An afterthought 25 years later: ‘Oh what a journey!’ & ‘WTF was I thinking’

What is an experience, if not unforgettable? And when I say ‘unforgettable’ I don’t simply mean the sheer magnitude and size. To me, an unforgettable experience means so much more. They are experiences that are powerful, evoke emotions, shape opinions and make things happen. And it is the very motivation to deliver these experiences that has inspired and driven me to finally start out on my long pending journey in the world of blogging.

I want to highlight the importance of creating experiences that impact, not just businesses, but touch lives along the way. Experiences that live on in our minds even years after they are executed. My travels over the years and my participation in many global properties form the basis of some of some key insights I’ve absorbed, certain key observations I’ve gleaned, lessons I’ve learned and pretty much anything that blows me away. I want to interact, absorb and exchange valuable insights, trends and takeaways of experiences that make this space tick.

Today all events are hopping onto the digital bandwagon. Integrating across all platforms to provide that holistic edge that turns it into a lasting experience. From my point of view, it’s these digital aspects that take these experiences to the next level and give it that X factor resulting in a truly Digitalized India. I mean Thank God for Whatsapp! Me and my wife now sort our ‘I said you said’ squabbles in minutes on Whatsapp, saving the dramatic confrontation and the impending anxiety till the Mrs. finally decides she can let the matter rest. A few angry emoticons, a rushed exchange of words and a few doe eyed sorry smileys and yeah baby we’re back in business!

Being in the business of creating experiences, the past 25 years has taught me so much. A journey nothing short of a Broadway production. The disciplinarian father who wanted his son to prove his mettle, the drive, the determination, the grind, the drama, the hard work, the beautiful woman and now my eternal partner in crime, Shital, and then the quest to conquer. Yup my very own claim to fame story. A whirlwind indeed! Way back in the day in 1990, when I started out as a stagehand to the Sultan of set design and the industry’s pioneer, Rehmatali Tobaccowala, my father, little did I ever imagine I would be orchestrating some of the industry’s defining moments.

The first memory, very close to my heart, is the Liril event we did in 1990 – my first big break in this space. Other milestones included enabling Coca-Cola’s return to India in 1993 and Tata IBM’s first appearance into India. The mid 90’s saw us enter the automotive space with the big launch of the Tata Indica. Come 1997 and I was named CEO and took charge of the reigns and along with me Shobiz got its three pillars of strength in the form of Tejpal, Rajesh and Subir who came on board as trainees. From being colleagues to becoming great friends, the Shobiz journey would not have been possible without them. The new millennium saw us produce our first international world tour in 22 international cities across Asia, Africa and the Middle East for a renowned IT firm. 2004 too was a lucky year for us as we spearheaded ‘The Century of Trust’ campaign for the Tata Group, as well as conducted the first ever SAP TechEd an event we produced for 10 consecutive years after that. And believe me I was so damn proud of how far the industry has come when the world applauded Shobiz with a global award – the Exhibitor’s Corporate Event Award for the Tata Nano Superdrive in 2011.


From being one of the country’s leading production houses, to the transition into one of the country’s first experiential communications agency, I feel blessed to have made it from sweating it out at the carpentry workshop to the man behind the wheel today. How time has flown! And yet ironically deep down inside, I’m still that long haired 18 year old boy on a quest to fill this industry with impactful out of the world experiences. I want the Indian experiential space to be able to churn out the kind of stuff only dreams are made of.

Every day, for the rest of my life I want to wake up with the same fire in my belly. To create experiences that impact in the space I refer to as my home turf. E-narrating these blogs, travelling the world and hitting the perfect Tee shot in the many golf courses around the world that I’ve dreamed of playing on.

The industry is making major advancements with the next level experiences its creating all around. After all, events are the experience you take home with you. It should awe you, shock you, inspire you and impact……And it will. Sooner than you think!

Sameer Tobaccowala

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