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March - 2008 - issue > Editor's Desk
The Montrepreneurs
Pradeep Shankar
Friday, March 7, 2008
If you were tracking the developments in the Indian entrepreneurial space, you would no doubt see an emergence of new class of entrepreneurs — those focused on the mobile space. In almost every spectrum of the mobile landscape —from SMS based services to value added services, location based services to M-commerce to mobile gaming, this new tribe of entrepreneurs are busy building what they think is the “next killer app” for the mobile world.

They are all amazed with the opportunity that lies ahead. The market for value-added services (VAS) has strong growth potential in India where telecom players are grappling with falling realizations (ARPUs) and looking to generate higher revenues from subscribers. Testimony to this fact is the recent successful IPO of OnMobile, a telecom VAS provider.

The neo-entrepreneurs need to understand that technology is just a piece of this game. Here the bigger piece is to understand customer usage patterns, micro-segment the market and build specific VAS applications. However, the bigger challenge would be building the relationships with operators to roll out the VAS applications.

The relationships on the operator side becomes much more crucial when building platform or system companies, which currently are missing in the Indian mobile landscape. For instance, Startent Networks or DiVitas Networks, which were established in the U.S., were able to make an impression in this space as their management team comprised of people with years of experience on the operator side. The founders themselves worked in carriers like Verizon. Such a phenomenon should start happening here too. When senior technology professionals working in Bharti or Reliance or MTNL start seeing opportunity to be addressed, a new wave of montrepreneurs will begin to emerge in the mobile arena.

Going by the example of Starent or DiVitas, when the management team is rich with professionals from the operator side, it also becomes easy to execute their global strategy.
When the real montrepreneurs emerge in India, they will have appetite to take on the world, for, winning in India is a gold standard for winning elsewhere in the world.
Please do share with us your thoughts on the future of the mobile landscape.

Pradeep Shankar

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