Remember the dotcom boom, when everyone with an entrepreneurial bone in their body was setting out to explore the brave new frontiers of the world wide web? Subsequently, remember when it all came crashing down in the early 2000s? Karthik Karunakaran and Gautam Dalmia certainly do.
Their first entrepreneurial adventure, DotCom company, aimed to educate consumers on what products to buy. However, when the dotcom bubble burst, that company went out of business.
But their takeaway from this venture was the knowledge that the Internet space was just starting to get bre exciting. Information on the internet was growing at an insane pace. And they could see immense opportunities for businesses in this maze of information. “It was like a goldmine where the right information had to be tapped from the right sources in a consistent manner at enterprise scale,” says Karthik.
Armed with this insight, in 2002 the duo plunged into the world of e-commerce and web research and Mobius Knowledge Services was born. Today, the company leverages automation, bots, NLP, machine learning, and human expertise to provide significant insights to its customers, which include over 50 leading Forbes 2000 companies.
“Our focus on resolving customers’ business problems with the expanding Internet data meant that we’ve always been figuring out unique ways to solve different data problems. So even before Big Data and AI became industry buzzwords, we were playing with them in our solutions. This ensured that we developed a host of internal intellectual properties that could be reused and improved for every new data problem. One of these includes a cloud-based crawl solution platform which they developed to facilitate better co-ordination and management of multiple bots and help them work with large volumes and velocity of data.
Last year they launched their product data management platform Productiwise which helps retailers get consistent product data on all their selling channels. They are soon planning to launch a product information management tool with in-built catalogue enrichment and onboarding automation features, and are also working on a SaaS-based platform for their solutions and subscription-based sales of their data assets.
As the internet evolved, the explosion and sheer size of data was a major challenge they had to deal with. The ever-changing user behaviour and the legalities tied with the data landscape also meant that their business model had to be restructured often.
And while being in a niche area meant that they didn’t face stiff market competition, it also meant that customers didn’t come with well-defined requirements. The Mobius team had to always brainstorm for the perfect solution. Customers weren’t aware of all that the internet data could do for their type of business. So they didn’t just execute their needs but also had to ‘think’ on their behalf, offering a reengineered solution that gave them a much higher value proposition than just cost.
The Mobius founders say they are committed to staying on the same side as their customers at all times, just like the Mobius strip, the unique, non-orientable geometric object with only one side. This means they have to often go the extra mile. “The quality and accuracy of the data we provide to our customer’s exigencies are consistently high and we invest, try, and test new technologies, to ensure that their risks are mitigated,” says Karthik. One of the ways in which they do this is by first implementing the solutions internally and taking them to the client only after they are proved feasible in internal projects.
“What started off as a five-member team with big dreams huddled together in small rooms, has now grown to become a 1,000+ strong workforce at four delivery locations. The growth of our customer base across the globe is quite remarkable considering how niche our market is. The acquisition of 365 Media, a technology-intensive startup based out of India is a key milestone for us and has helped accelerate our technological efforts,” says Karthik, and adds, “The future looks very promising as we are building a better business model to monetise our years of innovation and IP that has been internally generated.” Bootstrapped from the time they started, most of their funding has been through internal accruals.
Any entrepreneurial journey is incomplete without multiple service/product trials, hours of patient market research, and hectic client meetings. All of which would be useless, if not for solid technological support and backing. The Mobius team says that Dell has played a key role in enabling their growth over the years. While the team swears by the ever-reliable and sleek Dell laptops as smart devices to work on and take their business ideas forward at impressive speeds, Karthik adds that 70 percent of their data center servers are powered by Dell with configurations customised to support their script-heavy platforms. “Dell happened to be our natural choice due to their no-frills direct contact model and value-for-money pricing. More importantly, our IT support guys can breathe easy since Dell's maintenance downtime is minimal (just a 4 hour SLA, peeps!) and the support extended by Dell stands unmatched in the industry,” says Karthik.
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