The buyout of a firm or even a brand by existing employees of a firm would surely rank as one of the rarest of occasions in corporate India, or most markets around the world, in fact.
So when a journalist buys out his employer to run the company on his own, it’s definitely news. Sandeep Budki, erstwhile editor at personal technology portal themobileindian.com (TMI) just gave himself a promotion, to promoter and Managing Editor, by buying out the portal from its owners, Banyan Netfaqs Pvt Limited (BNPL).
BNPL is also the firm that owns industry leading afaqs!, with backing from Seedfund. TMI operates in the fiercely competitive yet most lucrative segment of the online space, with major industry giants as well as a host of smaller players and price comparison sites fighting for a share of the promotion budgets.
The website claims to have two million unique visitors on a monthly basis. Sandeep says that according to digital measurement platform Comscore, TMI is the seventh largest traffic puller in the technology space, providing the latest news/reviews on handsets, applications, games and developments on voice, technology and allied sectors.
Additionally, it’s a community site for mobile-related consumers and telecom professionals to interact by sharing their views, taking tips and reading about new launches and the latest offerings in the mobile and telecom industry in India.
For Sandeep, who had been a founder member of Themobileindian site since its inception in 2011, the wheel has come full circle. “I always believed hugely in the product, and had an unreasonable passion for the future of the personal technology space. With this buyout, and the extra independence it gives me, I hope to fulfill the full potential of the site in the months to come,” he says.
“While the change in ownership might have been a little unnerving to most employees, I am glad that our comfort with each other and the strong bonding within the team will remain. BNPL has always been known for its fantastic work environment and open culture. But now, I guess we have to learn to take the best out of that culture and marry it to some seriously frugal tactics,” he adds.
Preparatory to the buyout, Sandeep and his team had moved out of the BNPL office, and have already experienced startup challenges all over again, as they worked from home over the past month.
An undisclosed sum was eventually raised from the ever-dependable firm of SFL, or 'Self, Friends and family'. The funding is just the beginning of a log and a challenge, something Sandeep is quick to acknowledge. “The next few months will be crucial to ensure we can execute well, and provide the minimal support structure our employees deserve to perform well,” he says.
The company intends to help mobile consumers stay updated on the latest about their gadgets and also help them narrow down the options for their next buy. “Going forward we plan to broaden our horizon and cover more segments under personal technology that may make the life of an average consumers trouble-free,” says Sandeep.
TMI is also actively looking at raising funds to scale up the operations. “Our current team size is eight and we do plan to expand our team in the near future, as we are planning to launch new categories on TMI one every 45-60 days in the near future and also come up with content in different languages,” concludes Sandeep.