Jatin Ahluwalia, Founder, vRock Mobile, unique platform for mobile entertainment among youth through mobile Cricket

10th Jan 2011
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Jatin

The age of 3G mobile tech has finally dawned upon India… In the ensuing scramble to capitalize and innovate mobile technology many companies have made creative bids but only one “Rocks”. Jatin Alhuwalia is the founder of vRock Mobile who has put two and two together to come up with his rocking business idea. Possessing exclusive mobile rights for the IPL and the Asian Cricket Cup has further strengtehened their grip upon their audience in a cricker crazy Nation.YourStory got Jatin to spill the beans on how he has brought vRock Mobile this far and what he plans to do next in an exclusive interview.

What is the business idea behind your company vRock Mobile?

vRock Mobile, founded by Jatin, is a team of visionary professionals and leaders who have vast experience in the areas of mobile telephony & services. The focus on the mobile value added services space is poised with investments in Content and Content Related Technology Platforms. vRock Mobile provides a unique platform for mobile entertainment among youth through mobile Cricket (mCricket), mBollywood (including mobile Music).

Collectively, vRock Mobile managing partners have over 50 years of experience in creating new business models, technology, mobility and building brands and businesses. vRock Mobile’s goal is to invest in mobile & media properties and companies which can benefit from our extensive strategic, financial and operational experience and a very strong industry network. Headquartered in Gurgaon, vRock Mobile’s investment thesis outlines that the highly fragmented Mobile-VAS industry is well positioned to continue experiencing strong growth both on Content and Technology Platforms and there are significant growth opportunities from organic initiatives and additional acquisition opportunities.

Jatin

What do you think is the future for mobile services with 3G making its entry in India?

vRock Mobile provides mobile value added services across the sports and entertainment genre, thus encompassing the critical mass of over 700 million mobile subscribers in India. India is a country where the population of youth is much more as compared to other nations and we realised that the Mobile entertainment industry is growing at a very fast pace among them. Mobile Cricket (mCricket), mBollywood (including Music) is driving the growth trend in mobile entertainment among today’s youth. Further with the advent of 3G services and technology increasingly changing, it is again youth who will be the major consumer of more innovative services especially between the age group of 18 and 25 years.

Cricket and Bollywood are considered a religion in India. Updates on scores etc is gradually moving to the next level with innovative services like video clips of exciting moments in a cricket match etc. Cricket 24X7 while on the go gives a dose of enthusiasm. Additionally, services like voice blogs have huge takers as everyone wants to interact with players or celebrities. All of these and more are enablers of building a huge engagement with mobile consumers on one hand while extending a platform for digital media to engage their consumers.

Telecom Service Providers (TSP’s) are also witnessing a very high demand for these services and especially youths are their main consumers. Sporting events like IPL have created new windows for the whole VAS ecosystem to provide the entertainment services at its best. From TSP’s to content providers and finally the subscribers all get benefitted.. Not only this but the TSP’s acceptance of copyright content will empower everyone as the content will be authentic and benefit the whole VAS ecosystem and consumer at large.

What are the steps you have taken to ensure that vRock Mobile, stays fresh and unique in the market?

IPR / copy right protected contents / properties, which get packaged uniquely across multiple technology platforms such as voice/ messaging / mobile internet and video for monetization. We have adopted a unique business model which involves monetization through revenue share with telco and over a period of medium to long term extends to address consumers directly as well as telco – One-to-many millions consumers business model.

We believe our biggest differentiator is our focus group. We target the youth between the age group of 18 – 25 years, who are in constant search for new modes of entertainment. If they get it handy on their mobile phone with connections to their favorite celebrities they will definitely like and subscribe to the services. This will also bridge the gap between the fans and celebrities and would enable the fans to follow their hot favorites in a more attached way.

Keeping this in mind, we realized cricket and Bollywood is a religion in India, and started off with IPL T20 SMS Rights for 5 years. The option of having score alerts etc on the go was a big thing with the youngsters. Further our USP was we were giving the authentic alerts to the subscribers as we had the mobile rights.  The IPL SMS T20 rights includes Live Score Alerts, SMS Contest – Premium Rates, IVR – Live Radio commentary, SMS subscriptions for news, gossip, statistics etc. vRock Mobile has also bagged the mobile rights for the “Asia Cup Cricket Tournament” till 2014 as an exclusive partner. Here we brought in new offerings. The Asia Cup rights include Score Alert, Live Video Streaming, Video Clips, IVR with English commentary.

