INTERVIEW: Madhuri Dixit and Dr Shriram Nene are looking to raise funds for their online dance school and a new healthtech venture

Madhuri Dixit and Dr Shriram NeneBI India
  • Dance With Madhuri has grown five times during lockdown, their health tech startup set to launch soon; the duo is also looking to raise funds through strategic partners.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, the Bollywood star and her doctor husband share their plans to grow their entrepreneurial ventures.
  • They are also looking at introducing acting, scriptwriting, gourmet cooking, music lessons, and more.
She has an experience of over 30 years in the Bollywood industry, with her dance having mesmerized thousands of fans, while he has an equally starry career in healthcare as a doctor. And now, the power couple Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Dr Shriram Nene are leveraging their experiences in their entrepreneurial venture.

Their 8-year old company – RnM Moving Pictures, started with the idea that one day all screens would merge, and the user will have the choice on 'how to view content'. And this premise could not be more apt now.

With their edutech venture, Dance With Madhuri, having grown five times during lockdown, and their health tech startup set to launch soon, the duo is also looking to raise funds through strategic partners.

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A 5X growth and investment on the cards

So, when the couple moved back to India in 2011, they were quick to recognize the need for dance education in the last mile and accessible healthcare for all. “At that time, there were barely 150 million internet users, today there are almost 600 million users,” said Dr Nene.

For Madhuri, dance has always been her passion, so the first product – Dance With Madhuri, came about with the idea to teach dance in a fun and social way and create a global village for culture. Within three months, they created the infrastructure online, outsourced everything with just three in-house employees. And when they finally launched in February 2013, they realised there was a huge need – their servers crashed on the first day of launch. “Within a year, we had six million page views and 200,000 users,” said Dr Nene.

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So, they reworked the architecture while being live and relaunched in 2015. They also moved from their sponsorship and advertisement model alone and partnered with DTH subscribers to create a linear video channel. “We then got 100,000 paid subscribers and turned profitable. Half our users were from India, while the rest were global,” he said.

But cut to 2020, and their business has grown five times. And now, they are exploring more avenues. “We are looking at introducing acting, scriptwriting, gourmet cooking, music, and more,” said Dixit-Nene.

As lockdown began, the choreography schools shut down as well. Dance With Madhuri reached out to choreographers behind the schools to build their classes on its platform. “We have now also launched live classes where users can learn and be critiqued online as well,” said Dr Nene.

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As they expand, they are also looking to raise funds. “Dance With Madhuri has been self- sustaining and could grow organically but seeing the potential, we are looking at strategic partners and funding to expand it further,” he said.

‘As a little girl, never imagined dance would be online’

But had the dance icon ever imagined the art being taught this way? “Maybe when I was little, I never imagined one can learn dance from a screen. But even on the reality shows where I have been a judge, I used to ask the contestants, where did you learn, and they would answer – the Internet. That just reaffirmed my faith in this idea,” she said.

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Over the years, Dance With Madhuri has become a way for her fans to interact with her too. “People love me for my dance, even on social media I always get questions like, we want to know how you do those expressions. For them, it's great that not just me, but many other big names are on the platform and they have access to all these dance gurus that I personally like as well,” said the actress.

In the next five years, she hopes to offer certification courses through the school as well.

Up next: A holistic healthtech venture

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Dr Nene, who has worked as a cardiovascular surgeon in the US, has been working on a healthtech startup in stealth mode and is now looking to launch it soon. “What we are trying to build is a holistic, personalised healthcare offering across media, tech and smart services. What people need is a trusted source which is aligned to their health needs from cradle to grave,” shared Dr Nene.

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