Women in Streaming – Interview with Kinnari Dave

Intro: In the “Women in Streaming” series of articles, we talk to incredible women who have contributed a lot to the growth of the video streaming industry and share their stories. In this series instalment, we talk to Kinnari Dave, the Deputy VP & Head of Product and Innovation at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.

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Kinnari Dave is a product leader with over 18 years of experience in the digital space specializing in driving vision and roadmap for businesses. Kinnari has lead teams of product managers and engineers at eMbience Inc, Hungama, IndusOS, Vobok. Kinnari is currently the Deputy-VP and Head of Product and Innovation at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.

Q) Thank you for joining us on this interview, Kinnari. Please tell our readers about yourself and your career so far.

Across 18 transformative years, my journey seamlessly wove the threads of cutting-edge technology with the ever-evolving tapestry of consumer entertainment habits. It all began at Mobile2win, where I dove headfirst into the digital realm through immersive Key Account Management engagements spanning the U.S., Middle East, and China.

Beyond conventional boundaries, I delved into the vibrant landscape of mobile games and applications. Moving forward, I joined eMbience Inc as Sr. Business Manager – APAC (SAAS), charting a course marked by strategic development and implementation of segment-specific business strategies. My role extended to key account management across India, UAE, and Indonesia, ensuring unwavering commitment to delivery excellence and service quality.

Venturing into startups, I thrived at Indus OS and Vobok, mastering disruptive platforms and political influencer integration on a pioneering voice-based social media network.

At Hungama Digital Media, I catalyzed the music streaming service’s surge from fourth to India’s second-largest via strategic partnerships, learning from global tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and East-based players like Xiaomi and Hisense.

These diverse experiences bridged East-West digital ecosystems, honing a nuanced understanding of innovation and strategy. Throughout this voyage, I’ve proudly pioneered industry-first innovations, forged strategic partnerships, and orchestrated successful product launches locally and globally. Guided by a resolute commitment to data-driven decision-making and an unwavering consumer-centric approach, my dedication lies in crafting extraordinary user experiences and consistently elevating the products I champion.

Today, as Deputy VP & Head of Product and Innovation at Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd, I am poised to harness these learnings to steer our digital products toward unprecedented heights of innovation and success.

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Q) What excites you about video streaming and OTT that has led to your long stint in the industry?

The world of video streaming and OTT is incredibly dynamic and fast-paced, which excites me the most. This industry provides a canvas for innovation, where we can continuously explore new technologies, enhance user experiences, and deliver high-quality content to millions of viewers globally.

The constant evolution of consumer preferences and technological advancements challenges me to push the boundaries of what’s possible in digital entertainment.

Being at the forefront of this transformative industry allows me to create products that profoundly impact people’s lives, enriching their entertainment experiences and forging meaningful connections. The joy of witnessing our products reach a global audience, and the opportunity to pioneer ground-breaking solutions keep me deeply engaged and invested in this ever-evolving industry.

Q) A common challenge facing all OTTs is increasing their subscriber base and reducing churn. As the Deputy VP of Product and Innovation, what product-focused steps do you believe are essential to maintain subscriber loyalty and prevent churn?

Maintaining subscriber loyalty and reducing churn are critical aspects for the success of any OTT platform. To achieve these goals, a product-focused approach is essential. Firstly, understanding our subscribers’ preferences and behaviours through data analysis and user feedback is crucial. This enables us to tailor personalized content recommendations and deliver an engaging user experience.

Second, continuous innovation and introduction of unique features keep our platform fresh and appealing to our audience. I believe in providing value-added features, such as exclusive content, interactive experiences, and seamless cross-device functionality, to keep subscribers engaged and invested in our platform.

Lastly, proactive communication and targeted retention strategies, such as personalized offers and rewards, demonstrate our commitment to our subscribers and encourage them to stay loyal to our platform.

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Q) What primary objectives will your product team achieve this year to drive the platform’s success?

The product team aims to achieve several key objectives this year that align with driving the platform’s success.

First and foremost, we are dedicated to enhancing the user experience through highly personalized and recommended content. This entails harnessing advanced algorithms to curate content that resonates with each viewer’s preferences, fostering a deeper connection and engagement. Another pivotal focus area is the improvement of the connected TV experience.