We constantly focus on bringing in new and innovative services. We have introduced voice blogs where fans can directly interact with their favorite celebrity, no matter in which part of the world they are. We realised that cricketers are now so busy with tournaments that they do not get the time to interact with the fans. We jumped on this concept of voice blog and brought in some players like Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan Singh can say whatever he wants to convey to his fans. This is posted as a voice blog and fans can log in by dialing in a number and listen to Harbhajan’s post and also ask him questions. We have also included many Bollywood stars in voice blogs. The youth who always strive to interact with their favorite stars can now be connected and feel attached as well.

How will you bring newer and innovative services to increase your business horizons?

We plan to expand our horizon and bring richer and newer contents like other sporting genre beyond cricket, rock music etc and also planning to bring in other new excitements such as viral communications and digital platform including mobile social networks. Our focus will concentrate on services, which fit into the intersection of youth and mobile with entertainment and sports. Besides we are mapping business opportunities in the overseas segment, especially in the emerging African continent.

This is how we plan to scale up business and there are also some deals in the pipeline which will further boost the business.

How did you evolve from an employee to an entrepreneur with a business idea?

Being an entrepreneur is a dream of many people but realizing one’s dream is what kept me motivated to become an entrepreneur. I have worked across varied levels and industries and at one point realized that the time has come to do something of my own. Chasing my dream and what I like doing the most… I finalised on this concept of providing mobile entertainment and connecting the whole value chain to provide rich and authentic mobile experiences to the final subscriber. I discussed this with two of my friends, now colleagues, and we all ventured into this. Moving out from a regular 9-to-5 job was a big challenge, but I realized the importance of facing challenges and taking risks to move to a new platform.  Further, the thrills of entrepreneurship and being your own boss gives constant motivation.


What has been the biggest challenge for you so far, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge for me was to keep myself motivated to start my own venture and maintain the conviction of my ‘business idea’. Shifting from a stable life to an unstable scenario where nobody is sure of what and how things will shape up was my fear. But with the blessing and support of my friends and family and of course the hard work of my team, it turned out to be a great decision. It’s not me any more, my whole team believes in the idea.

How did you raise the seed capital for your company?

It would be two angels – Ramesh Awtaney and Vivek Gupta, who showed confidence in me and specially Ramesh who guided and mentored me with his full interest and involvement. He made my journey his personal task and that’s why I am standing here – So tall, poised to leapfrog.

How many employees do you presently have? How many jobs are you planning to create?

We are team of 11 employees at present. We are building capabilities and would grow to over 40 team members in next 4 quarters with plans aiming towards a 400 strong team over the next 3-4 years.

What has been the highlight of being the entrpernuer behind vRock Mobile,?

The biggest achievement as of now would be when we were chosen as the exclusive mobile rights partner for IPL for SMS, MMS, 3G and IVR related services for a period of 5 years. We have configured mobile business around the need of live score alerts and in the process built an engagement model of cricket with mobile users or mobile consumers. What used to be a vanilla score alert often sourced from grey source – We turned it around as a legitimate content engaging consumers and establishing the content IPR. This was followed by the exclusive mobile rights for Asia Cup till 2014.

What do yo feel is fiting recognition for the work that vRock Mobile, does?

I am passionately following my dream of bringing millions of people closer to sporting properties, constantly innovating to deliver an outstanding user experience or more aptly - a “Real Mobile Experience”. So far in our first year, we haven’t won any awards but are excited to see the results…I admire Steve Jobs and completely believe in his idealogy of making the best possible products – people will line up to buy and that would be the greatest award. However we have gained industry recognition by being on the “Mobile Anti Piracy Task Force led by FICCI.  However our ideas have been highly recognised by our partners and we are currently concentrating on this. We are more focused on providing the rich experience to all our stake holders and most importantly the final subscribers. Let us build ourselves and awards will follow.

What is your vision for vRock Mobile, in the coming years?

We will continue to provide outstanding value to mobile service providers, enhanced, rich and enjoyable experience to mobile consumers across the world.  We are working towards becoming the final destination for seeking mCricket and entertainment experience over mobile, while on the move, while on the go.

Why do you think most aspiring (Indian) entrepreneurs never become successful?

I have observed that key challenge which comes as a roadblock for any budding entrepreneur in India is the ‘fear of failure’, before starting the venture. Risk is always there, but any entrepreneur who has a firm belief on his ‘idea’ should work with full conviction towards making it the ‘Big idea’. Belief is the key which will surely take away the fear. Attracting a right mix of talent and non-core function are the other key challenges.

What is your entrepreneurial philosophy at vRock Mobile?

Dream and dream a lot and follow your dream. Do business with full passion and loads of hardwork with burning desire to succeed…value add in everything you do and believe in a win – win model of creating value for clients, team members and stakeholders…rest will follow. Finally – Keep it simple!

YourStory wishes Jatin and vRock Mobile a long successful entrepreneurial journey. To get your dose of vRock Mobile go to http://www.vrockmobile.com/

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