times_privateThere are days where I look at a company and just shake my head at how simple the business model is. For me that company is Times Private Treaties (TPT) which is such a brilliant concept it amazes me and something that cannot be easily replicated.  TPT is part of the massive Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. (BCCL) group which publishes the flagship newspaper – Times of India.

BCCL is currently run by brothers Vineet and Sameer Jain* and according to Wikipedia has over 7,000 employees, 5 daily papers, over 30 magazines, 32 radio stations and 3 TV stations. In short, they have a massive footprint when it comes to consumer media services.

In 2005, Sameer Jain came upon a very simple but highly lucrative idea – barter ad space for equity stakes in new and existing companies. I’m not sure this would work in the US, but here in India it not only works but is highly successful. I’m only assuming it’s successful because their portfolio contains over 200 companies (see list below) and there must be something that attracts companies to TPT. I’ve known about TPT for several years but didn’t realize it’s size till I read that AEGON Religare a life insurance company is owned by TPT via a 30% equity stake.   TPT has also begun to advertise in the Times of India about the power of TPT and how it can help young companies reach a wide audience.

TPT can be viewed as a venture capital firm or private equity firm, but instead of handing over cash or providing management guidance they give you a marketing vehicle. And in India, that marketing vehicle is key.  You really have 3 avenues to pitch your product in India:

1. Actor – Bollywood pitch person or as they call them a brand ambassador
2. Sports – cricket player
3. TV/Newspaper/Magazines

With so few marketing avenues, the above 3 get very expensive for a new company and thus TPT enters the picture. So, next time you read the Times of India and wonder how a young company can spend a large amount on marketing dollars, more then likely it has TPT written all over it.

* Disclosure: I’m not related to Vineet or Sameer Jain, although I have requested to be adopted by them…still waiting for the adoption paperwork.

Below is a partial list of the TPT partnerships:

TPT_list