Ex-COO of Times OOH, Farid Kureshi, floats own outdoor venture

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In OOH News | April 25, 2008
Kureshi's new venture, called Via OOH, has big plans for the out of home sector

Farid & #BANNER1 & # Kureshi, who quit Times OOH as chief operating officer in February, has now launched his own out of home venture called Via OOH. While he was at Times OOH, the company won several big contracts in India, including the Mumbai and Delhi airports, Patel Bridge and the DND Flyway.

Speaking on his decision, Kureshi, director, Via OOH, says, "The decision to launch Via came after a lot of introspection, analysis of the market, self-evaluation and the desire to work for oneself."

He adds, "We got into this business because the OOH market in India is still in its infancy. Except for a few organised players who control 15 per cent of the market, nothing much has changed at the ground level. It's still very fragmented and asset qualities are still an issue."

Kureshi feels that the biggest challenge for the industry is human resource with the majority of the people having little or no knowledge of the media landscape. "The market today provides an opportunity for us to build a portfolio of assets, backed by a strong team with expertise in media, marketing, sales and asset creation."

Farid Kureshi
According to Kureshi, his company's advantage is an understanding of advertising trends and media markets. They are the only team in India to have acquired and sold privatised airports. They also have expertise in acquisition sales and renewal, strong sales capability and networking, and a relationship with global, national and local clients.

To begin with, Via OOH will have a small team of about 10-12 people. Shamik Talukder, who is a founding member, will be based in Mumbai, while Kureshi will be based in Delhi.

The short term goals for Via OOH are to build a network of premier OOH properties in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore in the first phase and other Tier II cities in the second phase, including owned properties and marketing tie-ups for other properties. Mid-term goals will be to consolidate and build a network of billboards, flyovers and bridge panels through marketing tie-ups and partnerships with municipalities and infrastructure players. The company will also look at all markets that have a five million plus population. "For the long term, our vision is to be a leading out of home company in India by delivering quality assets across high growth segments and markets," says Kureshi.

Via will focus initially on India with presence in markets such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. It has signed on important assets in key markets, which it will announce soon. It has already acquired billboards and utilities in Mumbai and Delhi.

Looking forward, Kureshi thinks that the OOH industry is on the brink of growth, though still highly fragmented, similar to where cable was in the 1990s. He says, "There is bound to be consolidation, advent of better technology, regulations and, most important, research, a common currency to trade in."

"The Indian OOH space provides a great opportunity for early entrants because the market has small, unorganised players. With SEZs coming in, infrastructure being privatised and state governments looking at landscape beautification, the industry will grow to at least Rs 4,000 crore in the next few years. The whole canvas will change," he says optimistically.

Before Times OOH, Kureshi was with the Times Group in 2001, as national sales head for Radio Mirchi. He was appointed chief operating officer in 2005. He has also filled various roles at STAR India, across all genres - he was part of the team that launched cricket ad sales in India, and vice-president, India, STAR Movies.

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