Making boring bus rides full of fun

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Imagine yourself riding a long journey bus and having nothing to do. The idea came into the mind of Anand Sinha while travelling by luxury bus from Delhi to Amritsar. It was a 9 hours journey and he was left with nothing to do during this time. Mr. Anand and his friend George Abrahan were working in Zomato at that time. They decided to make such a boring journey with full of fun.  They quit the job of Zomato and started Pressplay in April 2014, a travelling entertainment startup. They started providing tablets preloaded with movies, TV shows, music, games, documentary films and kids entertainment in different regional languages with a nominal charge of Rs. 100/- per person.

Initially the concept was started with 10 tablets on test basis.  and now the journey is on. Fortunately, they came into the contact of an angel investor Mr. Amit Bhatiani, who loved this idea and decided to invest on this project.  This has boosted the idea and they imported 1000 tablets from Chaina with special design. Maintenance was done free of cost at company’s office. People like this concept and they were enjoying the journey. Initially PressPlay launched its services on the Delhi-Agra route followed by Delhi-Manali on a larger scale. The business took off with good feedback from passengers and bus operators. Then they grew to 14 cities in next six months and entertained more than a lakh passenger with those one thousand tablets.

Since the programs are preloaded, no internet connectivity was required and the problems like buffering / streaming were eliminated. This concept was becoming popular because battery is drain out very fast in smart phones and 3G connectivity is also a big problem in India.

However Sinha and Abraham had a problem. Although the tablets were serving well and people were happy paying Rs. 100 for it, but the business was not scalable. It was becoming difficult to manage large number of tablets in further expansion. This was because at the beginning of journey, a person from company was required to give the demo, and then attach the tablet to the seat of individual who would want to avail the service. After reaching the destination, another person was required to detach the tablets, charge it and make it available for further circulation.

In January 2015, Mr. Sinha received a seed money of $ 2.2 million from Sequoia Capital. That has boosted the new technical ideas and solves the problem. The idea now was to push the content into the passenger’s Smartphone and putting away tablets. This time they deployed a small box in the bus and that turned the bus into a WiFi zone. A person in any of these buses now has to connect to the PressPlay WiFi from his Smartphone and download the PressPlay application locally.  After installation and paying Rs. 10, the passenger is entitled to access the content like music, movies and so on. First half an hour is free for the passenger to get the services look and feel. After satisfaction, if a passenger wants to avail the services, he is required to send an SMS to a particular number. In this process, Rs. 10 is deducted from the balance for a pre-paid customer. For postpaid customer Rs. 10 gets added to his bill.

This was very simple and scalable. They launched this service in March 2015 and so far large number of users has used the services. Now with cloud based technology, they can find out as how many people are logged in, how many are watching a certain movie. Now the company can update its application remotely also.