BollyX’s High Potential Not Enough to Land a Deal

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BollyX Founder Shahil Patel broke out all the moves and enthusiasm when pitching his dance fitness platform to the Sharks. However, the Sharks did not share the same enthusiasm once they learned more about Patel’s company.

BollyX is a fitness regime designed around traditional Bollywood dance found in India’s film industry. It is also an OnDemand platform that allows consumers to access routines and videos via the company’s own proprietary online platform and YouTube videos. The inspiration for BollyX comes from Patel’s experience teaching himself Bollywood dance moves and taking his former college’s Bollywood dance team to the semifinals of America’s Got Talent. It’s worth noting that he spent a year and a half comparing his moves on camera to professional moves found on YouTube videos to master his craft. After a high energy routine to begin his pitch, Patel presents BollyX as a $4.69 million company by asking for a $375k investment for 8% equity.

Impressed by his background and commitment, the Sharks decided to dig into Patel’s business a bit more. They learned that the company primarily makes money through its 1,100 BollyX instructors, which pay the company $20 a month for access to the content and brand. BollyX also makes $9 per month off a small number of customers who want access to the company’s OnDemand workouts through mobile devices. O’Leary is particularly impressed with proven business through those customers, stating that subscription-based mobile media is a “proven model” for other similar businesses. On top of that, Patel totes high gross margins of around 86% and $1 million in lifetime sales.

With all that said, BollyX lost $600k last year on $315k in 2018 sales due to massive investment into their own proprietary platform, content, marketing, and branding. To make matters worse, BollyX only has about $75k in the bank to survive. After burning through a total of $1.7 million over 5 years to get BollyX to its current state, the Sharks are not particularly impressed with Patel’s strategy and vision. The Sharks ultimately decide to pass on BollyX, citing a lack of sustainable cash flow and no clear plan for future growth. Even Patel’s biggest fan Rohan Oza, a guest Shark who fell in love with BollyX right away, could not bring himself to invest in the company.

Analysis

While Patel’s valuation is way too high to be investible given BollyX’s current financial situation, he has a lot of positives here. His technology platform puts BollyX in a small class of fitness competitors that is poised to grow as consumers become more and more reliant on mobile devices for everything. It gives people in over 350 locations to date access to hundreds of routines, step-by-step tutorials, a BollyX community, and a custom workout builder. This immersive application gives consumers a unique, user-friendly exercise experience while also granting access to a community that aims to keep them coming back. Furthermore, he has a consistent following and content that doubles as both a fitness routine and entertainment.

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Patel’s baby is the technology platform. He’s thrown too much money into this technology for it not to work. As Cuban pointed out in the episode, it may have been wiser for Patel to work with an existing Video OnDemand application to get his platform off the ground at a fraction of the cost. To date, there’s nothing that justifies Patel spending as much as he did by developing his own platform. It will be the reason that BollyX succeeds or quickly crumbles.

As Patel continues to push the mobile platform, he should also try monetizing his BollyX instructors as much as he can. They can be of his biggest marketers for BollyX, especially if he partners with reputable trainers/gyms. Also, Patel could investigate offering classes in university recreation centers. Most of them have certification programs for students to become fitness instructors. Patel could potentially partner with schools to offer BollyX instructor training in addition to what universities already have in place to increase his user base and brand awareness.

While Patel may not be investible right now, BollyX has a lot of potential and other markets it could penetrate to keep things moving in the right direction. The company’s mobile technology gives it an edge on competitors who don’t offer similar options to consumers while his instructors give him consistent visibility and revenue. Patel believes he has a clear vision for BollyX’s future; we should soon find out if that’s true.




Quinn Donaldson