What do Shekhar Kapur, AR Rahman and Bangalore-based Poonacha Machaiah have in common? And why have they formed a triumvirate?
"If you want to know my friends, find me on Facebook. To know my professional connections, check LinkedIn. If you want to know what makes me click, come to Qyuki!" says Machaiah, and it seems to be his favourite tag line these days. Explocity spoke to the Chief Expressions Officer of the company, to find out why the world needed another online hangout.
We make our way through the quirky office (with an auto-rickshaw workstation and a pushcart conference table) to our meeting with the brain behind Qyuki. The décor screams creativity and a sign reads ‘Your story will soon be heard.’ Poonacha Machaiah emerges from his cabin and joins us in a conversation about his joint venture with heavyweights Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman. Not bad company on a Saturday night.
As a techie he says, "We all have a creative side that has been suppressed since childhood." According to him, "Our teachers in school and college didn’t know any better, and we grew up hiding our non-academic talents. At Qyuki, we give you the platform to express such interests across various media."
"The website brings together the perks of Facebook, YouTube and Hulu. We enable users to share their creative content and connect with people who have similar interests." Machaiah explains further, "For instance, I've put up a video on Qyuki about the drying up of River Kaveri. Now, the site will suggest that I connect with a photographer who lives down the street and is interested in the same subject."
How did he manage to rope in Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman? Kapur was on the board of Machaiah's other venture, ABOVE, an acronym for A Bunch Of Versatile Entrepreneurs. Kapur got Rahman interested and together the three agreed that India, indeed the world, needed something that wasn't just another friend-finding website. The time was right they felt, for Qyuki, a platform that grouped people by interest.
"It’s easy for young talent to get discouraged by the difficulties one has to go through to attain recognition. Shekhar and Rahman also felt the need to come up with a launch pad and make it accessible to all."
The US-return techie tells us what inspired him to start up such a project. "It embarrasses me that in a country of over a billion people, we've barely won any recognition in the world of art, music or literature. We have four Booker Prizes, one Oscar and a few nominations here and there. We’re capable of much more," he asserts.
How does he hope to compete with a giant like Facebook? "Qyuki is in a league of its own," he states. "Facebook allows you to share videos, text and pictures, but not sound. So far, we haven’t had a platform where people could express their creativity across various mediums. That is the void we’re hoping to fill," he says.
Does this motivation come from an inclination towards art? "I’m an artist in my own right," he admits. "I used to be a hard-core techie in the beginning of my career. But in course of time, people told me that I had it in me to pursue arts."
Machaiah is now an avid biker and a photographer. "In fact, I got into photography after the start of Qyuki,” he adds. “The creative atmosphere in here encouraged the artist in me. And that’s what I think every budding talent needs!"