Kabali, a rage among startups! After all, it’s not every day that we hear so many startups either booking the entire cinema halls for their employees or giving them a day off on the release date of the movie. FreshDesk, Oyethere.com, Fyndus, GoBumpr, TheSocialPeople and many other startups are big on the Kabali sentiment and are going out of the way to catch up on the frenzy. The massive euphoria exhibited by the startup community around the movie release has led to a new star-fan dynamic not heard or witnessed before.
The fascination with the movie Kabali and thus the superstar has established Rajinikanth’s status as a symbol among a burgeoning breed of entrepreneurs – a symbol of hope, undying spirit and inspiration. As famous as he is for his movie roles, with the upcoming release of his latest outing, startups are also now drawing from his larger than life persona, a tale of talent, ambition and drive to infuse fresh energy into the otherwise grim startup ecosystem.
If funding and scaling were the key talking points of early 2015, exits, acquisitions, layoffs, and shutdowns quickly replaced the above in 2016. According to ‘yourstory’, this year, the startup ecosystem has seen a 40% decline in funding as compared to last year.
In such a scenario, comes Kabali, a 65 year old invincible superstar bringing with him a positivity which in the recent past can only be compared to the massive hope that one felt with Barack Obama becoming the US President. A person, who started his career as a bus conductor, over the years, with the transformative nature of his star persona has today become a unique part of the startup ecosystem, more so in the southern state of Chennai.
Take for instance, the Chennai Geeks Hackathon where a group of youngsters developed a Rajini language software compiler followed by the recent ‘App for Chennai Challenge’ where the jurists were addressed as the Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan of Chennai startups. And then there is Girish Mathrubootham, founder Freshdesk. In his own words – “From nothing, FreshDesk grew and I was greatly motivated by Rajini sir in our entrepreneurial journey. Every day morning before leaving for office I used to listen to the song “Vetri Kodi Kattu” (hoist the flag of victory) from Rajini sir’s blockbuster Padaiyappa (The film is the typical rags to riches story and in the beginning of the song, Rajinikanth has lost everything but song ends with him becoming a millionaire). It made me work hard against all odds.”
Like Girish, there are many others in the startup community who with pride admit to continue drawing inspiration from Rajinikanth in their entrepreneurial pursuits. According to Viral Thaker, CEO, TheSocialPeople, a digital marketing startup, which has declared an off-day on July 22, “People are excited. This has brought a lot of positive energy.”
Meanwhile, the startups are also leveraging Rajinikanth starrer Kabali to push sales and engage with customers. GoBumpr, a vehicle service startup is running a social media campaign, ‘Kabali-fy your car or vehicle’, Others like FullyFilmy and CoverItUp are also witnessing surge in Kabali inspired merchandise.
Amidst all the hysteria, the startups have found their bright spot in the Rajinikanth starrer Kabali. An icon – simple yet powerful, an index – social, cultural, economic and a symbol – of hope, inspiration and good tidings. Magizhchi! Indeed.