Leadership & Quotes: Ashish Hemrajani

Ashish Hemrajani has made life simple for avid movie-goers. With the click of a bottom, you can book movie tickets and reach the theater on time to enjoy the silver screen. The founder and chief executive officer of Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, popularly known for BookMyShow.com, commands 90% of the online movie ticketing market in India.

He started his career in 1997 working with well-known advertising company JW Thompson. During his two-year stint with the advertising company, he worked with major brands across the nation. In 1999, Ashish quit his job to start his own business venture - Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. with the financial support of his close friends and the Co-Founders of the company, Parikshit Dar, and Rajesh Balpande.

The company was formed with a distinct vision of providing cutting-edge digital solutions to the entertainment industry. Bigtree Entertainment is the pioneer company to bring the concept of online ticketing to India. Spanning over a decade, the business sailed through rough winds - the dotcom bubble burst in 2001 and the recent financial crisis. During the tough times, the company managed to withstand the adverse situation by managing call centers and developing software and technologies for cinema theaters.

Hemrajani’s 16-year long journey as an entrepreneur has been a struggle worth it. He is a pioneer in bringing the concept of online-ticketing to India. Within a decade of its inception, Bigtree Entertainment's Bookmyshow.com, which has been invested by the Network 18 group, today holds a 90% market share in the online entertainment ticketing space. Apart from being a young entrepreneur, he is also a competitive sailor.

His entrepreneurial journey was also by coincidence. While on a backpacking trip in South Africa, he heard a radio jingle playing on a channel which was promoted rugby tickets. That’s when he got the business idea. He came back to India, quit his job and jumped the world of entrepreneurship just at the age of 24. The business plan was worked out in his bedroom.

A couple of months later, a friend of his joined him. And a few months later, another friend joined him to create the landmark business.

However, the struggle started then. At the time, the Internet wasn’t prevalent. So, he sent a one-page fax to the investor. They liked the idea and promised to fund. Unlike today, where most of the start-up boys are aware of valuations and funding, Hemrajani and his friends never knew much about valuations and fundraising.

Ashish implements philosophy of Vedanta

His company Bookmyshow has joined the Rs 1,000 crore valuation club, but Ashish Hemrajani insists he was in no hurry to join the elite circle. Rather, he simply occupied himself with the interests of his end-user. The rest is a bit of serendipity and a lot of what the philosophy of Vedanta has taught him.

Having survived two dot com bursts and a personal tragedy, Hemrajani was drawn to his friend's father, Adi Kalyaniwala (ex-CEO, HMG), who seemed to take the knocks of a life well. "There was this man, a CEO and a husband, who despite losing his wife was going through life in a certain way that inspired me," Hemrajani says of Kalianiwala, adding, "They (Kalianiwala and his son and daughter-in-law) were living their lives so simply, and handling grief with such resilience that I knew there was more to it than meets the eye." What was more appealing was the fact that Kalyaniwalla, despite being a teacher of Vedanta, was a "regular guy who lived the corporate life, worked out at the gym, was a member of Bombay Gymkhana and played snooker”.

I never let emotions override my intellect. The intent is important, not the action. And it is the intent that drives me." Hemrajani says he has been concentrating on keeping his customers happy and everything else has been a by-product of his intent.

"I never let emotions override my intellect. The intent is important, not the action. And it is the intent that drives me." Hemrajani says he has been concentrating on keeping his customers happy and everything else has been a by-product of his intent. "Vedanta teaches you to focus on the quality of your input. Once you uplift yourself, everything around you changes for the better," he explains.

His advice to entrepreneurs

“Stop behaving like investors who are thinking about investments and exits. Your obligation as an entrepreneur is to build a great product that will continue to make end users happy and satisfied. That is your only obligation, rest will follow. I see many entrepreneurs are now worried about valuations and exits, if you take care of customers, all of that will happen.” Hemrajani has set an example for all young entrepreneurs to work hard and make it big in the start-up world.

Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations


Founder - Chief Executive Officer Bigtree Entertainment Board Member Bigtree Entertainment MBA From Mumbai University
Founder - Chief Executive Officer Bookmyshow.com
Account Management: J. Walter Thompson Company
Client Management: J. Walter Thompson Company

Author's Bio: 

M&A Critique is the only magazine, published from India which gives News, Deals and Analysis of Merger & Acquisitions, Restructuring, Takeovers and Joint Ventures.