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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Luck, Perseverance: Keys to be OnMobile

Eureka Bharali
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Eureka Bharali
It may sound contradictory but it’s true! The man who hates reading his mails on the move in smartphones and likes to keep his cell phone off at nights, is the same man who pioneered ringback tones in India and today he successfully heads the Rs.400 crore telecom business of OnMobile. Arvind Rao, the CEO of OnMobile, is a man who loves to be recognized not by his appearance but by his skills and infact was famous for his worst dressing sense. “I remember once closing a deal in jeans and a t-shirt. The guy seemed distracted the whole time. Just before he signed the contract, he looked up and asked confusedly: ‘One of you is the CEO. Who is it?’ My colleagues were dressed in suits, while I was in casuals. Yet, I was talking the most,” he reveals with a smile in a most casual tone.

Hadn’t there been the zeal within Arvind Rao and his colleagues, a bunch of techies led by ex-Infosicion Mouli Raman, OnMobile couldn’t have reached the present heights after it was resurrected from the ashes. Today, the company stands as a fitting example of how perseverance and focus pays off. As a company, they have seen moments, when they expected first-rate results but all they could get were failures. Now, when Rao speaks about his baby there’s a glint in his eyes that testifies the never-die-spirit within him, a trait which he wants to instill in everyone in OnMobile.

Luck By Chance

Entrepreneurship was never a word for Rao, an IIT graduate, when he flew off to the U.S. to pursue his MBA at Wharton. Once out of grad school, he saw McKinsey calling. He was responsible for one of the portals of the consulting world at McKinsey, straddling consulting and private equity together. His comfortable life however, still had an issue – a missing line. It was a spell of destiny that when Rao came to India to start an IT fund in the country for McKinsey, he chanced upon a few senior members of Infosys including Raman and was completely unaware of the venture that was cropping up within Infosys under the leadership of Mouli Raman.

“I had no idea that an in-house team was working on developing wireless, telecom and Internet products within the IT services behemoth. Infact that was the time, when the team was also anticipating a spin out to start independently,” the CEO recalls. All the while, the group standing opposite could see in him a great partner, courtesy his more than 10 years of investor experience in U.S.


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