Re-inventing The Celeb-Fan Connect
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Little did a 17-year-old British psychedelic trance musician fathom that years later he would become an entrepreneur developing Apps, not for anyone, but the likes of Rolling Stones. Meet Benji Vaughan, a successful entrepreneur who recently collaborated with Bollywood actress, Sonam Kapoor to develop an app, which is also named after her. Kapoor is first from the fraternity to launch a direct celebrity-to-fan based app. The app features her films, her take on fashion, travel, books, food, family, and friends. It is available for download on the Google PlayStore and the Itunes app.
For Vaughan, the decision to collaborate with Sonam Kapoor came out of a casual conversation with Varun Talreja, who is a childhood friend of the actor. “Varun discussed the idea with me, saying it would work wonders in India. I took a flight to Mumbai, met Sonam and things fell in place. ”
Talking about his first meeting with the actress, Vaughan says, “Sonam is a thorough professional and calls the app her home. She loves her fans and really wants to engage with them.” Vaughan does not have a fling but a full-fledged affair with India.
“I have been coming to India since I was a teenager. I was DJing in parties and clubs in Pune, Mumbai and other cities. I have travelled through India a lot. It is extremely exciting country.”
Hitting Entrepreneurial Notes
Describing the app as a ‘first window for artists’ content, Vaughan ventured into the world of making apps out of necessity, the situation where you want a product and you can’t find it. What do you do? Well, you build it.
“I spent my 20s writing music, producing other artists, and touring around the world endlessly. During that period I saw the collapse in value of the music file, but rapid rise in the ways to connect with your audience. I founded Disciple with the intention of giving content creators the ability to directly engage with their audience.”
Vaughan and his cofounder formed the company in 2015. Though, they went through a fair share of nightmares while starting up, the duo were lucky with seedround of funding.
“Our biggest challenge was setting up the business, innovating in it, and getting it all together. I could not help but ask him on working with the world’s best rock band, the Rolling Stones.
“We reached out to Joyce Smyth, the manager of the Rolling Stones. She saw the opportunity of the Stones building an audience on a platform they controlled and was keen to see if the Stones archive and future content could be better exploited through an app than it currently was being through Youtube, Facebook, etc. The band has been an amazing client to work with - always responsive and always thoughtful.” Vaughan likes to listen to different kinds of music. He admires Pandit Ravi Shankar,
singer Norah Jones, and music-composer A R Rahman.
The power Lies Within
Vaughan has always believed in the power of a team. His journey wouldn’t have been possible without it. “We have 24 people working with us in different roles and I am very proud of each one of them.”
Talking of his expansion plans, Vaughan says he was keen on collaborating with IPL teams and other Bollywood actors. “I cannot take names, but we have been approached by Bollywood actors. Also, cricket is a big thing in India. We would like to work with them too in the future.”
Imagine how well that would work with the cricket crazy nation as ours!
What rockstar Mick Jagger once wrote holds true for Vaughan, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need."
This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (June 2016 Issue).