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March - 2008 - issue > Entrepreneurship
Young Technopreneurs with million dollar goals
Christo Jacob
Friday, February 29, 2008
The new breed of India’s young entrepreneurs is all set to take the world by storm. Today they are getting out of the safety cushions of the MNCs and are turning their backs on the array of opportunities in MNCs. Knowing the fact that entrepreneurship is not a cakewalk, the assiduous founders of Mobisy and TringMe plunged into the entrepreneurial world with some innovative ideas to coexist in the market along with the major players.

Unlike the Ambanis or Tatas they did not have a legacy in the game of business. Their thoughts about setting up the startups were born during informal sessions at their workplace. While the founders of Mobisy, Lalit Bhise, CEO, Chhavi Gupta, Director of Ecosystem, Bhupendar Singh, Director of Engineering, and Gurpreet Singh, Director of Engineering were at Infineon
Technologies, they witnessed the country’s mobile subscriber base continuing to explode and the telecom operators preferring to have some mobile VAS players who can offer the full gamut of services. Hence they thought, “Why not be in the driver’s seat within the mobile platform game?”

Recalling his days at Infineon Technlogies Gupta says, “Bhise and our group used to discuss the trends in the mobile space during our ‘smoking sessions’ and get excited about the opportunities in the mobile space.” In a market with 5,000 to 6,000 independent mobile applications (apps) developers Gupta and his friends found that the independent application developers were not getting much opportunity to test their applications. They left Infineon Technologies in 2007 to establish Mobisy, a platform developer.

TringMe’s founder Yusuf Motiwala has a different story to narrate about how he kicked off his entrepreneurial venture. Having had stints in Texas Instruments as program manager and as an architect at Lucent, Motiwala kept observing the attempts of a company called Rippit to connect friends through the Web in early 2006. However, when that company failed to make it, Motiwala accepted that as a challenge and started working on the idea.

Though the basic idea of their products was drawn from the existing players, Mobisy and TringMe made sure that their products were focused to address the niche areas, which the existing players had not addressed yet.

Presently, though the mobile platforms of many players are compatible with the mobile applications developed by the independent mobile application developers, still they are unable to meet the expectations. For instance, the existing platforms like Symbian, Windows, and Open Linux do not support all applications to test on their platforms. By providing a platform to develop applications quickly at par with Web technologies like AJAX, Mobisy’s MobiTop addresses major issues like ‘device incompatibilities’ and ‘Ineffective application delivery platforms’ faced by the application developers.

Today, Mobisy is in the process of foraying ahead to develop the platform for other applications like Windows and Linux, including Android. It is adept at identifying the buzz among customers. However, prior to foraying into different areas, Gupta finds a strong challenge in tracking the customer base. “To gain the confidence among the independent application developers for any platform developer startups, one needs to prove that the application that sits on it works,” say Motiwala.
Using this as a basic strategy to penetrate the market both Mobisy and TringMe developed applications to demonstrate the potentialities of their platforms. While Mobisy developed its Spam Manager, TringMe developed a flash telephony ‘TringPhone’ on its platform called TringSwitch. TringPhone opens up the possibility of using any PC with a flash-capable browser as a VoIP client for making worldwide calls. One can sign up in TringMe and can make a call from GTalk to any location in the world. “Unlike the other players in the space, it needs only a destination number to make a call,” says Motiwala.

There are times when many of us have come across junk calls or marketing calls. Mobisy’s applications come to the aid in this aspect. Its Spam Manager helps to keep the marketing and other junk calls at bay by adding the numbers to the Spam Manager list.

The young entrepreneurs’ quick move in their initial days put them on par with the existing players. While the techies aspiring to be entrepreneurs normally hesitate to plunge into entrepreneurship, these young entrepreneurs went ahead by their gut feeling and the aspiration to build their own companies. Establishing Mobisy involved more than just hard work and it also required all the founders to totally sink their savings. After bootstrapping for almost six months Mobisy recently accepted some amount of angel funding. Even Motiwala took up a similar low cost model strategy to build TringMe. Initially, Motiwala hired a work place for three thousand rupees and kicked off with four part time employees and two full time employees, while he outsourced the website work.

However, even after building innovative solutions and companies, the young entrepreneurs feel insecure. Both Motiwala and Gupta find that there is a sea change in their personal lives. “Though there are causes for stress and tension in one’s struggle for his own venture, I feel proud of the product being used by the society,” says Motiwala. Today Motiwala dreams about ‘tringing worldwide’ with some of the service providers and social networking websites having already expressed interest in using the TringMe platform. Moreover, Motiwala plans to ring every mobile user having a VoIP portable in hand. “Right now only expensive mobile phones have the facility to make VoIP calls. However, we are planning to launch a VoIP based mobile phone for just Rs.600,” says Motiwala.

Similarly, Mobisy too is broadening its MobiTop’s scope by catering to more handsets and aims to democratize mobile handset user interface design by enabling everyone to write and deploy mobile applications. Today, young entrepreneurs like Gupta and his team are not fearful about replicating their open source based platforms. Rather, young entrepreneurs are confident that Mobisy will strongly penetrate the potential customer base. They are confident to go ahead with MobiTop road map with the angel funding and the revenues that have started coming in.

Young startups like Mobisy and TringMe represent the potential of young Indian entrepreneurs trying to fly high. There is a bounty of opportunities waiting for the experienced young techies who want to plunge into entrepreneurial ventures and realize their dreams.

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