Sriram V Iyer on building mobile innovations with United MobileApps
We at YourStory have been following the progress of United Mobile Apps for the last few months. They have rapidly scaled up their offerings and in a very short span turned revenue positive. Its interesting, as product tech ventures typically have a high gestation period in India and it is difficult to convince the market to start adopting the innovations coming from such startups. Co founder SriramV Iyer takes us through the journey of his venture till date.Excerpts of the interview -
What is United Mobile Apps (UMA) into?
United Mobile Apps sees that Mobile Phones and Mobile Devices (like tablets) are becoming gateways to create / consume / share content and will also be the key portals for personal and business transactions. All device manufacturers are working hard to create an ecosystem for their own devices (Apple: Facetime for iPhone / iPod, Mobile Me etc. Nokia: Ovi Store and so on) However, there is no way to interconnect devices of multiple manufacturers and across mobile networks.
So, at UMA, we created a platform called Unify that would provide various services across the whole range of mobile platforms - Android, iOS,Symbian, Blackberry, WinMo, BREW etc. Unify basically creates an ecosystem of connected devices irrespective of the device manufacturer. Unify is an ideal platform to roll out mVAS services.
Our aim is to see Unify as the default platform for synchronization / backup, data sharing platform across mobile devices.
Business Differentiators of UMA?
Most of our competitors have been providing solutions to backup data into a cloud and allow mobile devices to access the cloud. We started with mobile devices as the focus - So, we have a better architecture where mobile devices are the center of the platform. Unify can create great user experiences compared to other solutions when it comes to mobile devices.
Competitive advantage /what barriers to entry are you creating?
We have created a stable and a robust platform that has been built from the ground up with the mobile devices as focus, other factors would be - Cost advantages, Early mover advantage, Highly motivated and technologically strong team
Tell us the background of the Founding team, how did you all come together and start, also what keeps the team together?
Arun and I have over 11 years of experience is Wireless / Broadband/ Mobile domain. Karthik and Mahalingam have great experience in running operations of their Automotive Components industry for over 25 years.While Arun and I take care of the technology / planning / execution, operations and finance are handled by Karthik.
I worked in Philips Semiconductors for 4 years in Low Power WiFi Chipset domain and also had a brief tryst with GSM/GPRS, 3G, Bluetooth etc. Later worked in Beceem Communications from its early days in 2004 to 2009 for the WiMAX mobile team. Arun and I joined Beceem almost at the same time and played crucial roles in development and deployment of WiMAX technology around the globe. After almost five years at Beceem, we decided to step out and start UMA.
The whole founder team is very dynamic, and since we know each other for a very long time and faced challenges together, there is a deep sense of trust that runs amongst all the founders. We mutually respect each other for the value we bring into the company. We are excited by challenges and the impact UMA / Unify can create in this world. The vision of creating a world class innovative product right from India excites us to move together in pursuit of this goal
Now, with Vasuki Setlur and Dr. Arjuna S added to our EMT, we believe we have a great potential in realizing our dreams.
On your global experience -outlook -- work experience, how is it coming handy now as an entrepreneur?
Arun and I have traveled extensively all around the globe. This has been a great value add to see the perspective of our International customers. We have also had the opportunity to work in close quarters with inspiring leaders like Babu Mandava (Beceem Communications, Centillium etc). This has greatly helped us to push beyond what we thought was possible. As frontline customer facing members, Arun and I have had a fair share of enlightening experiences!
On being the Finalist at Qualcomm Ventures' Q Prize 2011
QPrize 2010 was a great opportunity for us. It was a wonderful experience to interact with the judges and other members of the panel. We also picked up a few business leads in the Networking session. Special thanks to Anand Virani (Qualcomm), Ashutosh (Qualcomm Ventures) and Girish C Joshi (Microsoft) for all the great help during and past the competition.
Challenges currently as an early stage tech entrepreneur
Our product is differentiated and quite advanced technologically and we have already started clocking in good revenues but to get to the second stage we need funding. Early stage funding in India still remains a challenge. Since we are a new tech company off the block, it is difficult to convince Network Operators and OEM vendors to roll in services / products based on our offering. Funding from a reputed VC could go a great distance in convincing the prospective customers.
Plans in the coming months
We had to work for almost 1.5 years to get our basic product ready in shape. We are already into revenues since Q4 2010. You can see a lot of products based on Unify getting rolled out in the coming few months starting with a revamped usyncworld.com for personal data sync across mobile devices (right now backs up phone book only), very intuitive and engaging realtime photo sharing based on Unify and a whole suite of enabling technologies like connection and device management solutions for the WiMAX/LTE and other broadband technologies.
United Mobile Apps, will it be another success story? We would like to believe so. While we keep updating you on UMA as they continue to ramp up, why don't you check them out at http://www.umobile.in/