Canada Startup GetFilmi Launches Unlimited Indian Film Subscription Service

Toronto-based startup GetFilmi has announced the launch of their premium movie subscription service offering unlimited instant streaming of Indian movies for a low monthly fee.

Founder Qasim Virjee wants his service to be the easiest way to discover blockbuster, independent or documentary Indian film without a cultural learning curve. Global streaming capabilities allow anyone to access the $7.99 per month service along with English and soon-to-be French and Spanish subtitles.

“We want to be that go-to place for anyone anywhere in the world to watch quality titles that are actually representative of Asia,” said Virjee. “We’ve really tried to take a global approach to the content and this is a catalog of award-winning content.”

To do this GetFilmi has enlisted the services of several curators with programming experience in the film industry, from the likes of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) or Tribeca Film Festival. An automated recommendation engine (similar to Amazon’s) suggests additional titles to members based on genre, cast & crew, release date and other information.

For Virjee, appealing to new viewers of Indian cinema is as important as a regular Bollywood fan.

“We’re not taking that bizarre mentality that a lot of other people with Indian content are taking where they basically license up as many Indian films as they can and put them in the same place,” he told Techvibes. “That leads to a bit of confusion to first time viewers.”

The founder takes a serious approach to partnerships and potential investors. Those studios and producers in Bombay who are licensing their content to him are doing so only after Virjee spent months studying the landscape and building meaningful relationships.

“I did spend a good amount of time last year negotiating licensing but also making sure that everyone involved in GetFilmi understood what the vision behind the company was and to make sure we had that personal dialogue so we could help each other,” said Virjee.

He’s also as outspoken as he is hard working. He doesn’t hide how he feels about large and often impersonal, surface-based pitch contests, after attending the International Startup Festival’s Elevator World Tour event a few months ago in Toronto. While the novelty of the event was positive, according to Virjee the type of investor relationship he was looking for wouldn’t be found amid 100 people clamoring for attention.

“I’m a little skeptical of the impact I would have as one of x amount of people in a lineup pitching to the same financer, that’s definitely not the approach that I think will yield results,” said Virjee. “The conversations that I’ve been having that have been the most interesting and most potential for investment have been the one-on-one introductions and a more personal approach.”

It’s unlikely he’ll have to worry about future investment though, with a large Indian film market waiting to use GetFilmi, and few competitors matching up. He made the decision a few months ago to continue bootstrapping through 2013, however there could still be strategic alliance investors coming on board.

By June Virjee expects the platform to be prevalent in mobile and tablet apps as well as Google TV. He’s commissioned a few “very interesting partners” to help them in this respect. GetFilmi is also working on new, engaging and creative ways to present Indian cinema through multimedia platforms and possibly even a second office in Bombay in 2014.