F.O.U.R Play. This is how this startup outlines in an acronym, FOUR, where F stands for find about adventure and extreme sport stories, O stands for own the latest in gears and equipment through the best deals from their gear shop, U stands for unwind with one-of-a-kind truly adventurous getaways, and R stands for reviews that keep you informed and updated about the sport and pursuits in the outdoors.
4Play is the Eastern Hemisphere’s first adventure sports channel catering to extreme and action sports (adventure sports). They produce video based content in the domain encompassing both fiction and non-fiction.
4Play as much as the term sounds engrossing, the guys behind this project aren’t less too either. The guys have their unique lifestyle, and the way they project their videos tells everything about them, and the way they execute it tells everything about 4Play. There is a connection between the two mentions i.e. 4Play and the team, which is, in fact, utmost crucial for a startup plan too. Adding to this, their life has become full of thrills and transcending the core of life while living on the edge. Wait, there’s a lot more to it, this was just a gist and we’re just started.
You guys are putting up in Manali. You guys are working in your startup from Manali. The startup is at the early stage and 4play sounds an enthralling term just like Manali. Please note, I’ve used Manali repeatedly. What made you shift to Manali? Does Manali absorb you and your thrills? How’s been the journey till now?
There are two aspects for shifting our base to Manali:
1. The pure business aspect of it is quite strategic. Manali is one of the few (or I guess the only) locations in the Eastern Hemisphere where most mountain based extreme sports are easily practicable. From alpine mountaineering objectives in terms of peaks of over 6000m at a stone’s throw away, to sheer rock walls and bouldering areas conducive to rock climbing, to alpine meadows for snowboarding and skiing, to designated landing sights for paragliders, and a river full of rapids to kayakers among other sports makes Manali ‘the destination’ for our purpose. So instead of going on a lookout for stories; stories walk up to us. Which is a huge cost saving as well as we always stay ahead in terms of news from the domain.
2. The personal aspect of Manali is that all of us in the 4Play team are outdoor people, into adventure sports ourselves. Manali provides us the space to practice our art. Every day we are able to live what we want to showcase to the world, and that really keeps our motivation quite high.
4Play is now a team of 10 people. Who manages what, and how all you manage things to get going? What’s the vision behind the 4Play? How did this term ‘4Play’ strike you?
The vision for 4Play is to become a leading industry benchmark for cutting edge content in the domain of extreme and action sports. The team is divided in terms of their functional expertise.
The broad departments being:
1. Anuj Khurana – Camera, Script, Direction, Editing, Production
2. Shivam Aher – Camera, Concept, Direction, Editing
3. Soumya Sahoo – Graphic Design, Concept, VFX
4. Prashant Bhatt – Graphic Design, Concept and Content Creation
5. Utkarsh Mittal – Production Assistant
- Network and Content.
1. Kshitij Gupta – Content Research, Plan and Network Development
2. Ashray Misra – Research and Logistics
- Marketing and IT.
1. Sukrit Gupta – Sales and Marketing Strategy
2. Shantanu Negi – Marketing (Online and Offline – Content Distribution, Programming, and Engagement)
3. Abhilash Mahajan – Web and Marketing specific technology
Rather than keeping the roles in watertight compartments, we keep functional flexibility. For instance, Sukrit and Kshitij also assume the roles of text content editors, Kshitij also does accounts, Soumya also directs certain video stories, and Teja and Misty take charge of team outings.
Did you notice they’ve just mentioned Teja and Misty? People go awestruck when they hear that a startup is operating from Manali. Now, another awestruck moment comes along with it when people look at their team section.
What’s Teja doing there, guys? What do you guys cook for your dear co-founder? What reply can I expect if I drop a mail to Teja?
Teja inspires all things to be fun at 4Play. He used to be Sukrit’s running and training partner; he now serves as our chief hiking guide. Besides he also keeps the office space quite amusing and colorful which is very critical given the number of hours we put in perfecting the content that we serve.
We eat what Teja eats; chicken and rice being his favourite. But he also compromises with okra (bhindi) and dal whenever the team plans to eat vegetarian.
Usually dry and slapstick humor (that is how he is). If you write to him, he may ask for dog bones (those being his favourite treats). And if you really send him some; he might surprise you in return.
So, now, we have Teja, Misty, and the other folks who altogether making things possible for 4play. One thing that keeps them going is love. Too cheesy as it sounds, too adoring when one be given.
As I always believe, it’s not only about the product but also, the team behind the product, in the times where “deal with it” is the new cool.
These folks also have a sheer love for music, cinema, food and what not, that surely millennials love and many chase to drive this love.
So life is happening with you, all, tell us about your lifestyle. How you guys start your day and end your nights? And what music you hear at times?
A typical day at 4Play starts at 7.30 in the morning. Since the team lives together, we take turns in walking our 4 legged teammates (Teja and Misty). After our morning rituals; we gather around 10 am over breakfast and tea in the kitchen and discuss the day’s schedule (who is doing what discussions).
Active work starts at 11am. Broad planning and strategy meets take place once to twice a week in the morning or around midday. At around 3/4pm most of us go out for bouldering, climbing, slacklining, short walks etc. We gather again in the office around 7pm. Wind up work by 8.30-9.00pm. Have dinner; do whatever and go to bed by 11.30-12.00. The focus being on actual work rather than the number of hours put in.
On the other side, we have quite some musicians and artists in house, who serve us the live entertainment. Plus Teja, skateboarding, workout challenges, this all keeps our space fun and ever evolving.
(More on their work culture here that they also have a reason to not having colourful bean bags at their office).
How did this idea of 4play encounter? And what are your favourite streams in adventure sports?
Being content creators ourselves for several years now, we felt that somehow the audience for such content is underserved and there was a lack of video content creation in the domain. There’s a need gap we assessed from our experience in the industry which lead to the inception of 4Play.
Our favourite sports are climbing, skydiving, BASE Jumping, Kayaking, Paragliding, Skiing, Snowboarding, Slacklining but our content offering is not limited to just these sports.
What are your observations and experiences with people, of people, and about people? What are the factors that keep you going?
Since all of us come from diverse backgrounds and with plentiful of diverse experiences I’d limit my answer to a basic understanding. Simple, Stupid and Honest is appreciated.
Everyone wants to fall in love. You need to find the right wave to connect. And that is what we are trying to do as content creators – connect with people at an emotional level – keeping this simple stupid and honest at the same time. No pretences.
The one honest lesson we unanimously believe in – Keep at it. Persist. Perfect your art. Up the ante and you’ll get there.
Where do you guys hail from?
Most of us have a sound background in content creation, some of us are active adventure sports people and all of us are moving ahead to excel in both the domains (content creation and extreme sports). We come from different places from India – from Uttaranchal to Orissa and everywhere in between.
What have your parents to say about what all you’re doing?
All of us also, fortunately, enjoy thorough support from our families; and it’s also because we have taken the pains to not become rebels without a cause; and have instead proven and demonstrated to our respective concern groups (family and friends) the potential that is locked in what we do; and the value that we aim to bring to the world.
Do y’all miss home?
We do miss our folks back at home but, we have also created a family of sorts here as well.
And last but not the least, what does the life mean to you?
Life is simpler than you thought (but that’s just us – the team – and me, Sukrit).
And, the life has happened to me after listening to them, and no doubt, everybody has a story, and they’ve just told their one. I suggest you drop a mail to Teja and see, how life happens to you too. Make work your play and they have made it, 4Play.