad funded monetisation may not work as it’s a bigger cost to manage video streams. It also enables us to diversify our domain to include MBA entrance, bank entrance and UPSC,” Mohit Goel, CEO and MD, Thinkcell, said. Same month, Singapore-based XSEED Education Pte acquired online learning management business of Pleolabs.
Hence, it will be unable to ride on popular sports tourneys to drive usage or engagement, unlike Hotstar which was launched on the back of ICC World Cup.
Five original shows have debuted with the launch, Vats said, adding that the aim is to “have one original content every month”.
In April 2013, Alli and Bready joined Koovs plc as chairman and creative and retail director, respectively.
But they will not be able to carry on like this for a long time,” says Timmy Kandhari, managing director, Sapphire Professional Services, a financial advisory services firm.

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