When Raju Penmatcha entered Wharton’s EMBA program, he was intending to apply his new business education to growing his software business, SmartWorks. With an engineering background, he wanted to fill in knowledge gaps in areas like marketing and maybe even meet potential business partners.
While he’s currently fulfilling those goals in the EMBA program, he’s also finding the courses applicable to his other profession: movie making. His most recent project is the Bollywood film
“Love, Lies & Seeta” for which he was executive producer, but he’s been working in the film industry for
several years and has written, directed and produced the short films “Mohan and Maya” and “Occasional Smoker.”
Raju explains, “The challenges involved in small business and movie making are very similar so the business skills I’m developing in school are helpful for both areas. They are like a roller coaster ride because you start with an idea and don’t know if it will work or not. Things don’t always go as you planned, surprises come up once you start implementing your ideas, and you need to make new decisions almost every day. Having a good team makes a huge difference.”
He says the entrepreneurial environment at Wharton has been a great match for his interests in startups and movie making. “I haven’t taken advantage of all the programs here yet because I’ve been focused on my core courses, but there are a lot of resources, programs and electives here for entrepreneurs.”
Raju, who recently sold SmartWorks and launched SRP, is also hoping to use the Wharton network to grow his team or possibly even launch another new business during his second year at Wharton. “There are some brilliant people with extraordinary skills in my class who I could not have accessed without coming here,” he says, noting that Wharton’s culture encourages students to work with different groups each semester so that you get to know more people and their perspectives.
As for his movie, Raju says it was released in May. “We didn’t have big stars or a famous director, but we did pretty well. Right now, we’re working to get it released on DVD to Netflix and other channels.”
He notes that he was able to leverage research by Prof. Jehoshua Eliashberg about marketing films. “He has some very interesting models for segmenting the market and spending your marketing dollars in the right way so that you get the most bang for your buck.”
Raju adds that his classmates have been very supportive of the film. “Their kindness has overwhelmed me. When it was released, they wanted a screening at Wharton!”