"Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure."
If you’ve been clubbing in Mumbai (and now London), you’re sure to have heard of “MVM”. From a collaboration that was expected to last one New Year event, to having a renowned partnership in Mumbai, the trio has come a long way. MVM, that stands for the initials of each partner - Mohit, Vedant and Manak - started off with hosting nightlife-based events and, after great success in this field, expanded to working private events such as birthdays and anniversaries. Mohit Raval, representing his best buds (and now partners), will be talking about the accidental founding of the company that has now attained notable accreditation in the event-hosting space.
Tell us a little about your entry into this market, and more specifically your partnership and how it made its way into existence?
My first door into this industry opened when I was offered to work with another event company as a promoter. I started off by promoting events at clubs, and soon the 3 of us were given the opportunity to host an event where we could take home the entire commission on their sales. And yes, we sure did return home with heavy pockets. After our successful night, we were called in for another event, but this time we chose to brand ourselves directly. We quickly put together a name and logo (as you can tell), and had our first ever event under our “MVM” label.
Excitement was in our favour, but our beginner’s luck was not. We were slapped with minimal turnout and soon found ourselves reconsidering this entire idea. All credit to today’s extant MVM goes to Manak’s dialogue, and I quote, “Even Dhoni has gotten out on a duck in his first ball!”
Our partnership dates back to the year 2014 where we first became associated with each others’ professional sides. What started out as a single new year eve celebration on our friend’s terrace, turned out to become a series of parties hosted for 5+ years (and still continuing). We would charge our guests a fee in return for their new year eve prerequisites - alcohol, bartenders, police permission, music and a location.
In all honesty, we did not expect more than a 100 people to show up, however on the next day, we surprised our sober selves, with a whopping number of over 250 guests. This number seemed to compete and outdo itself as each year passed by. Not only did we earn some extra cash for our efforts, but also positive feedback and the confidence of our guests in our ability to manage events at such a large scale. After a couple of years of being famed as the “hosts” of NYE events, the three of us decided to expand our horizons into the nightlife space, which we understood required a similar skillset.
What were the initial responses you received when you discussed this idea with your near and dear ones?
Back then, my family made no effort in hiding their disapproval of this initiative, and for good reason. My father was very skeptical of this idea, and saw it as nothing more than an opportunity to make some extra cash (as did I, initially). Like most other startups, we started out with limited experience but till date, I commend how heavily we invested in our client base, that has never proven to be anything less than advantageous for us. Today, if you were to ask my dad his views on this business, he will admit that we conquered his initial doubts and proved successful in our efforts. He now takes MVM as seriously (if not more) as the three of us do.
What audience did you first choose to target? How did you work towards expanding your presence amongst other age groups and social circles?
We started out targeting the easiest (and most obvious) social circles - our friends and their friends. Our attempts at targeting 18 - 21 year olds stemmed from our combined business instincts, alluding to the fact that nearing one’s legal age is almost more exciting than crossing it. Even though we don’t have a rigid target audience in terms of their age, we have noticed that these individuals - that lie on the older half of the teenage spectrum and beyond - form a large part of our client base. We have also noticed ripple effects created by teens bringing their friends, different social circles, and sometimes even their parents!
How do you work towards standing out in such an overcrowded market?
The (not-so-secret) ingredients behind our expansion are our social media outlets and the nature of our events, that we use to our advantage in distinguishing ourselves. We carry out extensive (and constant) market research on the current trends sweeping across our target audiences and aim to keep up with them by using a range of strategies. These include inviting popular influencers in that age bracket, ideating themed nights (for example, hip hop night, rap night, Bollywood night, amongst others), creating posts using pop figures of the month (such as Travis Scott, Kanye, the actor featured in the latest Bollywood film release), or even varying our venues (based on those that are open till late, currently popular amongst the crowds, or one that would be difficult for people to get in without our events).
What qualities do each one of you bring to the table, and how have these roles changed over the course of your partnership?
As is the case of most newly founded businesses, we started out with being very fluid in the distribution of responsibilities. However as time went on, we found our interests and ended up owning separate compartments of the business.
I’ve come to notice that our roles are strongly personality based, and we each possess unique strengths that we play to our advantage. My strength lies in the accounting and legal part of the business, whereas Vedant exhibits his creativity by managing marketing and promotions. Manak, in a more front-facing role, is in direct contact with the venues and owners of clubs to block dates for our events. We complement each other in all aspects of the business. However, our expertise in our particular responsibilities does not stop us from checking in for the opinions of the remaining two. For example, if we are uploading a post on our Instagram handle or looking to book dates for an event, we make sure to gain everyone’s approval before finalising any confirmations.
