Are you ready for Mobilesparks 2014? Here's a recap of the first edition


YourStory is delighted to announce the launch of its mobile startup showcase and conference, Mobile Sparks 2014 (apply here), in Bangalore on December 19! The inaugural edition, called MobiSparks 2012, kicked off in Bangalore on November 24 – here is a quick recap to show you how exciting this annual event is!

Sponsors of the 2012 edition included Vodafone India, Sequoia Capital India, One97 Mobility Fund and UKTI. The MobiSparks 2012 report was also released and distributed online via InstaMojo.

Industry Insights

Mohit Bhatnagar, MD, Sequoia Capital India, prophetically announced that in the next 12-18 months there will be major global mobile startups emerging from India, following the trail blazed by companies like InMobi. Investors look for the following key features in mobile startups: category leaders, network effects, solution to big problems, usability, path to monetisation, entry barriers and grit of the management team.

For example, AdMob got into the mobile advertising space before other Internet players, and was bought by Google later. Square enabled smartphones to become payment devices. Even the smartest minds may not get mobile innovation right, eg. Steve Jobs thought DropBox was only a feature, observed Bhatnagar. InstaGram was built purely for mobile, with a maniacal focus on minimal features, easy interface and customer voting.

Ringback tones showed the success of the “viral and usable model” in India’s mobile market, said Bhatnagar. Ads are the main revenue stream, but collecting payments is still tricky. Challenges for mobile startups still include discovery, market education, payments and breaking into the enterprise mobility market.

Investor and mentor Sanjay Anandram recalled that his first investment in a mobile company in India was in 2001. India is now a supplier as well as a market, which is good news for the mobile industry and for consumers, as shown by companies like MicroMax.

The panel discussion on mobile innovation trends noted that there is still a lot of “cut-paste stuff” happening in India, but there is lots of room for unique local innovations. The app ecosystem allows developers to go global instantly, side-stepping mobile operators -- however, Indian apps need improvement in design, beyond functionality. There is still plenty of room for local language voice-based mobile services, especially in rural India.

Ravi Gururaj, Citrix Systems, conducted an interesting session on “Brainstorming the Next Big Mobile App Idea.” He showcased possible examples of apps via five ideation vectors to build on a core app idea: Flip, Tangent, Enhance, Disrupt and Fuse.

Startup Showcases

The much-awaited mobile startup showcase then kicked off with the following pitches:

1. Remo Software: software system utilities to Recover (R), Erase (E), Manage (M) and Optimize (O) data on mobiles

2. IQLECT: elastic data platform for cloud

3. Grene Robotics: remote monitoring and management solutions

4. Visarity Technology: mobile AR experience platform in the entertainment & media vertical

5. MobileCozy: mobile payments via credit/debit cards

6. AppSurfer: social app recommendation platform

7. Jana Care: reversing "Diabesity" - the twin epidemic of diabetes and obesity - by embedding mobile technology with diagnostics

8. SectorQube Technolabs: MAID (Microwave Android Integrated Device)

9. Uniphore: speech-based enterprise-class mobility provider

10. AstralPad: simplifying office productivity and collaboration on the iPad and other mobile devices.

There pitches were also made by mobile app developers:

1. PhonOn (from Demach): asynchronous voice messaging application that works across iOS, Android and the web

2. Twaang: on-demand Android mobile music library for Indian music lovers

3. Hubbl: word-of-mouth platform for Apps that is powered by opinions expressed via collaborative tagging.

The MobiSparks LaunchPad featured four new startups launching on the very day of MobiSparks 2012:

1. InTouchId: a contact management solution for smartphones

2. DeckApp: helps users make presentations from their mobile devices

3. Native5: cloud platform that allows development and management of apps

4. Robotics-Live: robots controllable by smartphones.

App-ortunity ahead

The next workshop was conducted by Rohit Singal, Founder and CEO, Sourcebits. “App development is the most direct, short-term thing that ever happened to product innovation,” began Singal. He also reflected on why he left his initial career path in medicine: seeing the games Diablo and Age of Empires was a transformative experience for him!

Providing too many settings for a mobile app frustrates user experience, he advised, sharing several other useful tips for startups: your development cycle should not take more than six months; the first week of launch is absolutely critical; include Facebook and Twitter integration; make professional-quality videos; and build your fan base. “Accept failure fast and be prepared to pivot,” Singal concluded.

Mobile Sparks 2014 builds on the 2012 and 2013 editions with even more exciting sessions, workshops and showcases – book your space now!


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