Maverick Studios making its mark in the local market

Staff Correspondent
Thursday, September 21st, 2017


 

The furniture was barely visible under the piles of books, papers, and gadgets in Afeef Zubayer Zaman’s bedroom in his family’s house at Kalabagan. The bedclothes were spilling over from the futon and empty chip bags littered the corners. It was the kind of bedroom one would expect of a typical young man attending university – except for the giant iMac on the desk, another large monitor set into the largest bookshelf, and three red-eyed guys sprawled on the floor and bed, editing videos.

 

This was the headquarters of Maverick Studios, makers of corporate audio visuals. Maverick is a partnership started by eight third-year students of the Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University. With a handful of computers, hard work, and creativity, Afeef and his friends are churning out a product that has a huge demand and very few suppliers.

 

“There is a large gap in the market for audio visuals” Sadman Alvi, another partner at Maverick, explains from his prone position on the bed. “We’re not talking about movies and dramas or even TVCs. These are the internal videos that organizations use to disseminate information to employees, present a project to clients and even to show at colleges and universities during recruitment drives.”

 

Videos are also necessary for corporate events. “Say a company has a 50th anniversary and they want a video about all their achievements” said Sidrat “We can make that for them.”

 

The Market

 

Currently, there aren’t many organisations doing what Maverick is doing. “There are some sectors involved in the video making business” explained Sidrat Talukder, yet another partner at Maverick. While joining segments of videos and adding animation, he described how the market has ‘very little guys’ and ‘very big guys’ and nothing in-between.

 

The little guys are very little. Some are single-man operations in Nilkhet, who edit video clips. There are freelance directors and editors, and often they are hired on a project-by-project basis by the big firms. The problem with these people is that often they do not understand exactly what is needed. And even if they do, they don’t have the technical knowledge necessary to deliver it. “And they have no business sense” added Afeef from behind the iMac monitor.

 

The big guys are the ad firms – they create the storyboard, the script, hire directors and voice actors, and then go to an animation firm to do the animations for the video. They can deliver high quality, with a staggeringly high price tag. “They’re not really interested in small projects like these corporate videos” Afeef continues “It’s not profitable for them. They do TVCs and design campaigns.”

 

Maverick, on the other hand, is a one-stop solution. They are contacted directly by a client corporation, who tell directly them what they want. If they have no specifications, Maverick will come up with the ideas, the script and storyboard. They can even direct the video, edit it, add animations and music, and whatever else necessary. And they do it for very reasonable rates. “We can produce high quality videos, but we won’t charge exorbitant prices” said Sidrat. “We focus on delivering value”.

 

The Product

 

Maverick’s main advantage was that it was easy to start. There was almost zero investment initially, because all of them already had computers and laptops. Video and sound editing software was available, and all of the partners had some experience in shooting and editing videos because of prior experience in school and university functions. None of them have any formal training; all they know, they’ve taught themselves.

 

“There really isn’t any way to get proper formal training in Bangladesh” said Sadman “There’s no place which teaches this kind of thing properly”.

 

Once a client contacts Maverick, they have numerous sittings in order to understand exactly what the client wants. Sometimes a client will only have a few suggestions and maverick will have to do the work of coming up with the ideas, storyboard, and script, and then shoot and direct the video. In those cases they have to charge the client a high fee. If the client already has a script and video material, they will charge less. “The fee depends on the content” said Sidrat. “It is proportional to the amount of work we have to do”.

 

Since Maverick is a partnership, their business model is very flexible. There is no one to report to; everyone can make decisions for the entire group. They also have the same skills, and constantly teach each other the new things they pick up. Having no individual areas of specialization makes them more agile and capable than the smaller firms. They are also delivering TVC quality work for much less than what the big Ad firms would want. Maverick has been running for only 6 years now, and already it has raked in a significant number of revenue.

 

“We are ploughing back all profits into the business”, said Afeef, swiveling in his chair. He patted the iMac monitor, a monster 27-inch thing with astounding screen resolution. “We’re investing in equipment, software, licenses, office space, and cameras. Right now whenever we need to shoot something, we have to rent cameras and pay the camera operators. As soon as we can afford it we’ll have our own cameras.”

 

“And then we’ll have to learn how to operate them,” adds Sidrat from behind him “Added pain.”

 

The Marketing

 

Maverick started out with the events at IBA. “The first video we ever made was a comedy for the Pohela Boishakh function at IBA” said Sidrat “We used to call ourselves Laddu Guddu Productions. We had so much fun doing that.” They kept on making videos for subsequent events at IBA. Gradually, the seniors and the alumni came to recognize the group of boys as the ‘guys who make the funny videos’.

 

“We really owe our alumni” said Sidrat “The IBA Alumni Association gave us one of our first jobs, to make a video for the Alumni reunion.” Graduates from IBA referred Maverick to clients after seeing their videos at graduations, freshers and other IBA functions.”

 

Of course, glowing recommendations have to be earned. Maverick has to ensure that they retain their customers. To that end, they emphasize intensely on quality. They communicate with their customers constantly, giving progress updates and taking feedback. They will go to the clients several times throughout the production process and demonstrate what they have so far, to ensure the results match the client’s expectations. They even delivered a video personally for a client to Pabna, at their own expense, because the client had to leave in a hurry and could not take it from them before he left.

 

When asked about whether starting the business was worth it, they talked about the things they had to give up. There is the opportunity cost of starting their business is getting a good job. And then there are the other things they have to give up. “We don’t have a social life” admits Afeef “We barely have time for classes and studying.”

 

However, they don’t have time to dwell on these thoughts, as they’re too busy expanding their range of services. Sadman gets up and turns on the other computer while Afeef hands me a pair of 3D glasses. I put them on and watch open-mouthed as a stunning 3D video started to play. Soon Maverick will offer the option of 3D videos to their clients. The technology for making these videos is very new, of course. What little free time they have is spent researching how to use the 3D video software, and how to get license for using the technology. “We’re still learning from scratch, because this is a prototype technology.” Said Sadman proudly. “but we’ll have it in hand. And once we do, we’ll be the pioneers of 3D Audio Visuals in Bangladesh”.

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