IT’S ALL IN THE GAME

The world of gam­ing and vir­tual re­al­ity have taken the world of en­ter­tain­ment by storm, go­ing by the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres and mul­ti­di­men­sional the­atres in ev­ery city. Among those to cash in on the bo­nanza is Ankur Ma­heshw

Marwar - - Contents - Text Joseph Rozario

The world of gam­ing and vir­tual re­al­ity has soared in pop­u­lar­ity with fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres mush­room­ing in cities. Among those to cash in on the bo­nanza is Ankur Ma­hesh­wary, who heads one of the sec­tor’s fastest grow­ing com­pa­nies.

THERE WAS A TIME, WHEN FAM­ILY EN­TER­TAIN­MENT MEANT a visit to the cin­ema, tak­ing a stroll on the beach, snack­ing on fast food, or head­ing for the park. The con­cept of fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment has changed since, es­pe­cially in the larger cities, and to­day for many fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment has come to in­clude a host of fun-filled ac­tiv­i­ties like bowl­ing, go-kart­ing, video games, rides, sim­u­la­tors, in­ter­ac­tive pro­jec­tions, snow play, etc. What adds to their al­lure is the fact that it is pure, clean fun, and usu­ally there is some­thing ex­cit­ing for ev­ery­one in the fam­ily. En­trants to this ex­cit­ing world of en­ter­tain­ment have been many since the fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment cen­tre con­cept gained pop­u­lar­ity over a decade ago and one among them is Ankur Ma­hesh­wary, the founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor of Mod­ern Masti Pri­vate Lim­ited. At 35, Ma­hesh­wary heads one of the fastest grow­ing re­tail­ing com­pa­nies en­gaged in bring­ing multi-di­men­sional cin­ema, gam­ing, bowl­ing and en­ter­tain­ment to cus­tomers.

Ankur Ma­hesh­wary’s grow­ing abil­i­ties as an en­tre­pre­neur shows in Mod­ern Masti hav­ing ex­tended its pres­ence to over 20 lo­ca­tions. In that, the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the Ma­hesh­warys of the Bhopal-based Mod­ern Group holds prom­ise as a dy­namic suc­ces­sor to fa­ther Ram Prakash Ma­hesh­wary’s 30-year busi­ness legacy. How it all be­gan “We are orig­i­nally from Jodh­pur. My fa­ther used to work with the Bir­las as a fi­nan­cial con­troller, be­fore he started on his own in 1989 in Gwalior,” says Ankur Ma­hesh­wary, talk­ing about his fa­ther’s an­tecedents and the fam­ily’s plunge into the world of en­ter­prise. “He for­ayed into var­i­ous in­dus­tries like tex­tiles and man­u­fac­ture of ceil­ing fans, gey­sers and other home ap­pli­ances, but the ceil­ing fan busi­ness was the key. We used to make the well-known ‘Mod­ern’ brand ceil­ing fans, which then was the num­ber one in gov­ern­ment sup­ply in In­dia.”

The flour­ish­ing ceil­ing fan busi­ness, how­ever, saw a nat­u­ral death with the end of its prod­uct life cy­cle and this had the fam­ily foray into in­dus­trial pack­ag­ing in 2008. Ankur Ma­hesh­wary, in the mean­while pro­ceeded to ESADE Busi­ness School in Spain for a man­age­ment de­gree, af­ter com­plet­ing his ‘In­dus­trial and Pro­duc­tion En­gi­neer­ing' course from the Delhi Col­lege of En­gi­neer­ing.

In 2010, he re­turned from Spain and joined the fam­ily busi­ness which then had in­ter­ests in in­dus­trial pack­ag­ing (Mod­ern Home Com­forts Pvt Ltd) and event man­age­ment (they owned a au­di­to­rium in Gwalior, Shyam Vatika, which of­fered ban­quet­ing fa­cil­i­ties). In ad­di­tion, the Ma­hesh­warys had huge in­vest­ments in var­i­ous in­di­vid­ual devel­op­ment realty projects in Gwalior and Jaipur and were also in­volved in phil­an­thropic and so­cial wel­fare ac­tiv­i­ties through the Saraswati Ma­hesh­wary Ed­u­ca­tion So­ci­ety, based in Gwalior.

Ankur’s in­ter­ests, how­ever, lay in other ar­eas. “When I came back, I thought we should do some­thing re­lated to tech­nol­ogy so we opened a tech­nol­ogy com­pany and started mak­ing soft­ware and hard­ware for mo­tion sim­u­la­tion prod­ucts which were meant for the com­mer­cial amuse­ment in­dus­try and also for de­fence projects,” he says. A world­wide name Mod­ern Techno Projects Pvt Ltd, the com­pany cre­ated for th­ese prod­ucts, went on to have a global clien­tele within a mat­ter of years, man­u­fac­tur­ing prod­ucts that formed a salient fea­ture of 5D/7D/9D the­atres, vir­tual re­al­ity gam­ing prod­ucts, vir­tual re­al­ity-based con­tent and RFID so­lu­tions. Their pop­u­lar gam­ing prod­ucts in­cluded Golf Sim­u­la­tors, XD Shoot­ing Sim­u­la­tors, In­ter­ac­tive Pro­jec­tions and other re­lated at­trac­tions and games that were ideal for fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres (FECs), game zones and game cen­tres.

Fo­ray­ing into re­tail

Spurred on by the suc­cess of the ven­ture, in 2014, Ma­hesh­wary turned his eyes towards re­tail. Ear­lier he used to make prod­ucts for other re­tail­ers, but now he was bent on hav­ing his own out­lets as well. Here too, suc­cess greeted the Young Turk, and to­day his re­tail com­pany, Mod­ern Masti Pvt Ltd, boasts over 21 out­lets across the coun­try, which are grouped un­der three broad cat­e­gories: Mastiii Zones (fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment cen­tres, of which there are eight in the coun­try); Mastiii 7D vanilla out­lets (posh, mul­ti­di­men­sional 5D/7D/9D/11D/XD the­atres hav­ing the lat­est equip­ment, of which he owns 15); and a sin­gle Snow Mastiii out­let (in­door snow play area).

Though most of th­ese out­lets are con­cen­trated in the north­ern part of the coun­try such as NCR, Mad­hya Pradesh, Ut­tar Pradesh, and Ra­jasthan, the com­pany also has made its pres­ence felt in Mum­bai and Ben­galuru through Mastiii 7D out­lets and now plans to launch its largest Mastiii Zone in Greater Noida.

Re­flect­ing on his achieve­ments, Ma­hesh­wary says, “In a re­tail busi­ness like ours, we have a wide range of of­fer­ings, and hence build­ing a con­sumer cul­ture isn’t a chal­lenge. The games and at­trac­tions avail­able at all our out­lets are ma­jorly fo­cused on fam­ily and group in­dul­gences, and our prod­uct mix is such that there is some­thing, ab­so­lutely world class, for ev­ery vis­i­tor.” To en­sure cus­tomer loy­alty, Ma­hesh­wary en­sures that ev­ery out­let is aes­thet­i­cally state-of-the art, new ma­chines are added al­most ev­ery quar­ter and the pric­ing is down to earth.

Plans for the fu­ture

Go­ing by the Mod­ern Group’s steep growth un­der Ankur Ma­hesh­wary, one could ex­pect am­bi­tious growth plans from the feisty en­tre­pre­neur. True enough, Ma­hesh­wary re­veals that by March 2019 he plans to add three more Mastiii zones and two more snow parks, and then, by 2025 dom­i­nate the amuse­ment park space with Mastiii zones in ev­ery re­gion. He also looks to in­or­ganic growth through ac­qui­si­tion of sin­gle and small chain op­er­a­tors at strate­gic lo­ca­tions and set up an amuse­ment park and wa­ter park to­gether in one premises. In th­ese en­deav­ours, he has the ac­tive sup­port of his wife Garima, who is a CA and CS and looks af­ter the group's fi­nan­cial plan­ning.

Be­yond busi­ness, Ma­hesh­wary loves to spend qual­ity time with his fam­ily, in­dulge in sports ac­tiv­i­ties and im­mensely en­joys read­ing. Read­ing ac­cord­ing to him is a great stress-buster, so un­der­stand­ably, his days usu­ally end with a peek at his Kin­dle un­til sleep over­takes him.

Clock­wise from top, left: A Mastiii Zone bowl­ing cen­tre; a vir­tual re­al­ity game at a Mastiii Zone; Ankur Ma­hesh­wary with wife Garima, son Naksh (left) and daugh­ter Vanya

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