Our Suits & Sneakers partner who produces the Small Business Showcase, Mark Sham, loves it when entrepreneurs take on established businesses to bring a more personalised offering to the market and we agree!
In this episode, we meet Akhil Nana, the founder of independent cinema, Egrek Cinema. Akhil is a passionate movie goer – he loves the big cinema experience and loved it even more when he was introduced to independent cinemas while working as an ex-pat in Switzerland.
When Akhil returned to South Africa, he contemplated how he could value to the world, and gravitating towards what he loved, the idea of an independent cinema began to take shape.
Akhil is unusual in that he doesn’t think of himself as an entrepreneur – instead, he started developing a vision and followed it, and a business was the natural result. It’s one of the reasons Akhil’s story is both lovely and heartwarming. He has just followed his passion, and the result is clearly evident to any moviegoers who visit Egrek Cinema.
“I started with the vision,” he explains. “I knew that if I had the vision, the rest would fall into place. My line is simple: a beautiful cinema experience.”
Absolutely everything that Egrek does must align with this line. It’s the guiding principle for every decision that Akhil and his team make.
Of course, while this is an excellent business philosophy, launching and running a small business will always bring complexities.
“I didn’t think about competitors and large theatre chains when I was thinking about my business idea,” admits Akhil. “On the one hand, this was a good thing – I think I would have been too discouraged otherwise. I just thought about what I love about the cinema experience and used that as my base.”
Which means that Akhil has learnt many lessons since launch – but they all serve to help him build a better business.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that even though this was my vision, at the end of the day, all my team and I have done is build the base. The way the business has developed has everything to do with our customers and what they want. We listen to them, and we shape the experience for them – always through the lens of a beautiful cinema experience.”
It’s an experience that Akhil also regularly checks in on. “I can go weeks without entering the cinema and watching a movie, but I need to do so as regularly as I can. It’s important to experience your business the ways customers do – only then can you be sure you are delivering on your vision.”
Sage advice indeed.
Watch the full video here:
To support Akhil’s business, you can: