As I write this opinion, I am listening to one of my favorite childhood song — Chahat by Ali Haider — on Patari music; yeah I am just about a millennial.
As the headline suggests pretty clearly, I wanted to put my thoughts out there and passionately build the case for this incredible opportunity missed by the Telco giants in Pakistan.
For me, the recent $200,000 seed round closed by Patari team from Sarmayacar is a watershed moment for the Telcos digital ambitions. Patari Music is a potential gold mine and could have acted as a flagship success story for the Telcos digital transformation in Pakistan.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Consumers love Pakistani music
Consumers from various market segments love Pakistani music in general, be it a bus driver listening to Ataullah Essa Khelvi’s track on the Indus Highway across Sindh, a Rickshaw driver in Lahore listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali’s ghazals or an Isloite shuffling his playlist.
Who doesn’t want to cash that! But it is not going to happen by thinking in old school ways of legacy value added service (VAS) products. In the past, Telecom companies effectively outsourced ideation, product innovation, and even development to a few VAS companies out there and enjoyed a mainly risk-free ride.
2. Digital age requires user-friendly products
Innovation is happening right in the user interface. There are a lot of startups out there winning over their competitors due to a better user experience. Technology and its accessibility have made innovation an equal playfield. Whoever wins the users, their trust, their loyalty and their time becomes the long term winner in this digital age.
Patari has done a tremendous job with its product in terms of engineering, design, and product features. They started with a web application and later have successfully launched their iOS and Android apps.
Telcos don’t have anything near to Patari’s product. Although, Telenor, Ufone etc. did introduce a few music products in the past but their user interface was plain boring and least exciting. It didn’t strike a cord and the database was close to zero.
3. Patari has become an urban cultural phenomenon
Without exaggeration, Patari is fast becoming an urban cultural phenomenon and almost everyone in my work and social circle has a Patari application on their iPhones & Samsungs. It is fast becoming a must-have-application like the international SoundCloud, which is a big achievement in itself.
How could Telenor & Jazz not see that coming?
4. Crazy startup team
I have been following their team’s work and social updates over the last year or so. They have a mix of ace talent like Khalid Bajwa, Humayun Haroon etc. as well as stalwarts like Faisal Sherjan, a mentor, and an angel investor.
Telco’s need this sort of agility & team combination, if they want to succeed in digital.
5. Streaming is the new king
Just look at Spotify, it has changed the music world upside down. Worth about $8.4 billion after its last funding round, it has literally pushed a beast like Apple to change its business model and come into streaming business as well.
6. The likes of Patari music doesn’t need Telco Acceleration
Sorry but the Telcos have got it wrong here.
With Telenor boasting its own Velocity Accelerator for startups as well as the recent Jazz Collaboration with National Incubation program, the Telcos I believe are putting their energy in the wrong places and taking up wrong battles.
The likes of Patari music don’t need these programs as such and should definitely be handled differently.
7. A potential gold mine
Pakistani music is popular, not just among the local consumer but across the borders. We know how Patari has become an urban cultural phenomenon, and we know about the Telcos digital ambitions too.The opportunities for further growth and monetization is huge.
People like myself would be gladly willing to go premium to show our love and support as well as for the add-on features like offline listening mode etc. Advertisers and brands are already signing up with Patari e.g the recent campaigns I have seen are an example of tapping into that potential.
It doesn’t require rocket science to see the massive potential out there for products like Patari and Telcos ought to have a strategy for that.
8. Telcos need to adopt dynamic & innovative business models in Digital
Without going too much into the fine details, it is clear that startups like Patari need to be taken into account when building Telcos digital strategy for Pakistan.
Whether it is building a local private equity (Venture Capital) arm to fund startups like Patari or to hedge their bets in the Pakistani digital space.
Here are my two cents, what are your thoughts?!