Vivek Steve Francis
Brief about company, offerings and foundation of the company
MobME is a young and vibrant Mobile company focused on Value Added Services for Mobile Phone users and Carrier Grade Solutions for Network Operators. Our in-depth understanding of the telecom ecosystem also enables us to deliver solutions to Enterprise customers and Government Organisations.We started out as a college start-up focused on the Telecom Industry in late 2005. It was called Torque; a partnership firm then. Gradually things picked up & we expanded the team a bit. We raised an angel investment of half a million dollars in December 2006 & registered the company as MobME Wireless Solutions (P) Ltd
The challenges and lessons learnt to get first customer
In the days before starting up, we used to distribute SIM cards in colleges in Kerala for BPL Mobile, as a way of earning some pocket money.When we finally decided to start up a Company, Telecom was the obvious sector and BPL Mobile was our obvious first client.Convincing them that we were serious; and that this was going to be a full time occupation was the hard part.
Most critical decision
Cash is always an issue, when you start up. You always need that extra bit of money to get things going. Debt is not really an option, considering that banks ask for collateral. And you really don’t want to take money from Friends & Family.This left us with 2 options – bootstrap and grow organically, or raise funds in exchange of equity. We chose the equity route, and this meant giving up a good chunk of equity at a very early stage, which was very hard to digest initially.However, this worked for us – We managed to raise money from a couple of angel investors (also entrepreneurs themselves), who asked us not to worry about money and also gave us complete operational freedom. We got the breathing space that we needed so badly.
Different actions if I rebuild my company from scratch all over again
Three big lessons/ mistakes encountered while building company
Way of choosing my people
The team is the most important piece of the Startup Puzzle – You figure this out, and everything else falls into place.As a startup, it is very important to handpick your team. Look around – there are definitely people who are on your same wavelength, who share the same passion – Sell them your vision, bring them on board and your job is half done.
Google – Their DNA is incredible. This is something that the founders have created and improvised upon to steer the whole company in the direction of constant innovation
We believe there is something called the ‘DNA’ of a team. It’s what that makes one company different from another. In our case, it’s made of passion, confidence, youthful energy, out-of-the-box thinking and great team spirit.Building a successful company is all about how we manage to pass this DNA onto the new people that join the company. Get the DNA right, and you have people motivating each other.
On the investment front, we’ve primarily reached out to high net worth individuals in Kerala who come from an entrepreneurship background. And we’ve been relatively successful at this.They were inspired by the team and the passion, was able to relate to our stories, and very soon came on board as our “angels”, and started helping us out with money as well as opening up their contacts and networks.
While, we have been relatively successful in Creating a Company and making money for all the stakeholders, what really drives us is the urge to create something new, something that is game changing, something that would revolutionize the way people live.
Just keep following your dreams and passions. Never give up – in the end, the dots will connect.Looking back, it will all make sense.
It is important to constantly keep innovating.If things didn’t change, then we would keep on doing what was always done, and there would be no need for innovation. If technology stayed constant, if markets were stable, if customers were predictable, if competitors didn’t come up with new products and services, then we would all just keep going as we did yesterday.
Change is accelerating and we don’t know what’s coming in the future, which means that we must innovate to both prepare for change, and to make change
Over the last 6 years, the Indian Telecom Industry has literally exploded - From around 150M mobile users in 2006, the country now has over 900M mobile users. This incredible growth provided a clear opportunity, but it also meant there were several hundreds of Mobile VAS companies fighting it out. Only a few survived.The trick here was to continuously innovate – always stay ahead of the curve. As a young team, we’ve always been passionate and innovative, nimble and adaptive, confident and persistent.
Starting up in college is never easy.You keep hearing this question “Have you come to college to study or do a business?” which is not very encouraging; especially considering the early plunge you have taken.Another major problem for a college startup is to create a steady flow of business. Being very young and being students doesn't help when you go for meetings & presentations. It's hard for the person sitting across the table to take you seriously. This problem gradually fades away when there is enough track record & the client sees the execution capabilities of the team.