Builing Book A Smile

An Executive Summary on we built BookMyShow's CSR Arm


In 2014 I was finally able to make the pivot from a Journalist to Corporate, by working with my first start-up Book My Show (BMS). As an ex-journalist, I was able to leverage my media connections & experience to take over at BMS as a Corporate Communications Manager. However, as I wanted to hit the ground running in Business Development & Project Management and so took charge of executing Special Projects. As I was reporting directly to the Founder & CEO, there were a number of incomplete and projects that failed to launch and needed execution without delay. These projects however fell through the cracks as they weren't under the direct purview of any established department nor did they have spare manpower to execute them.

Sensing an opportunity to get the ball rolling I took it upon myself to take charge of these projects along with my duties of improving internal and external communications. Having no team of my own I would have to liaise with multiple teams to create a cross-functional team of my own to execute the projects given to me. A strong reliance on an inclusive leadership style allowed me to work with the Technology, Legal, Corporate, and Operations teams to execute my tasks.

This report thus is a summary of what I learned executing the most important of these projects, the building and creation of BookMyShow's Corporate Social Responsibility Arm (CSR) arm BookASmile. 


Target at the Beginning

To create a new, registered entity for a Corporate Social Responsibility operation, called Book A Smile.

  1. To Build the Department: Hire an HoD, Operations & Partnerships Manager
  2. To Identify the Objectives: To identify the short-term and long-term goals of the initiative.
  3. To Secure Donations: To create a Pool of Donations, Sponsorships & Funding. 
  4. To build the Brand: To build a landing page, Logo, and Tagline for the initiative.
  5. To Support NGOs: To partner with NGOs that are aligned with the initiative's goals.
  6. To Get Publicity: To have the platform featured in the media

Challenges at the Onset

  1. Lack of Co-ordination: As the projects were of no urgency and not mandated to the teams I had to liaison with, work/progress on their execution was of the least priority.
  2. No Budget Allocated: Executing these projects was a test of frugality. There would be no allocated budget until and unless there was a clear benefit to the company and modus to show improved parameters
  3. No Expertise: As an ex-journalist, the only expertise I had was in collecting and vetting information, and had no expertise in the Legalities of registering a CSR, nor the technical expertise of creating unique identification.

Project Sprint: The Execution

Despite the many challenges, what I did have was a keen eye for bringing people together. With none of the teams willing to prioritize the projects mandated to me, I would have to display a leadership style that would ensure an incentive to the team directly as opposed to executing a task mandated to me. I thus would have to rely on an inclusive leadership style to get teams to coordinate and work together.

How we built BookASmile? 

1 . Getting the Team Together: BookASmile was the brian chain of Farzana Balpande, who wished to create a platform to help and develop NGOs in Children & Youth Development. As BookMyShow needed to establish a CSR initiative as well, the Start-Up ultimately decided to support Farzana by bringing her under the BookMyShow Umbrella to create BookASmile. Along with Farzana, we had to set about fulfilling the mandate objectives.

2. Creating the Branding & Logo: The Name & Logo. The thought behind BookMyShow was to get customer participation to donate toward supporting the development of underprivileged children. And so with each small donation, the customer could provide a little smile to the children the platform could help. Hence the name "Book A Smile". For the Logo, multiple ideas came through from the design department, but ultimately we decided to go ahead with the iconic BookMyShow Ticket design, helping customers related to the brand.

3. Raising Funding: As this was a BookMyShow CSR initiative, BookMyShow would put in the majority share, however, to make the initiative more successful and add a larger contribution to the pie, we decided to bring in larger sponsors and most importantly allow all BMS Customers a chance to donate to the cause at the checkout. And so way back in 2014, far before many other start-ups brought in CSR initiatives at checkout. I'm proud to say BookASmile was the first.

4. Looking for NGOs to Support: India has an enormous basket of NGOs working on Social Causes. With a clear focus on children & youth development, we set about meeting multiple different NGOs looking for causes with which we could help. Moreover, we were looking for programs with Tangible change, and so after 5 months of diligence, we ultimately decided to support 3 NGOs.



BookASmile Landing Page

BookMyShow Checkout

BookASmile NGO Partners

Project Review: Achievements at EoY

  1. To Build the Department: Hired Farzana Balpande to serve as Head of the Department and Ms. Daneen Ali as Manager of Partnership & Operations.
  2. To Identify the Objectives: A core objective to support Child & Youth Development was agreed upon. 
  3. To Secure Donations: The Platform raised more than $ 15,000 in funding from various donations in its first year.
  4. To build the Brand: An Iconic Logo, landing page, and brand were created. 
  5. To Support NGOs: The platform partnered with Yuva, Akansha, and Magic Bus as NGOs to support.
  6. To Get Publicity: BookASmile was extensively covered by the media's features & city Sections.

Project Retrospective

My time at BookMyShow was highly fulfilling, knowing well, that the projects I had implemented had a lasting impact for the benefit of the company and its employees. Of course, now I can articulate better the lessons I've learned and the experience I can take forward.

  1. Inclusive Leadership is best: Take credit for none and allow the team to revel in the success of actual creation. 
  2. Working with multiple teams requires genuine interest: In a world of remote working and communications via electronic media, nothing works better than spending in-person time with a team. As a liaison between multiple teams I could just between a gateway for communications, however, I took a genuine interest in learning what each team does, what their challenges were, what their individual and team targets were, and how the team fits into the larger scheme of things. Be it Back-end Tech, Front-end Tech, SEO, Operations, Design & Content, or Legal, I was able to deeply interact with each team and befriend them. I was therefore able to make the teams prioritize the BookASmile project. 
  3. Clarifying the Approval Hierarchy: All my projects needed approval from the top, and so the time spent redoing certain tasks also took up much time. In hindsight, I realize that segregating tasks into those that need approval and those that don't not only save you a lot of time but also saves a great deal of miscommunication. 
  4. Transparency is Key: As a single-man team, tasked with multiple projects, it is very important to keep all Stakeholders regularly informed about what the daily work routine is, what weekly targets are, and perhaps even what the monthly target is. This could be done as a Newsletter, Report Email, Weekly Meeting, or even a simple presentation. But recognizing all stakeholders and their relevance to your projects is important.
  5. Research before Creating: Realise that pretty much everything that can be done or learned has a course or learning resource or reference white paper available on the internet. Learning how to look for information and resources is an art that is key for implementing any kind of project. Creating a template or process of your own not only leads to time delays, missing gaps and also amateurish output.