Journey from garage to Rs.100 crore venture: Unicel Technologies’s story
After a successful stint at telecom major Aircel, Vinay Agrrawal decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge with Unicel Technologies. Unicel Technologies offers cloud communication solutions across channels like SMS, voice, USSD, including email.
Vinay started Unicel in 2003 with another co-founder in a garage. “But he quit in 2004, and from then on it was a solo journey for some time. We’re fortunate to have employees with an entrepreneurial mindset who have turned part owners over the last years,” says Vinay.
The startup started its maiden project with erstwhile Hutch in Chennai. However, it was followed by a tough period of two years, which was both mentally and physically exhausting for Vinay. “After Hutch, the first big break came with Airtel in Karnataka, which agreed to host our platform to service enterprises. Once the entire machinery and processes were set in place, there was no looking back,” adds Vinay.
Vinay is the alumnus of Symbiosis, Pune, and started his career bang in the middle of the telecom boom in India. Having worked with a telecom operator, Vinay has an in-depth experience of multiple functions in the wireless space — from technology and billing, to value-added services and customer experience.
Unicel provides tailor-made customized solutions specific to different enterprise requirements like Virtual Number Service (VNS), mobile banking, bulk push SMS, general HR communication, media integration, sales force automation, supply chain and fleet management among others.
Besides the above, it also offers a host of products and services in messaging, LBS and content delivery arena.
The startup services over 1,000 enterprises across various verticals, including the BFSI, IT, government, retail, manufacturing and distribution, and media among others. Its clientele base includes bigwigs like Accenture, IBM, New York Maxlife, Infosys and Wipro.
Challenges on the way
“We faced quite a few challenges like the ban on SMS during the time of the Babri Masjid verdict. We were not able to deliver SMS for 7 days and that was very challenging for a company which thrives on SMS based products,” says Vinay.
The introduction of the NCPR Guideline from TRAI was a big blow for the venture. “They did not recognize us as an industry. We were an aggregator with 1000 plus customers and NCPR guidelines required aggregators to have full proof processes, technology and systems in place. The fines for violating these rules ran into lakhs and led to blacklisting for up to three years which was even more serious,” reveals Vinay.
Almost 70% of its market was wiped out due to the rise in prices and structure. It was the biggest challenge faced by the industry so far. However, Unicel Technologies was able to come out of it even stronger.
Unicel Technologies had posted a turnover of Rs.100 crore in the last fiscal, and plans to achieve growth across levels, with a turnover estimation of Rs. 150 crores by 2015. The company will be expanding its present capacity to 100,000 transactions per second.
The company also aims to achieve 20-25% revenue from VoIP / e-mail services. At present, SMS contributes around 95% of Unicel’s revenue.
Website: Unicel Technologies