GoNuts is a start-up that began in the lockdown. The platform aims to connect and provides a trusted pipeline between celebrities and their fans via authentic and personalized experiences. It allows fans from across the world to book personalised greetings and shout-outs from celebrities, through their website and app. The personally curated video makes every celebration even more special while giving the recipient fond memories for a lifetime.
Founded by serial entrepreneur Vinamra Pandiya, Media & Entertainment veteran Joji George and Mayank Gupta.
GoNuts aims to bridge the gap between celebrities and their millions of fans, and democratise talent to the Indian and expatriate Indian diaspora with a long term vision of creating India’s largest celebrity experience commerce platform.
Joji George, Co-Founder, GoNuts spoke exclusively with Medianews4u on the entire concept of GoNuts.
Tell us about GoNuts. The mission and vision of the company?
The mission of GoNuts is to become Asia’s largest and most influential platform for connection, communication and commerce using celebrities. It is a one-of-a-kind service that empowers consumers with the ability to use their favourite celebrity to send a message to someone they love to make everlasting memories for special occasions in their lives. The mission of GoNuts though simple, is very poignant and deep. Our aim is to make the lives of our customers richer by bringing smiles, tears of joy, laughter and sharing into their lives.
What makes GoNuts unique and special? How did the name come about?
As Fandom is soaring in India, GoNuts aims to bridge the gap between celebrities and their millions of fans. Fans across the world get the opportunity to connect to celebrities they love/admire through customised messages and build emotional connections through this platform.
The uniqueness of the platform is its ability to connect the Indian and global Indian diaspora to talent or celebrities across genres that are multi- lingual and also at multi segmented price points. We truly curate our talent that are both aspirational and inspirational. This has made GoNuts not only the most influential platform in its category but also premium in its positioning. We have the best of the best talent from Music, Food/Lifestyle, TV, Movies, Comedy, Fitness, Sports etc. What is unique is the Wow! experience that we give our customers, in terms of turnaround of videos in record time, in many cases less than half-hour and the video content, which is unique and differentiated against competition which co-curated with the artist.
GoNuts is perhaps the only start-up also focused on creating a trusted pipeline to small and medium enterprises to use the platform to speak to its stakeholders, using celebrities. Also, from a human resource perspective, we aim to revolutionise how companies communicate to its employees and other key stakeholders by making it exciting and memorable using celebrities.
When naming our service, the last thing we wanted to do is use clichés like celeb, byte, wish etc. but focus on what we would do to make the lives of our customers richer. Hence we literally translated the experience – GoNuts with joy/ laughter/ sharing/ togetherness …. And shortened it to GoNuts.
What made you create a platform such as GoNuts?
The two other co-founders Mayank Gupta and Vinamra Pandiya attended a friend’s kid’s birthday party and a discussion centred on what will happen if popular cartoon character wished the child personally. Parents were really excited about this idea. This germ led us to a journey that took shape and form when they met me. Once all of us met, sparks flew, and the company was born in Jan 2020. As they say, a lot can happen around coffee!
Which are the artists/celebrities listed on the platform and how does it work? – With a fan and the celebrity?
GoNuts has a portfolio of over 500 celebrities across categories like films, television, sports and music, amongst others, available on its platform. This gives users a diverse range of celebrities to choose from to convey personalized messages to their loved ones. The platform has leading celebrities including music sensation Shaan, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan, Lesley Lewis, Kailash Kher, Talat Aziz, Shibani Kashyap, RanveerBrar, Nawaz Singhania, Daboo Ratnani, Sivamani, Cyrus Broacha, ShivinNarang, Jonty Rhodes, Lance Klusener, Vicky Ratnani and many more super stars across genres and geographies, including the world’s topmost President Trump impersonator on the GoNuts platform.
The process to get a shoutout has been finessed for a fabulous user experience. Fans across the world can visit our website, browse their favorite celebrity and book a request by providing some basic details of the person for whom the video is to be created. We provide script improvements that get their message in the way they intended to convey and also brief our talent to deliver beyond the expectations of the person buying the video for gifting. The videos are delivered in an average time of 1-2 days. However, now we are used to delivering in record time and fulfilling last minute requests. In jest, we have helped save many marriages thanks to our superstars on GoNuts.
Tell us about the channel partners?
Our aim is not only to build communities but importantly, be present where communities exist. In that regard, we have established partnerships with Creds to cater to the HNI community, BulBulTV, to cater to Tier 2 and 3 cities, BookmyShow and also building channel partnerships across geographies to cater to the growing demand of expatriate Indians.
How does GoNuts plan to enhance/improve talent management in times of Covid-19 where a major part of the entertainment industry is practically out of work?
As someone said, “What seemed like disruption is now the norm”. Our aim was to create an alternative revenue model for talent. Initially, we met with resistance and lack of acceptance of the idea. However, now we have celebrities across genres speaking with us excitedly about being a part of GoNuts. We truly have created a respectable alternate line of income, and we believe this will only grow to significant numbers over time. We have shown healthy revenue growth even in the time of Covid and many artists have made significant income from GoNuts. As far as the company is concerned, we are in an aggressive growth phase and will be hiring extensively to meet our ambitious plans.
What has been the impact of Covid on your business?
We are a classic case of a company that seized opportunity in times of adversity. Since we started business right in the middle of the COVID crisis, we have grown 3X MoM in the last three months (Mar-May 2020), which will only increase exponentially as we see higher traffic and engagement. In the midst of job cuts and freezes, we are hiring and expanding rapidly.
How are you marketing GoNuts – across B2B and B2C markets?
Our ethos is using money wisely and strategically. We do not believe in spray and pray. Hence our marketing thus far has been targeted, result oriented and content driven on social media. We have also used brand alliances using the talent on our platform to maximise our branding efforts and brand salience.
What are the challenges in the current entertainment scenario and how does GoNuts plan to overcome them?
The Biggest challenge in the current entertainment scenario is the scramble for revenue growth and the resulting celeb commoditization. While we have maintained our premium positioning and our stars have a strong understanding of being in the right premium brand environment, the rise of many competitor sites, and their lack of understanding of this industry, coupled with some artists who are not really conscious of their own personal brand value, has suddenly created a pricing war, deep discounting, making it a buyers’ market. This will have an adverse effect not only on the brand value of celebrities that have discounted themselves to INR500 and INR 800 but over time dampen the allure of Fandom. We have not succumbed to that, which is why consumers know that when they want quality and the best talent in India, they must go to GoNuts.
We are extremely focused on creating a solid top line and bottom-line for the company and as far as results achieved in the last quarter, we are confident that our strategy will pay off for our stakeholders.
What are the plans when the lockdown is lifted completely? How do you plan to drive the business – towards newer business models and revenue avenues?
In a market that throws numerous opportunities that are distracting, we plan to stay focused to our vision and mission to deliver memorable experiences for our customers and value for our stakeholders. We have ambitious plans to grow and build a solid pathway to celebrity commerce. However, we believe this is not a sprint and we would like to be the ones to paint this whitespace with strong brush strokes and vivid colors.
Is there anything else that you would want to add?
We believe that the TAM is large, open to new ideas and we are onto something incredibly special. We are not about a shout out platform. Our purpose is to deliver joy and make the lives of our customers richer. This purpose makes us leap out of bed every morning.