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Do you want to build business for a billion users or for billion rupees?

Tausif Alam
31st Oct 2015
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What’s the key to running a successful mobile-based business out of India? A group of entrepreneurs who have built their businesses around mobile sat down for a panel discussion at TechSparks on Friday. The group comprisedArvind Pani, Co-Founder and Director, Reverie Language Technologies; Rakesh Kapoor, Founder, Process9; Raja Hussain, Founder and CEO, Airloyal; and Ishwar Sridharan, Co-founder and CEO, Exotel.

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Has the mobile business reached the tipping point in the country? Arvind of Reverie Technologies said different kinds of mobile platforms have different issues and areas of concern. Reverie, which provides regional language capabilities to devices manufacturers – mobile manufacturers, tablets, set top boxes, games and application developers, among others– sees the market differently.

“Unlike traditional medium in India, which started and flourished in local language, digital medium developed and grew in one language – English. Interestingly, 90 percent of the country’s population can’t speak or understand English. So, there’s an immensely large space where we can bridge the language barrier by offering digital content in the local language. There’s a long way to go in this space before it reaches its tipping point,” he added.

Elaborating on the subject, Rakesh of Process9 said that one should understand and address the problem owing to language barrier faced by users in small cities. Process9 is an online, cloud-based machine and machine-assisted translation technology, currently supporting nine Indian languages. The next version the MOX Mobile, a combination of OS translation, keypads and fonts for mobile devices, currently supports 21 Indian languages.

When asked if he was building a billion-dollar business, Ishwar of Exotel, a Bengauru-based startup that offers business phone systems on the cloud to SMEs, said he was building a business for a billion people. Exotel offers a number to companies with which they can receive and make calls and SMSes all at the same time, without having to invest in any infrastructure. The product is a dashboard with sales, marketingand customer support tools, business intelligence, analytics etc. “There’s a lot of concentration on Internet-based technology in India. However, there are various areas where one can build the system and offer services to users,”he said.

Making the battle between mobile-based business and others, Raja Hussain of Airloyal said there was still no consensus on mobileapp-only business and others. Airloyal is a digital mobile advertisement startup. Last year, it launched its first product – Ladooo – a mobile advertising platform available on Google Play store that offers guaranteed engagement for every mobile ad campaign.

Raja spoke about two important parts in mobileapp-only segment – customer acquisition and customer retention. “Both acquisition and retention of customers are the two key issues in the segment. It’s true after acquiring the customer it is as difficult as retaining them and we can do nothing about that. The only thing we can do, and is not done by anyone yet, is take customer feedback. This can surely change the status quo and improve the entire segment,”he said.

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