Related:  Women in Streaming - Interview with Carrie Wootten

We recognize the growing significance of connected TVs as a primary medium for content consumption. Thus, we diligently refine the interface and interaction to ensure effortless navigation and immersive engagement.

As we look ahead, the integration of AI for media and entertainment holds excellent promise.

Leveraging AI-driven insights and analytics, we strive to enhance content discoverability, tailor recommendations, and refine our overall content strategy, contributing to a richer and more dynamic viewing experience. Furthermore, our exploration into the realm of AI extends beyond content discovery and recommendation. We are streamlining content transcoding through sophisticated AI algorithms, ensuring the content is optimized for diverse devices and platforms without compromising quality.

Looking ahead, AI is poised to stretch its imaginative wings even further, possibly venturing into content creation itself. While still in its infancy, the prospect of AI-generated content creation opens doors to innovative storytelling and diverse content offerings. The convergence of human creativity and AI’s computational prowess holds exciting potential for the future of media and entertainment.

Our product team aims to create a holistic and delightful user experience empowered by personalization, advanced technology, and innovation. We aim to bolster the platform’s success and cement its position as a frontrunner in the digital entertainment landscape through these initiatives.

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Q) As you might have noticed, fewer women are in product/tech leadership roles. What should change to improve gender diversity in product and engineering?

Gender diversity is pivotal in cultivating an all-encompassing and inventive work milieu. In the Indian context, augmenting gender diversity in product and engineering necessitates a multifaceted approach.

Encouraging young women to embark on technology careers from a nascent stage is of paramount importance. Initiatives such as mentorship programs, scholarships, and targeted tech education campaigns aimed at girls can germinate an interest and bolster the confidence required to tread the path of STEM disciplines.

Companies, too, bear a pivotal role in effectuating change. Incorporating diversity and inclusion programs within their frameworks, along with initiatives like unconscious bias training, can aid in dismantling barriers and fostering a level playing field. Transparent hiring practices accentuate equal opportunity, signalling a collective commitment to parity.

In this regard, Shemaroo Entertainment sets a commendable example, undertaking noteworthy efforts to advance gender diversity.

Celebrating distinct viewpoints and acknowledging their significance in the company’s fabric fosters innovation and resonates with aspirants seeking a nurturing environment.

In the Indian milieu, celebrating successful women leaders as paragons is crucial. Elevating their achievements and underlining their journeys as inspirations can kindle the aspirations of budding women professionals, envisaging themselves at the helm of product and tech leadership roles.

Q) Any advice to newcomers into OTT – be it engineering, product, or growth?

To newcomers entering the dynamic world of OTT, I would offer the following advice:

  • Embrace curiosity and a learning mindset: The OTT industry is ever-evolving, and staying curious and open to learning is essential to thrive in this fast-paced environment.
  • Understand your audience: Truly understanding the preferences and needs of your audience is fundamental to delivering exceptional user experiences and creating content that resonates.
  • Be data-driven: Data is the backbone of product decisions in OTT. Utilize data analytics to make informed decisions, optimize user experiences, and drive business growth.
  • Embrace innovation: The OTT landscape is ripe for innovation. Embrace emerging technologies and trends to create groundbreaking solutions that captivate audiences.
  • Foster collaboration: The success of OTT platforms relies on collaboration between diverse teams. Work closely with content creators, marketers, and tech experts to deliver a cohesive and seamless user experience.
  • Stay adaptable: The industry constantly evolves, so adapting to change is crucial. Embrace challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve.
  • Most importantly, be passionate about what you do: A genuine passion for entertainment and technology will drive your creativity and commitment to creating exceptional products that bring joy to millions of viewers worldwide.

With passion, determination, and a focus on delivering user value, newcomers can embark on a rewarding journey in the OTT industry, shaping the future of digital entertainment.

Q) Finally, we come to our rapid-fire section – a list of fun questions about you.

  • Favorite way to relax: Playing board games with kids
  • Favorite cuisine: Italian & Mumbai Street Food
  • Favorite travel destination: Seattle, Manali
  • Favorite movie or web series: The Pursuit of Happyness, Interstellar
  • Favorite sport: These days, I’m enjoying my kiddo’s sport – Rifle Shooting
  • Favorite airport to transit: Singapore

Thank you, Kinnari, for this wonderful interview, and we wish you all the best.

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