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Fastfilmz, an innovative startup that lets you watch latest HD movies on your mobile phone at dirt cheap price
High speed Wi-Fi and 3G networks might have made their presence felt in urban cities of India, but a majority of the rural population located around these big metro cities has to negotiate with poor mobile networks and disruptive mobile internet.

Indians love watching movies on the go, and the tier-2 and tier-3 cities being no exceptions. But downloading and viewing movies on mobile phones consumes large volumes of data and is also times taking.

"Two people living in England got smitten by the bug of entrepreneurship in 2014 and devised a new way by which people in India could watch movies in HD quality on their smartphones. The story of Fastfilmz in the story of Karam Malhotra and Dominic Charles, two people who worked for McKinsey in London and quit their jobs to relocate to India for pursuing their dream.

"With their research and thinking, the duo decided to use a technology for compressing videos in ten times better quality than the conventional MPEG format and beaming it through their designed cloud architecture, which could even run on low-speed data connections.

The best part, however, their services came at a dirt cheap price of Rs 30 a month for downloading unlimited movies in HD quality, that too without having to store them on the phone.

"Karam and Dominic, the founders of Fastfilmz got inspired by the compression technology being used by the tech firm V-Nova called `Perseus', which uses parallel processing to deliver videos in lower bandwidth and in lesser time.

Karam says, "We licensed this technology and decided to move to India with the hypothesis that we could build a platform for Indians to watch their favourite movies on the phone at the lowest costs and in high quality."

With their technology, a regular movie is available in a downloadable size of just 150 MB, which otherwise would be of at least 600+ MB of size in conventional MPEG format.

While Karam has done his graduation from Delhi University, Dominic studied literature at Oxford. Both of them later relocated to USA to acquire management degrees. 

For setting up Fastfilmz, the duo chose the city of Bangaluru as their research centre and the people of the state of Tamil Nadu as their trial users.

They conducted a research in six cities to understand movie-watching habits of common people and the price which they would be willing to shell out for watching their favourite flicks. To their surprise the response was overwhelming and most people were willing to pay for the services preferring their smartphones for best movie experience, provided that it did not result in high data costs.

With responses from almost 1000 respondents, Fastfilmz was born, transforming from a dream into a reality. Building the platform and the required technology for the project was the biggest challenge for them. One by one they built the backend for supporting multiple titles, languages and millions of users.

Then came the mammoth task of convincing studio owners, who were initially reluctant and wanted Fastfilmz to charge more than Rs 250 and also put a cap on the number of downloads per month. Many studios also provided them with substandard content. However, they finally managed to convince the studios on the benefits and how their content could be easily distributed and monetised.

Dominic says, "For over-the-top or OTT television to succeed pricing will determine the traction and manage data costs of pre-paid mobile users."

In OTT, internet becomes the primary mode of distribution of movie content without the need of appointing distributors or tying up with satellite and cable companies. The business model of the company is based upon revenue sharing, wherein studios get the maximum share of the revenue. The movie once downloaded can also be viewed offline later.

Karam says, "OTT is the future for studios who want to monetise their content."

The venture however is relatively new and was started with the personal savings of the founders and from investments by a few angel investors with high individual net worth. The company is yet to make significant revenues and hence has not disclosed the number of subscribers it currently has.

The potential user base is huge for Fastfilmz, considering that there are 75 million Tamils and millions of others who speak their regional languages in southern India. For now the startup is experimenting on the 75 million Tamils, and perhaps the next big leap would be to take the plunge into other regional markets before eventually entering Bollywood.

But for now, those of you who do speak Tamil and have an interest in Tamil cinema, the services of Fastfilmz are available on a two-week free trial with unlimited number of downloads. All you have to do is to log on to their site: fastfilmz.com.

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