Ganesh Ram, MobileVeda, Enabling Mobile Publishing in Indian Languages
We at YourStory.in recently caught up with Entrepreneur Ganesh Ram KR, founder of MobileVeda, a venture focussed on using mobile technologies for creating positive change. MobileVeda has undertaken innovative projects like Fublish & CellNool to enable publishing in Indian regional languages on mobile devices. In an exclusive interview with YourStory.in, Ganesh tells us about his venture in detail.
Ganesh is also the winner of the British Council’s Young Publishing Entrepreneur Awards in 2011. To know more about the Young Publishing Entrepreneur Awards, click here. To follow the Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards on Facebook, check out http://www.facebook.com/YCEAwards
Ganesh, what is MobileVeda all about ?
“Veda” is the oldest form of knowledge known in the history of mankind. Whereas “Mobile” is the most recent phenomenon around the world, a technology breakthrough that is changing the world in many ways. At MobileVeda, we develop products and solutions with the most modern technological mindset, combined with a heart that seeks ancient wisdom & strives to achieve good-for-all.
Tell us more. How do you plan to use technology to achieve good-for-all via MobileVeda?
We started with tender steps, our first focus area is mobile publishing - enabling access to knowledge – bringing books and other forms of traditionally printed materials on to mobile phones and tablets in the most convenient forms. The key point here is enabling publishing in Indian regional languages even on devices that doesn’t support such fonts natively.
What led you to starting up MobileVeda?
I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. After completing my graduation and a certificate course in e-commerce management in the year 2000, for 7 years I managed my family business(grocery store and FMCG distribution). At the same time, along with friends, I started a local area jobs portal for Coimbatore, that startup failed. Later, along with Mr.Saravanan, started MobileVeda. In 2008, we started MobileVeda at VIT University’s Incubation center VITTBI, for which we got selected through Innovators Identification Camp held at Coimbatore.
What is the size of your team?
Currently, there are nine people including the founders. We are looking to hire someone for Business Development.
Tell us about MobileVeda’s project Fublish.
Fublish means Futuristic Publishing/Future of Publishing. This is a platform being built by MobileVeda for enabling publishers and authors to take their work into various digital medium including web and mobile. Fublish.com is the website dedicated for this purpose. Currently, there are a few hundred free Tamil mobile books available. More books in other languages and paid version books will be added to the collection soon.
Tell us about Project CellNool.
We launched a product called “SEED”. It is a collection of 1000 books readable on mobile phones. This is a library-in-your-pocket, and is priced at Rs.300(available on a CD as well). Files can be transferred to any java enabled mobile and can be read by the users. It doesn’t require internet connectivity on the mobile phones for accessing this. After successful pilot marketing at Vellore and Tiruppur, based on the feedback from users and channel partners, we have enriched this with many new features. “Project CellNool” is our endeavor for making one million people into walking digital libraries!
Tell us about the services at VIT Technology Business Incubator. Share your experiences with us.
It has been wonderful working at such a world-class institution. The campus is inspirational and energetic. VIT Technology Business Incubator supported us with office space at an unbelievably low cost that included internet connectivity. They offer seed fund support as well. We got a soft loan( at simple interest of 6% p.a. ) of Rs.4,20,000/- that we have repaid fully. They also provide regular mentoring support, share relevant knowledge, business leads and references.
How do you make money ?
As our products has not yet been launched in a very big scale, there were a number of consulting projects, web and mobile development work that we took up for bootstrapping. Some of such key projects include mobile web matrimony application for BharatMatrimony, Indian language “Indic Info Services” application for IMImobile and eReader application for Vikatan Group.
What is your outreach model?
We have not spent anything for marketing. Word-of-mouth and customer references bring us new leads. We are however, planning for a number of online and offline activities in the near future.
What are the tech platforms on which MobileVeda projects are built?
How do you plan to scale MobileVeda?
We are in the process of graduating from Incubation(completing our seed stage) and are looking for raising around a crore rupees from a few Angel Investors. Bangalore based HeadStartVentures is interested in us and we are working with them for further exploration. Govt. Project funding through TDB schemes is also being explored.
How many people did MobileVeda reach out to so far?
We have nearly 16,000 registered users on our website and 60000 plus free book downloads. Through “SEED” mobile library product, we have reached out to nearly one thousand people. We have reached to a few thousands more through GetJar, Apple AppStore, Blackberry AppWorld, Nokia OVI Store, Android Market and Aircel PocketApps Store.
Are there other players in market doing similar things? How are you different from them?
Internationally Zinio is a well known eMagazine solution. PRESSMART is an Indian company with global operations providing digital publishing solutions for a number of publishers. There are many individuals, small publishers who publish ebook applications on vendor portals like AppStore, Android Market, etc. We are different in the sense that we act both as a technology provider as well as digital publisher(B2B as well as B2C business models). Local languages is another key element of MobileVeda.
What are the challenges faced while distributing mobile content?
Successfully delivering applications to mobile users in India requires operator tie-ups. This is easy for large companies who act as content aggregators. Small players in Mobile VAS do not have many options other than submitting to various vendor portals. Recently, as the mobile internet penetration has increased in India, there are some positive signs of improvement in delivery of mobile apps. Still billing remains a huge challenge! There are challenges like language barriers, usage patterns, real needs of our country that differ from International use-cases, but most of them are opportunities in disguise.
Let us know of any partnerships that you have.
We have signed-up as vendors with Apple(for AppStore), RIM(for Blackberry AppWorld), Nokia(for OVI Store) and Google’s Android marketplace. We are one of the ISVs for Infosys’s FlyPP platform that powers Aircel’s PocketApps store.
How was the experience of winning at YCE in the Publishing category?
It has been really great! We are excited as this has given us an opportunity to interact with creative entrepreneurs from around the globe.