A picture is worth a thousand words. Gautami Challagulla and Manikrishna Chadaram were attracted by the visual medium to tell tales, though not necessarily theirs. The aspiring filmmakers started Wings and Oars Media Comm, which works on building digital dossiers, digital lores, educational videos and training modules. Ten months into running Wings... has lived the much cherished dream through 48 projects. “As we were graduating from the university, our philosophy was simple — we wanted to tell stories through videos,” says Gautami, who doubles up as director of R&D and sales.
In the final year of their MA communication programme at University of Hyderabad, Gautami and Manikrishna were selected for a UN-funded internship at Kenya — they had to develop a short film for small and medium scale enterprises in the African country. The company, which hired them decided to seek their help for other projects as well and the idea for a visual media company germinated. “We pooled in the money we had earned from the internship, around Rs 54,000 each, bought a digital SLR and held the first board meeting at my parents’ home in April 2012,” reminisces Gautami.
The decision was difficult to explain, especially for Gautami, an engineering graduate who decided to pursue communication. “My father was surprised that I chose to start a company after quitting a job which paid me a handsome amount every month,” she says. For Manikrishna the idea was clear. “A couple of days before our courses were to end, we sat down and discussed the dream of making a film someday. I was able to convince her that it is okay if we make our big film five years down the line but meanwhile we can do what we love by telling other people’s stories,” he says. Manikrishna managed to convince Gautami to set up a firm than move to Dubai.
The company works at reducing dependence on external equipment and manpower. “It is a usual practice to hire equipment for various productions but we would like to be free of that eventually. We have four verticals and we want to set up a unit, invest in it till it generates revenue and move on to the next,” explains Manikrishna. The team of five started drawing their first salary of `6,o00 three months ago and the company has already broken even, having served 15 clients so far — some of them are IEEE, Indian Academy of Sciences, Infosys and Microsoft.
From the start a little push from the university helped the duo progress on their chosen path. “Our university is one of our major clients and we are creating a visual dossier. We lecture at the university and upload the material on YouTube for students. The videos have already recorded 3,000 visitors,” says Gautami. Wings… is also developing a module for a city-based corporate hospital. “Our forte is developing training modules for usually mid- and low-level employees, who are not trained at the beginning of their employment as the companies lack manpower. Our videos include interactive elements like puzzles and games,” explains Gautami. The duo hope to be filmmakers soon.