In rare cases of conflict, we adhere to our unvarying 2:1 majority rule which, as the title suggests, requires the third one to compromise on his opinion. This is, ofcourse, after we have fairly considered all three opinions.
In an industry that is so volatile and constantly has new entrants, how do you work towards maintaining your lead and keeping your clients engaged?
The biggest advantage of this market - the fact there’s no barrier to entry - is also its biggest disadvantage. We pride ourselves on our relationships with our clients, and maintain our edge by keeping them close. If you were to ask any of our loyal clients, they can confirm how we have helped ease their entry struggles, gotten them the exact table of their choice, sent them a champagne shower on their birthdays, and ofcourse kept in constant contact with them and their celebratory needs. Apologies as I’ll take this opportunity to brag about our absolute honesty and transparency. Let’s take a case where we are hosting an event that we know is not going to be lit (or successful). We very openly tell our guests this, and give them suggestions to go to other events (whether it be our competitors or not). Now you see, we get two benefits from this. We are not only earning their trust but simultaneously cutting our losses. How? If we have guests coming to our dead event, he will not be spending money or enjoying expensive alcohol anyway. So both ways, it’s a win-win for us!
What are some rules you stand by that have proven beneficial to your success?
Our “mission” - in corporate terms - is to ensure that our clients have a sick time whenever they are out partying. That’s all. Our very limited window in the clients’ week - mainly weekends - gives us few chances to stand out in an overcrowded market. There are three things that have proven to be advantageous for us throughout our tenure in this industry:
Always putting the company goals ahead of personal goals
Standing out and gauging the audience by being relevant, but unique:For example, during this lockdown we noticed a lot of our competitors tying up with DJ’s for live sessions. Wearing our client’s shoes made us realise that this idea would do little to replicate the clubbing experience that clients were missing. Instead, we started organising pop quizzes on our Instagram page, that stirred interest within our clientele, and was certainly backed by numbers on Instagram insights.
Constantly working towards strengthening relationships with our clients: In regular circumstances, this was relatively easier to do since you are in constant communication with your clients. However, due to the current pandemic, this was proving to be significantly harder. So, we planned a “Never Have I Ever” video that gave our clients the opportunity to get to know us better, beyond our usual weekend party selves.
What is your advice to someone starting out a new business in your industry?
“Don’t do it and spare me more competition!!!” No but for real, I would say that even though this industry allows easy entrants, it requires constant dedication and work to remain buoyant. Don’t let your not-so-successful events lower your spirits, instead use that time to mingle with existing clients and make new ones. Your indispensable assets are your connections, so keep connecting and keep growing. I’ve met people whose company is hosting an event on one end of the city, while they themselves are raging at another. In other words, you are inviting your own downfall. Sure, this might work the first few times, but your strong-iron connections, that took months to develop, will start to rust. Not being present at your own events takes away from you the chance to learn what is working in your favour, and what can be improved on.
What are some of MVM’s achievements that make you proud, and what are next steps for this partnership?
Last year was a terrific year for us as we got to establish our brand in London! We have been fortunate to work and successfully curate events at the biggest nightclub brands in the world such as Cirque Le Soir, Tape London, London Reign, amongst others. We have footprints in two major metropolises as of now and plan on continuing to expand all over the world, in the coming years. We also received numerous invitations from owners to invest in their respective nightclubs, and chose to create a base with Tryst.
Our decision to go with Tryst stemmed from our sheer appreciation of their goodwill - managers are respectful and friendly, payments are timely, and reputation has been stellar over the years (and has been maintained, if not improved). As of next steps, we were clouded by a lot of uncertainty due to the ongoing lockdown. However, we used this time coming up with ideas on ways to use our clientele to our advantage, and recently launched “Blend with Benefits!”
What is Blend with Benefits, and what was the idea behind it?
We worked towards capturing opportunities in other scopes of business beyond event-management, and largely focused our efforts towards the F&B industry. Blend with Benefits is a go-to cocktail premix brand offering a selection of unique concoctions of refreshing fruits and herbs. To prepare a complete serving, one has to add a spirit of their choice to our mix and it’s good to go! This concept stemmed from our desire to provide people with the chance to enjoy their weekends and have a bartender at their fingertips, despite the rigidities of the current lockdown.
Check out one of their many success stories in Mid-day: one of the most widely read newspapers in the city!
Want to spice up your weekends? Want to order one of their yummy cocktails pre-mixes? Looking to enter the event-management space?
Reach out to M, V or M!