Have you ever experienced that feeling when after a vacation you cringe about going back to work, hoping you could have stayed back longer or maybe even worked there? Well, there is a startup which has not only achieved this but is also kicking ass at that by doing some uber cool work and setting milestones for various others.
What started as an ambitious idea of creating and marketing video based adventure sports content, is now a well-grounded startup based in the quaint hill town of Manali, Himachal Pradesh. ‘4Play’ is the brainchild of Anuj, Kshitij, and Sukrit, who initially started out with a modest set up in the dreary bylanes of New Delhi. However, it didn’t take them long to realize that starting up and surviving in a metropolis was way unaffordable compared to their meager investment. It was then that they decided to bid adieu to the dust and grime of New Delhi and move to the scenic locales of Manali, and and now they surely aren’t complaining.
As opposed to a single room setup in New Delhi, 4Play is now based out of a double-storeyed building, with ten independent studio style rooms, two balconies, parking space and a garden providing them the most generous views of the Himalayas. All this at a price which is almost one-sixth of what they would have had to pay in Delhi for a similar sized accommodation.
The startup today has a total strength of 13 members including a bunch of mountain dogs, who pretty much ensures the supply of enthusiasm and inspiration with their antics.
The 4Play team comprises of an eclectic mix of talent ranging from experienced professional adventure sports pioneers in India to writers, cinematographers to social media whiz. It’s people who not only enjoy to live it on the edge but also possess great contextual awareness about the sports and the industry.
The work culture at 4Play offers a unique work-life balance. The team embodies the very spirit of the organization, adventure and outdoors. Most of the team members train for at least 2 hours a day. It’s no wonder that all the team members are expected to pick up a sport and develop semi-professional expertise at it.
The double floored building has been divided into office and residence for the entire team with a well-furnished kitchen in place. This saves the team from all the hassle of spending long hours commuting and managing food.
What’s more is that the startup maintains a 4 day work week which is simply unheard of in any corporate. Not only are its people encouraged to work hard and efficiently, additionally they are aided in maintaining healthy lifestyles.
There were initial bottlenecks when it came to infrastructural support to get it going. Most important being Internet and transport. Installation of a private ISP providing a wireless connection proved to be marginally higher when compared to other cities. As regards transport, Manali has excellent road connectivity to cities like Chandigarh and Delhi. As their assignments require them to travel frequently, negotiating a bulk deal with Volvo service providers has further cut down the travel costs for them. The nearest airport is only at a distance of 40 kms.
Furthermore, the 4Play team has had the opportunity to work with some of the best mentors in the country and to lead enterprise in the region, upon its incubation at IIT Mandi under a program called the Catalyst. It proved to be a unique opportunity to streamline their product and business model, to reach potential investors and improve overall industry presence. They further also went on receiving moderate grants from them and opportunities to present themselves at various events including the Startup Jalsa.
As per the founding members, the decision of moving to Manali has proved to be a brilliant strategic move for them. Not only has it greatly helped them in saving on their operational costs but also the is place suitable for all kinds of mountain-based adventure sports. Not to forget the various government-run mountaineering institutes, a distinctive geographical layout and a host of outdoor service providers that the place has to offer. Additionally, the broad valley with a low floor and high peaks on either side offer a wide range of sports to be practiced ranging from rock climbing, mountaineering, snowboarding, trail running, kayaking, grass skiing, skiing, paragliding, luge, mountain biking to name a few.
To conclude, this startup has put to rest the common notion that one needs to be in a metro city to make it big or even to survive. Now almost two years old, 4Play has been doing some brilliant work. And the work culture that the organization has embodied surely appreciates the benefits of casual banter and camaraderie, which thoroughly reflects itself in effortless creative fun nature of their content.
They are setting an inspiration for all those who want to tread the road less traveled and to do it well.