Sajanthan Velu is by day, a Senior Marketing Manager at General Assembly Pizza (the world’s first pizza subscription service) and also the co-founder of Wooden Panda, a 360 digital marketing agency founded in 2015 based out of Toronto, Canada. His current “big swing” project is Playmi.ca, a platform that promises to help making it easier to discover up-and-coming artists from the Tamil community that may have difficulty breaking through current streaming platforms just because there is so much “noise” there music-wise.
Tell us how the idea of Playmi.ca started. Why are you so passionate about this idea?
Playmi.ca was started because my business partner and I wanted to listen to local Tamil artists from Toronto, and we realized there was a gap in the market for platforms that made it easy to do so. The number of talented Tamil artists from Toronto is growing every day, but up until now, it was difficult to discover these amazing artists on digital streaming platforms unless they already had a big following. Music has no limits. Music allows artists to express their inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and our executive team at Playmi.ca is constantly working to mitigate the barriers to entry for independent artists. We want to help these artists break through the saturated market to make an impact and get the recognition they deserve.
Is this something you built yourself or do you have other co-founders?
The Playmi.ca branding, web design, and development were built internally by our team. Nitsinth and I co-founded the company and Sasi Naga & Rajeev Kugan were brought on as strategic partners. The four of us make up the core Playmi.ca leadership team. Everyone’s love for music, creativity, and passion for making a difference in our communities aligned like the stars. It only made sense to build our team with individuals that shared the same values and interests.
How do you go about recruiting other team members to join?
We follow a few strategic business principles that have paid dividends for us in past ventures. Primarily, we focus on growing our team of leaders and executives internally. But, whenever we need to branch out, we make it a point to use our capital and cash flow wisely. We bring in strategic partners who are the best in their disciplines, allowing us to keep our costs down without ever sacrificing the quality of our end products or services.
Is Playmi.ca something you focus on full-time? If not, what do you do to “pay the bills”?
I am an active partner at Playmi.ca. My day-to-day efforts consist of marketing, strategy, user experience, financial management, and executive producing just to name a few. You can see our most recently Executive produced tracks En Style’u Na by Ashvin Bala & Savelo Studioz and Biryani by All Mixed Up Music. Playmi.ca doesn’t pay the bills just yet, but our estimates predict we’ll break-even by Q4 2021. By day, I am a Senior Marketing Manager at General Assembly Pizza (the world’s first pizza subscription service). I am also the co-founder of Wooden Panda, a 360 digital marketing agency founded in 2015 based out of Toronto, Canada.
Do you have a technical background? If not, how did you build the product?
I have my BCOM in Marketing Management and Finance, but I’ve always been fascinated by web design, web development, and the process of bringing brands to market. With the support of my business partners and team, I’ve picked up a variety of technical skills in UI/UX development. But, generally speaking, I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with the best software engineers and web developers. I’ve found it makes everyone’s tasks a bit easier if I use my expertise to build out the requirements, and let the professionals execute the actual implementation.
How have you gone about getting more content creators (musicians, podcasters, etc.) on the platform?
My Co-Founder is a veteran in the music space, so he leads our artist outreach efforts. The power of relationships and great networks definitely makes it a bit easier to reach out and onboard artists, but we still need to cover a lot of ground. Beyond that, we make it a point to ensure the platform is as artist-friendly as possible, so we don’t have to spend too much time selling artists on the benefits of joining.
How long did it take for you to generate revenue? What is the revenue model?
Along with building out our mobile application, phase 2 of playmi.ca involves building a comprehensive analytics platform for advertisers, who will use relevant data and analytics to create advertising campaigns. The revenue model is comprised of revenue generated from these advertisers’ in-stream ads, sponsorships, and YouTube stream monetization for content produced by playmi.ca and its subsidiaries.
Are you a bootstrapped company? If so, are you looking to raise money? What would make you raise money?
We’re as bootstrapped as we can be. We want to be able to prove to our investors and future management team that we were able to build a brand, scale it, turn a profit, and keep expenses to a minimum, all with limited resources on hand. When we eventually go to the market to raise funds, we’ll have a finished product, with 1,000 subscribers, and 500 content creators (including artists, podcast creators, and producers). We have our F21 and F22 growth plans intact. We’ve attracted a lot of interest from VCs and potential partners over the past few months, but we’re really looking for the right people to help scale our business. Our growth strategy involves international penetration in identified markets. There is a huge rise of independent Tamil music listenership outside of Canada, and we want to capitalize on that. If you’re a VC and you’re reading this, I’d love to connect!