As mobile consumers we all use some form of VAS, and according to IAMAI the mobile VAS market is expected to be worth Rs 29,900 crore by the end of 2013. If Indians and their love for mobile phones is anything to go by, then the space will continue to grow in the near future. One of the earliest players in the mobile VAS space is Techzone, who are probably better known for their shortcode 56060.
Started way back in 1999, when even mobile phones were not as prevalent as today, Techzone is one of the largest aggregators, developers, publishers and distributors of mobile entertainment content within India. The company has the largest library of music and video titles in the Bollywood movie market, as well as Tamil and Telugu movie markets. The company has exclusive content rights for top brands such as Universal Music, Yash Raj Films, Venus, Sony Music, Times Music, Sa Re Ga Ma MTV, Nick, VH1, Colors and NDTV among others.
Naveen Bhandari is the brain and the MD of Techzone who left his family business to turn entrepreneur 15 years back. “We had an urge to work in a technology sector on a digital platform. The GSMA technology had just started then to deliver ring tones & mono ring tones on mobile phones & that’s when we got into this place,” reminisces Naveen. Today Techzone works across operators, across all possible platforms.
Techzone offers a range of products and services including Caller Ring Back Tone (CRBT), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), WAP, SMS and the recently launched Magic Voice are some of their offerings. Naveen says utility based services are witnessing a surge of revenue increase, which includes services like news, health tips, matrimony etc. Techzone is also working with News channels to package and distribute news on mobile phones. Movie content is another major business driver for the venture.
“All major telcos, media houses, FMCG brands and enterprise solution customers are our clients,” says Naveen. Entertainment content acquired for an artist is packaged in different forms of SMS, WAP, IVR and CRBT to offer customers the choice. Incase of news, the delivery mechanism is WAP, which provides consumer news in a combination of text, video and picture. One minute news capsules are also delivered to customers three times a day. And customers can access real time news by dialing to an IVR facility they provide.
We asked Naveen about their approach towards strategy and innovation to built so many variants of delivery, and he credits his young team who aspire to do things differently. “We look at every product with passion and create better packaged products around each product or brand to ensure it is acceptable to subscribers. Our team has created all the products, and each product has its specific market and audience to consume such contents,” he says proudly.
It’s not surprising then that Techzone has been growing exponentially – in the region of 250% -- over the last few years in the domestic market. They reach out to over 100 million subscribers every month, both within and outside India. However, he is concerned over the turbulent times facing the Indian VAS market and how it will effect Techzone. “Currently, the VAS industry is going through turbulent times due to TRAI rules and regulations stating double confirmation from the customers. But I am sure that the next revolution in VAS space would be in terms of M governance, M solutions for enterprises and media houses integrating mobile into their products. We are going to see VAS contributing more in our daily lives more and more through various utility products and services and not only as a infotainment solution. There are certain hindrances in terms of 3G penetration and limitations of mobile payment due to regulations. But with present developments we can hope to overcome these bottlenecks in time to come,” says Naveen optimistically.
The scorching pace of growth at Techzone is supported by a team of 250 professionals, who have joined the company from across fields like technology, media houses, business analysts etc. And the company relies on media promotions such as TV, Youtube, Face book, radio, SMS and voice calls to promote its the services. The selection of channel for distribution depends on the service that has to be promoted, explains Naveen. Besides India, Techzone also works with telcos and service providers across 40 different countries, and Naveen says he aims to cover 100 countries in the next 12 months.
While their offering is pretty straight forward and has enough demand in the market, regulatory hindrances could be the spoke in Techzone’s growth wheel. Naveen says there is enough room for many companies to co-exist as the market potential of VAS is huge. “All the companies functioning in this sector today have got their own space. We are not competing with each other at all. So it’s just depended upon us how much we can go, how fast can we roll out, how fast is the team together in terms of rolling out solutions. How much do they visualize to the bulls eyes to what things to be delivered and infuse creativity from the product team? It’s about what the team is doing. If at all there is competition, they are competing within the team,” says the entrepreneur.