NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Startup 26: Sanjay Vijayakumar, MobME

25th Apr 2010
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Sanjay Vijayakumar belongs to the new breed of Indian youth who are unheard but fearless. Starting an entrepreneurial journey at the age of 22 while in fifth semester of engineering, Sanjay led and created a team of engineering graduates

who were passionate about technology to build up MobME, one of India’s most exciting and innovative mobile companies.

MobME raised half a million dollars from angel investors based out of Dubai and Silicon Valley including the ex-GM and VP of Nortel. Defying convention in India, Sanjay dropped out in final semester and turning down jobs at MS and Yahoo to scale up MobME, building a team of 60 spread across offices in Trivandrum, Cochin, Mumbai, and Delhi.

MobME has a slew of innovative products ranging from sms to voice to a media factory churning out mobile content. The company is focused on developing its mobile content sharing platform christened Mobshare, which is the leading and preferred platform by leading mobile operators, media companies, and marketing

agencies for mobile community, photo and video sharing solutions powering Airtel, Vodafone, BSNL, and MTNL.

In 2006, the company was rated as one of India’s 100 Innovative Startups by NASSCOM and in 2007 was the youngest of the NASSCOM 100 IT Innovators alongside TI, HP, and Infosys. MobME was also amongst the Wall Street Journal 10 Startups to watch for in India in 2008 and was voted winner by NASSCOM as India’s Most Innovative Company for 2009. MobME is today rated amongst the 50 Emerging IT Companies in India.

Sanjay is a regular speaker at national and international conferences including the 3rd 3G International Conference and the Web Innovation 2.0 and is amongst the Board of Governors of Technopark Technology Business Incubator and the World HR Forum. He is currently setting up the Indian Telecom Innovation Hub at Cochin including a telecom focused technology business incubator along with the Department of Science and Technology, GoI in Cochin, Kerala. Sanjay is also selected for the Star Entrepreneurship Award at the 3rd International India Innovation Summit 2010.

Mobme

A national and university basketball player, Sanjay has led the college team to various tournaments and played professional basketball in Kerala before being bit by the entrepreneur bug. He now dreams of the day when the sun sets in the Valley at dusk, it would rise to see the dawn of a Silicon Coast in India.MobME Wireless is one of India's most innovative technology companies in the telecom vertical. The company provides value added services, core network solutions and enterprise solutions to telecom operators, enterprises and government organizations. Innovation has been in the DNA of this young and exciting company. MobME has been voted as the best ICT startup by ISBA.

Sanjay did something unexpected. He saw opportunities while in college and founded a business just out of passion. On top of it, he has achieved success. We are eager to know his entrepreneurial viewpoint that he puts across to Indian startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM.

1. Why did you take up entrepreneurship journey?

Sanjay: The co-founders of MobME Wireless were from similar backgrounds in Kerala. Coming from middle class families, education and employment were the most sought after social parameters. The team found each other while doing a marketing activity for a mobile operator in 2005, which sparked the differnt strengths.

The urge to do something different was the primary driving force behind treading the entreprenuer route.

2.        What keeps you going (how and where do you find your motivation levels)?

Sanjay: Our mentors are our guides and we continously interact with senior people in the industry. It is very important to carry a very positive frame of mind as well.

3.        What is your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs in India?

Sanjay: It’s never too late and it’s never too early for striking out as an entrepreneur. All that you need is the fire in your belly, the guts to make a decision, and the courage to face the consequences of your decisions. The team that is MobME is just like anyone of you. We belong to normal middle class families and have nothing out of the world in us. We live in this amazing country and opportunities are endless here for all of us. When we dreamed of starting a company, the entire society right from Mammotty to Kris Gopalakrishnan was there to extend their support to us.

There are many people out there who will support any young entrepreneur and together it is possible to dream of a day when the sun sets at dusk in the valley, it will rise to see the dawn of a silicon coast in India. The opportunity is out there. Grab it, Seize it! Be an Entrepreneur!

4.        What success means to you and your organization?

Sanjay: Success to us means to be able to create a change in the lives of others. Today when we are able to support a few bright yound minds with educational scholarships from the very same college we graduated from, it gives a great sense of pride and joy.

In the next few years, we hope to have an IPO, which would be one of the strong milestones and something that would be a success for us.

5.        What are your learnings from the failures?

Sanjay: Being an entrepreneur is great as the real life learning never stops. Everyday we face challenges and the fact that over the last four years, we have been successfully able to overcome these challenges give us confidence to make the next big moves.

We have learnt to keep failures behind us as if we are not failing, we may not be trying hard enough.

