This is the second and final part of the interview with Bhasker Kode, co-founder, Hover.in. Click here to read the earlier post.
As an entrepreneur, what are your joys? What are the challenges?
'Creating something out of nothing' has been an evergreen mantra for both magicians & entrepreneurs, including myself. I don't know if it was a personal trait, but I think the happiest days among those when there was clarity of thought that starts to make you wonder why you didn't think about it earlier.
Like Mike Maples Jr. reckons, figuring out a scalable business model is 'the only job a startup should do, and the easiest to ignore.’ But in retrospect, I don't think we would have appreciated it without the unpleasant experiences either. And coming out of those puts you on a higher immunity plane.
On a technical standpoint, I'm proud to say that our notion of scaling was actually reducing resources required to do X, rather than adding more servers. In fact, whenever we grew exponentially there has most likely been a drastic cut in either resources or time required to do X. I strongly believe that not having too much capital to spend at various periods means you can either automate lot of things or you can hire. And we chose the former.
At the same time, I think any founder has to do absolutely everything at least once within the company before hiring someone for the same task. It's certainly not a myth that passionate entrepreneurs will do whatever it takes without thinking twice. I would go as far as to say that most entrepreneurs like to delegate too early. I'm glad I didn't have the choice, because that's the most humbling crash-course an entrepreneur can get. And he/she can’t buy these lessons.
How big is the Hover team? Are you looking at hiring?
We usually identify exactly who we want to hire in advance. Everyone in the industry is watched. So it's only a matter of time or incentive.
As for Hover, we've never had more than 4-5 developers at any point of time. They've always been a great bunch of interns and we've been fans of co-working throughout - sharing Wifi, electricity, rents, etc. with other startups.
Again, it’s not like we had a choice. The roles, work, locations have been very distributed and opportunistic. It's nice to have a employee: revenue ratio of '1: couple of lakhs' and I suggest that every entrepreneur try it at least once before their full-scale launch.
Give us some stats about Hover that we ought to know.
We've reached a point where we find context in 95% of all pages - 3-5 seconds after is it published. The publisher can decide how many words/elements to highlight on a page based on their monetization/tolerance appetite. One in every three page views engage in a hover on a daily basis and 25% of all hovers are monetizing.
There are indications of 1 hover happening on every two page views on some portals which is promising. Frequency capping is next on our agenda to help our CPM campaigns add more value.
We add contextual content/ads in 5 different languages and showing related articles has not only increased time spent, but also accounted for nearly 1% of all referral traffic for those portals in some markets.
We've tried to focus and deep dive into educational portals in the same fashion that Facebook 'came, saw & conquered a campus'. We wanted to understand the space completely before moving on to another vertical. So, with the 40+ large educational portals aboard, we're just getting started and should be adding several multiples soon.
But nothing is as exciting as helping marketers and startups reach out to prospective users. We at Hover are glad to be part of that process.
Where do you see in-text advertising and Hover five years from now?
We've always been a big believer in the untapped multi-lingual content world. In three years time, we want to be the largest source of revenue for multi-lingual content in India, apart from clocking multiple-crore revenues every month. This is something that we seek to achieve not just from multi-lingual content in India - but from across the world.
Brand marketing and lead generation are at two different ends of the spectrum right now and we're glad to be in a position to address what the market needs and more importantly, give our portals in India a significant supplementary revenue stream that need not be a zero-sum game with respect to monetization.
That's because we're not interested in taking the reader out of the portal. We're quite happy in delivering contextual content and let them continue browsing when they're done with it. In fact, we’ve increased the time spent. I think five years from now - metrics like engagement, time spent, brand recall, social reach, and effectiveness would hopefully reach a more quantifiable stage, placing Hover rather nicely.
We at YourStory wish the entire team at Hover.in all the best. To know more about this exciting startup, please visit www.hover.in. You can also find them on Twitter (@hoverin) or check out their blog for developers - http://developers.hover.in
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 29th October 2010 | Bangalore
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