YourStory.in Exclusive: “My goal is to build Kuliza as a billion dollar technology company in India over the next decade", Anand, Kuliza
We at YourStory.in recently caught up with Anand, founder & CEO of Kuliza. In this exclusive with YourStory.in, Anand takes us through his journey as a serial entrepreneur.Anand, thanks a ton for speaking to YourStory.in. Before we delve in to Kuliza’s story, please tell us about your educational background and prior work experience.
I graduated from IIT Delhi in 2000. After which, I worked at a company called Trilogy for about three and a half years. I was one of the 15 people who started their India office in 2000. During my stint with them, I did a startup for Trilogy, the startup company was later renamed to VMLogix and was sold to Citrix. Between 2002 to 2006, I also did a startup on the side called stockfundas.com, which I co-founded with a partner based out of US, stockfundas was an acquisition story as well. Then I joined Amazon India in 2005, I was there for about an year and a half before starting Kuliza on September 7th 2006, so we have recently completed five years at Kuliza.
Two successful startups and a stint with Amazon India, what led you to starting up Kuliza?
When I started Kuliza in 2006, we were in the process of exiting stockfundas. I always wanted to do something on my own right from very early on in my career, that is how I got into stockfundas. Both Trilogy and stockfundas were very rich experiences for me in terms of setting up a company, taking the startup to a certain stage, and going through the entire life-cycle. I started Kuliza because I came across a very interesting opportunity to build great products for one of our partners in the US. So that opportunity spurred me into starting Kuliza.
Why did you choose mobile and social as your core focus areas?
Kuliza has evolved over the past 5 years, during the initial three and a half years we were completely focused on making our customers successful and we grew pretty fast by ensuring quality of our products and services. In the third year of our existence, we were ranked third in the Deloitte Fast 50. Infact we were featured in Deloitte Fast 50, two years consecutively. After growing the company close to 90 people, we realized that it is important for us to bring focus to our operations, and mobile and social are two very exciting areas. Especially, the way mobile and social are changing commerce space is something that is extremely exciting for us. Hence we built solutions like Encount, Shoppulse, and Soapbox to help companies do commerce better.
The way people are making purchasing decisions based on recommendations and reviews, and the amount of content they generate in the process is very exciting. The world is still in the very early stages of how online commerce and commerce in general across various sectors will happen using these technologies. We believe that going forward people will spend more time on their mobile phones to get social. So going by these exciting structural changes, we refocused ourselves only in these two categories.How did you acquire your first few customers?
In our case, we started with a customer. In fact, we have been working with our first customer since the past 5 years. We are lucky to have had incredible number of repeat businesses through referrals. But now, new customers discover us all by themselves as we are one of the very few companies that lead the social mobility space in India. And, the way we are positioned is very unique in India.
That is interesting! How do you market Kuliza’s offerings?
A couple of examples. As a company positioned in the social space, we pretty much live by example. If you visit our website, you will see that we have a social technology blog, and many of our employees are active on twitter. We brand ourselves making ample use of social technologies. The company website itself drives tremendous amount of customers to us because we have got interesting and engaging content that helps companies make decisions.
We recently came up with the social technology quarterly. Do visit socialtechnologyquarterly.com, it is essentially a collection of articles compiled in the form of a book that we release every quarter as a research contribution towards our field.
Can you tell us in detail about the cloud services that you offer?
We have a cloud offering for startups and mid-sized companies that are looking to host and manage their application on cloud platforms like Amazon, Rackspace, etc. The typical problem that companies face while managing their mission critical applications on the cloud is ensuring their availability 24/7. While building products for a lot of our clients, we figured that this is a very significant customer need. So we have created a vertical for cloud within Kuliza to address this gap.
With your experience of working within the mobile ecosystem for quite sometime now, how do see mobile commerce evolve in India?
The mobile commerce space will be very big. Google is expecting almost 200 million Android devices in India. Infact, the price tag of all Android devices is almost 5 to 7 thousand rupees. What we will see in the next two years is the proliferation of all these devices on a very large scale into the market. A lot of people who never had internet access previously, will now have internet access through their mobile devices. And this is a trend that is quite evident in China, where more commerce has happened through mobile than through internet. This trend will accelerate in India soon.
Where are your clients mostly based out of?
Significant part of our client base is in the US.
You have scaled Kuliza very fast. From your experience, please share a few tips as to how to go about hiring the right team? What has worked for Kuliza?I would say that, I have been personally very greedy in terms of having the right kind of people at Kuliza. Whenever I met someone who I thought would bring in the right kind of value to the company, I made sure they came on board of Kuliza. To hire the right kind of people, you need to make a conscious effort, and you have to be constantly on the lookout for them. They do not necessarily come from referral agencies, you might even find them at a coffee shop. So all you have to do is keep your ears and eyes open, and when you find the right people you must be greedy to get them on board!
What are your views on the booming mobile app market in India?
A lot of Indian mobile app companies are building apps successfully for the US market. That is where most of the purchases are happening as of now. In India, we just have a few app developers who have made a sizable business by building apps and growing their business. I feel that over the next few years explosion of commerce will drive content and revenues for the mobile app developers. Travel is another area that I think will drive app revenue. But, it will take a while for India to become as mature market as some of the other countries.
What has been YoY revenue growth at Kuliza?
If we look at the cumulative growth over the last 5 years, it is around 70 percent.
Are you looking at fund raising?
If we find the right opportunity and the right investors, we would be happy to partner with them.
Finally, can you tell us what is the way forward for Kuliza?
I think I am really excited about the next 5 years. The last five years was about creating a very strong base for Kuliza, creating a strong management team, creating a strong brand, creating a very strong positioning and acquiring very interesting and large customer base.
For us the next year will be about accelerating the growth. And we feel that if you look at 1990s, we had large service companies like Infosys, Wipro getting created and billion dollar companies that got created in IT services space in India. We had telecom companies getting created from 5 billion dollar to multi-billion dollar companies, and recently with Flipkart’s valuation people in India are talking about billion dollar valuation in “product technology space”. We feel that in the next five years India will see many more such stories. We will see really great technology and product companies getting created in India that are multi-billion dollar companies. With the markets maturing, e-commerce maturing, increasing mobile penetration and VC market maturing, the ecosystem in India right now is very supportive of this trend.
So my goal is to build Kuliza as a billion dollar technology company in India over the next decade.
We at YourStory.in wish Anand & team Kuliza all the best with all their endeavors. Do visit their website for further details.
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