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Lockdown Flashbacks : Part of a revolution

At my first job, I closely observed the shift in dynamics, when the big fish enters the pond. The Ed-Tech company I worked for was funded by the investment mammoth Infoedge and I was part of the friction caused. It pushed me to decide to further study the art of how business runs.

Quite bedazzled by the likes of Shradha Sharma - Yourstory, Vijay Shekhar Sharma - Paytm, Dinesh Agarwal - IndiaMart, I chose not to sit for placements in MBA. All this while, I was already closely working for Deepinder Goyal’s then infant startup called Foodiebay, which also later got funded by Infoedge to become the mighty Zomato.

I chose to join a startup after the B-School.

My straight forward KPI was to make Mobiesta, the flagship app of the company into a killer app and get an investor.

Mobiesta, a Mobile Application, provided localized information to users across nine exciting categories. It ran through GPRS and was compatible with all then available platforms mobile platforms namely, Android, Blackberry, Symbian Qt, JAVA/J2ME and iPhone. The application updated users about the happenings and the events in the city on a single button click. The simple user interface was text based and highly economical back then when data was a luxury.

Our efforts in marketing gradually helped us get noticed. We ticked every single point in our checklist after endless brain-mapping sessions. We received a positive sentiment from the stakeholders. Cash flow started to churn in. The team grew bigger and the app got stronger.

To get visibility in the tech ecosystem we fought for a place in the very limited competitions and won some biggies. Among them was a recognition from Qualcomm which opened a lot of doors for us.

Some of the prominent media that covered the mobile, telecom and lifestyle acknowledged us well.

  • Yourstory – For recognition among the startups

  • India Infoline – For the love of investors

  • Economic Times – For credibility and be regarded among successful apps

  • NDTV Cell Guru – Blessings from Rajiv Makhni

  • The Mobile Indian – The popular Telecom magazine in 2010

  • Zee Business – For the investors and local advertisers

  • News 24 – For the masses and students at Delhi colleges

Pioneer – For it was convenient

This flagship project of ours was ahead of its time, and not a desirable success. This was 2010. GPS, GPRS and localisation were not evolved. Phones didn't have internet. Feature phones held a larger majority than smartphones. Getting a user to download an app was more expensive than INR 250 per download. The early adopters were all we had and the curve didn’t climb. We however, had a lot of support from Nokia, Google Playstore, Blackberry – BB Appworld and Apple store. I will not be able to thank them enough for the support they gave us to get our app bug free, uploaded and, promoted. Blackberry promoted us for more than a month as a featured app for free. We'll always be grateful to their support.

For 12 months we met several VCs, investors from Sequoia, to Canaan Partners, Indian Angel Network to Nexus Ventures, to Saif Partners. They understood our business and vision but our audience wasn't ready. Our business model didn’t have an immediate ROI.

2 years later internet was in every phone, Smartphones got cheaper and revolutionised the world. The early version of BookMyShow became an app. MVAS soon got a new definition and purpose. Payment gateway was catching up. One97 morphed to Paytm and a revolution in Indian Telecom took a giant transformation.

My takeaway is, that we were a part of a revolution that started as telecom but eventually became India’s Digital and FinTech rising. We were there to witness and contribute to the evolution taking place. Of course, it would have been amazing to achieve our goals, but I am so happy that in here, the journey itself was the reward.


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