Arbit: We were great comic fans since childhood, and hooked up during our MBA because of this common interest. Together we realised that there was no comic character that highlighted the suppressed humour in the apparently serious world of management. Though Dilbert was known for his office humour, Calvin for his cynical outlook and Archie for college humour, there was no comic character who peeped into the comically jargonistic world of business.
We decided to introduce the world to a new genre of Comic Humour, namely Management Humour, realising that there was a latent demand in this segment, which was not only un-served but also un-recognized.
Thus was born, Arbit Choudhury, the MBA Comic Character (http://www.arbitmba.com/ ).
While the concept of Arbit Choudhury was growing, another concept was conceptualized by us - "MastishK (http://www.mastishk.nitie.net/ ) - India's first fully Online Business Simulation Gaming Event". As we went ahead with conceptualization of MastishK, we realized that the target audience for both the ideas was the same and we decided to put Arbit's flavour of Humour to good use as a mascot for MastishK. This way Arbit Choudhury was also able to reach out to an audience spread across the globe in more than 25 countries, 70+ B Schools and 50+ corporate offices instantly.
Soon, we started getting huge amounts of fan mail and realised that Arbit Choudhury's appeal lay far beyond the world of management students. So we decided to bring Arbit to the world by creating a mailing list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arbit_mba ) wherein we sent Arbit Comics to our 'fan club' every fortnight. We have added the website (http://www.arbitmba.com/ ) and other channels of distribution like SMS and RSS to our basket subsequently.
Blogomania: How did you come up with this interesting name for this character? Is this character based on someone?
Arbit: We had many names in mind when we set out to name Arbit Choudhury. We always knew we were going to name him some ‘Choudhury’ not just because it was the surname of one of the creators but also because Choudhury was a perfect name for the ‘boy next door’ type of image which we wanted to make Arbit.
However, the first name proved to be quite a challenge. We had some names in our minds, and got some more from few friends whom we had introduced the initial idea. Finally, there was a tough tussle between couple of names and we ended up conducting a mini poll between some of our friends to decide upon the final name. Needless to say, “Arbit” got the maximum votes.
However, we must point out that though Arbit Choudhury has inherited his surname and a few characteristics from his creators, he is not completely based on any one particular person. Arbit Choudhury’s character sketch is a mixture of idiosyncrasies noticed by the creators in several real life characters/people.
Blogomania: What is your mission and vision for Arbit? In these 3 years of operation, have they changed?
Arbit: Our Vision
- To make Arbit Choudhury one of the most popular comic characters of all times.
- To make Arbit Choudhury a truly international icon for the management and professional fraternity across nationalities and geographies
- To make Arbit Choudhury one of the world's most circulated comic characters
- To increase the reach of Arbit Humour to all major corporate offices and B Schools in India, and subsequently to the corporate offices and B Schools across the globe, through Online as well as Offline mediums.
Arbit Choudhury’s Vision and Mission is still the same and we do not see it changing much over the years.
Over the past 3 years, we have moved forward significantly towards our visions and mission. Arbit Choudhury fans today belong to the cross-section of the corporate community, from Consulting Majors like Mckinsey, to PSUs like BHEL, from CEOs and MDs, to young professionals and MBA students. Arbit Choudhury Comic Strips have even been appreciated by management professors and housewives. His fans come from as far and wide as US, UK, Cyprus, Oman and Korea. The Arbit Choudhury Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arbit_mba ) is one of the largest yahoo groups in the “Comic Strips” category.
Apart from this, Arbit Choudhury has grabbed numerous media mentions in leading publications like Times of India, Indian Express and Business World, as well has been recognized as the “World’s 1st” MBA Comic Character. Our concept has also been appreciated by international experts from the creative sector.
In spite of all these achievements, we do realize that we have a long way to go yet, towards achieving our vision and mission.
Blogomania : Tell us something on how do you come up with these extremely funny ideas for Arbit? Who are the team members?
Arbit: We derive inspiration from multiple sources like national and international politics, general current affairs, management concepts that we have learnt during MBA etc. Any event happening around us can spark off an idea. All 3 of us are Consultants in different firms and our daily grind presents some very interesting situations which also give us ideas for comic strips. We are always open to ideas and suggestions from Arbit fans and have held “Arbit Choudhury Fresh Ideas Contest” in the past 2 years.
We realize that humor is a very personal taste, and every idea might not appear humorous to everyone. So we run all our comic strip ideas through an internal process called the “Comic Strip Suitability Scale (CS3)”. The ideas that pass through the CS3 are then subjected to a review by our Panel for Idea Evaluation (PIE) consisting of people from diverse backgrounds. The overall rating of PIE along with the ratings by the creator Trio decides the fate of the idea. The best rated ideas are then converted into comic strips and the others are either reworked, or scrapped completely.
The Arbit Choudhury Team consists of Shubham Choudhury, Hemantkumar Jain and Nikhil Kulkarni. While Shubham and Hemant are the creators or Arbit Choudhury comic strips, Nikhil works closely with them in managing the marketing and technology facets of the endeavor. As our professional commitments make us work from different geographies at different points of time, we have also devised our own form of Global Delivery Model for the creation of new comic strips. Over the last 3 years, Arbit Choudhury comic strips have been created across 3 continents, 5 countries and 9 cities !!
Blogomania: Is Arbit the Indian Dilbert?
Arbit: We are frequently asked this question by Arbit Choudhury fans and the media. We have always maintained that Arbit Choudhury is not an Indian Dilbert.
While Arbit Choudhury and Dilbert might have overlapping audiences to some extent, the essence of the humour is different. Dilbert is a professional, Arbit Choudhury is a student. While Dilbert takes a humorous dig at life in a typical office environment, Arbit Choudhury looks at the funny side of business, current affairs and life at a b-school.
Considering this, the scope of Arbit’s humour is much wider and deeper than Dilbert. We believe that Arbit Choudhury‘s appeal is not limited to Indian readers only, and Arbit is the 1st Indian comic character with the potential to become globally popular.
Blogomania: What can we expect from Arbit in the near future? Will you continue distributing it through group mails or will we be able to see Arbit in newspapers?
Arbit: Arbit Choudhury owes it’s current popularity to the world wide web. Ever since it’s inception, Arbit Choudhury comic strips have reached out to fans across the world through online means like e-mail forwards, our website (http://www.arbitmba.com/ ) , our mailing list (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arbit_mba ), RSS feeds and SMS jokes. While we will continue to serve our fans through online media, we are earnestly looking forward to offline modes as well. We are looking to get Arbit Choudhury comic strips published in newspapers and other periodicals.
The future will see Arbit appearing in multiple online and offline publications. Publishing a book on Arbit and Management is just a matter of our ability to devote time to it along with our professional commitments. Arbit merchandise might find its way onto the desks of MBA aspirants, B Schoolers and even corporate cubicles.
Blogomania: Finally, any message for Arbit fans? And give the Blogomania readers, who are not your subsribers, a reason to enroll asap!
Arbit: We would like to thank Arbit Choudhury fans across the world for the love and encouragement they have given us over the last 3 years. We request are fans share Arbit Choudhury Comic Strips with all their friends and colleagues, and also to keep sending us their thoughts and feedback.
We promise to keep bringing fresh Arbit humor to everyone in the future as well.