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March - 2008 - issue > Technology
MoMo-Duniya
Priya Pradeep
Friday, February 29, 2008
If you take a break on a Monday, you’ll remember it more than a regular Sunday off. For technology denizens attending a MobileMonday (MoMo) meet, which is regularly held on a Monday every month, it definitely turns out to be a break of sorts where they hope to break new ground in mobile technology.

MoMo is a global community of mobile industry visionaries, developers, and influentials fostering cooperation and cross-border business development through virtual and live networking events to share ideas, best practices, and trends from global markets. Initiated in the autumn of 2000 in Helsinki, Finland, on an accidentally planned Monday evening by a group of Finnish visionaries in a pub, the movement has spread across the globe. The Monday fixation has become the protocol of MoMo—at present the world’s leading mobile community. It is a not-for-profit organization and no revenue is made from the sponsors. MoMo approaches sponsors (IT companies) only for making available a venue to conduct the meet. The company in turn gets visibility among the mobile community for the friendly gesture.

Since 2006 in India, MoMo has brought cheers to mobile technology aficionados across Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad. Bangalore and Mumbai chapters are more active due to the longer legacy of software companies here.

VeerChand Bothra, Founder, MoMo Mumbai, wears his passion for MoMo on his sleeves and is infectiously energetic towards its cause. Started in July 2006, MoMo Mumbai has had an unbroken record of monthly meetings till date. “MoMo worldwide is a community of communities,” points out Bothra. “The system is decentralized and works at the grassroot level.”

Chips in Thiyagarajan Maruthavanan, Co-Founder, MoMo Bangalore, “The MoMo meetings are the perfect antidote to beat the ‘Monday Blues’ of the regular office goer, hence the objective is to give participating techies something to look forward to at the end of a regular Monday.” He continues, “The very fact that some people try to make it to the meets despite the heavy traffic on a Monday evening shows their commitment and, in toto, it is a very good filter to separate the passionate MoMo members from the rest.” MoMo is a blend of an unconference and conference at the same time; Unconference because the proceedings are deeply interactive and a conference because an expert speaker is invited to speak in depth about a topic of interest at each meeting. The speech is followed by a discussion and later a demo. The icing on the cake happens at the end when there is active networking among the new and old members.

Bothra explains, drawing attention to the fact that all such tech camps happening now in India have had their roots in the West, “Reflecting on this situation just shows how much India lacks in the entrepreneurial spirit. In Silicon Valley, California, there are risk takers who want to build companies out of promising ideas. Hence to steamroll ahead they seek all kind of information on how to run their companies in the best possible manner. This prompts informal or formal get-togethers of like-minded people who want to help each other out.” Such rarefied groups were hard to find in India up till now and thanks to initiatives of smart Indian techies in the flat world, concepts happening on the other side of the Atlantic are taking roots here. This is indeed a reflection of changing occupational mores in India what with the increased interest in entrepreneurship, courtesy the booming Indian economy.

Techies get good exposure at MoMo events that help them interact with people coming from different companies and backgrounds, imbibing a multi-cultural perspective of the mobile space. Also business concepts get discussed in the unconference apart from technical nitty-gritty. Technology professionals, venture capitalists and investors, journalists, academicians, lawyers, and students attend the MoMo meets. What is discussed depends on the mix of professionals at the meets. “Hyderabad has a good mix of mobile startups, Internet companies and marketing professionals and this ensures a good diversity in audience,” avers Govinda Raj, Founder, MoMo Hyderabad.

Mobiles are a phenomenon in India which has more mobiles than PCs. Hence the need now is to support innovation in the mobile space in India and the India MoMo community is making headway in this direction. “India is one of the largest mobile market in the world hence the opportunities are immense for developers catering to the needs and trends of this market,” opines Varun Krishnan, Founder, MoMo Chennai. “Thus also the need for developers to reach out to each other in the quest to build better products,” he continues.

More interaction is called for because there is not much flow of ideas between the handset manufacturers and service providers (telcos) in India. A lot of potential is there in the industry though people don’t know how to harness that energy and so the situation does not provide a conducive atmosphere for startups. This is where MoMo tries to pitch in. “Recently 15 telco companies have been awarded licenses in India for their operations. They need certain features to differentiate themselves from one another and ‘voice’ cannot be the differentiating factor. Indian mobile tariffs are the lowest in the world and it would be hara-kiri for the companies to lean only on that for support. Therefore, they are hunting for new ideas to differentiate themselves from each other and it makes business sense to outsource the value added services they go in for. This is where startups chip in and can add value to the eco-system,” says Prashant Singh, Co-Founder, MoMo Delhi, on the advantage startups can have at MoMo meets.

Advantages are many at MoMo meets for people in love with mobile technology, and a lucky break on any Monday could be had for furthering innovative ideas and bring it to life. The MoMo duniya beckons.

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