Sanjay is a daring entrepreneur. Being able to start a company while in college needs “fire in your belly … and courage to face the consequences of your decisions” in his own words. Maybe he is the harbinger of the entrepreneurial revolution in India where college grads get bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.


As part of the Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM, 25 entrepreneurs have shared their views. To know what they are, please visit the links given below.

1. Kishore Mandyam of PK4 Software

2. Anil Pagar of Spadeworx

3. Ajay Sharma of Shristi Software

4. Pallav Nadhani of InfoSoft Global (FusionCharts)

5. Manoj Srivatsava of Hanu Software

6. Sriram Raghavan of Comat

7. Sushil Chaudary of Mann-India

8. Manav Garg of Eka

9. R. Swaminathan of Matrix Business Solution

10. Suresh Sambandam of OrangeScape

11. Ajay Mian of Alletech

12. Prasad Guntupalli of Attra

13. Varun Khurana of Wirkle

14. Anil Kaul of AbsolutData

15. Amit Sadana of PharmARC

16. Yadu and Naresh or Robust Designs

17. Ananth Seshan of Fifth Generation

18. Shoma Bakre of EmPower Research

19. Raj Hajela of Estel

20. Sanjay Shah of Skelta

21. Prakash Rane of ABM

22. Rohit Singal of Sourcebits

23. Vishal Borker of NextBiT

24. Srish Agrawal of A1 Future

25. Bijal Mehta of Arctern

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave, Chennai, April 30, 2010

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT conclave comes to Chennai on 30 April 2010. With “Nurturing the IT DNA in India’s growth sectors” as its theme, the conclave focuses on sectors that hold relevance to Chennai such as the automotive sector, in addition to opportunities that exist in the UID space, and workshops on marketing, product design, and many others.

Updates

The Chair of the EMERGEOUT Forum, Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan, has provided the highlights of the EMERGEOUT Conclave in addition to details about EMERGE Forum and its activities. Please visit http://bit.ly/ckRFhI to read his interview to YourStory.

Vijay Anand, program chair of NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave, has spoken to YourStory on the various sessions in the Conclave. He has also given his views on entrepreneurship sometime back. We will bring both of them to you.

Phanindra Sama, CEO, RedBus.in, is going to be in a panel discussion on SaaS offerings (IT & SME – Is SAAS Finally Bridging the Gap?). We will feature a conversation with him soon. Phani found an opportunity in the bus ticketing space and has scaled RedBus phenomenally in three years. His success is an indication of opportunities that the domestic market presents..

Keynote address

Mr. Bharat Goenka, founder, Tally Software is the keynote speaker. It is a no-brainer right now that if you walk to anyone and ask them to cite you an example of an Indian product, Tally ranks among the top list, and it has been that way for a while. Mr. Goenka is without doubt one of the most prolific icons of the Indian product software industry. Talk to him about product positioning, understanding user behaviour, pricing, marketing and building a brand that is as big as Microsoft in terms of training and development centers, and you are sure to walk away in awe. Would you miss hearing him?

Valedictory session

To wrap up the conclave, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant, is going to engage in rather inquisitive conversation with Prasanto Roy from CyberMedia. He has been a technology industry leader for over 30 years. As a founding member of Cognizant, he was been responsible for the company’s high-touch customer relationship and delivery excellence model. Under his leadership, Cognizant became the youngest IT services company to reach the $1 billion revenue milestone. He is also the part of NASSCOM Chairmen Council and under his leadership, some new initiatives in the EMERGE Forum were started.

Speaker list and program schedule

To find the speaker list, please visit http://bit.ly/dvMYqq.

The complete program agenda is available: http://bit.ly/9on2ci An impressive lineup of programs awaits participants.

Interesting speakers and some sessions of interest

Jessie Paul, MD, Paul Writer Strategic Services, author of No Money Marketing, and formerly Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro, is holding a workshop on “Frugal Marketing—What Works, What's Trendy, What's Hype.” Besides great product or service and innovation, marketing right is crucial to build a brand. Jessie is going to demystify the art of brand building using a frugal budget. Visit her blog post at the EMERGE blog http://bit.ly/ahqdqO for details.

Kiruba Shankar, CEO, Business Blogging, is holding an “unconference” at the conclave.

The e-governance projects like the Unique ID Scheme of the government present huge opportunities for SMEs. One of the sessions at the conclave will explore this opportunity.

Register for the conference here

Don’t miss all the action! Join the bandwagon of the emerging opportunities in India!!

Please register for the conference here.

Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist, YourStory

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