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Community > Vivek Steve Francis
Vivek Steve Francis

Vivek Steve Francis

Co-Founder

MobME Wireless Solutions

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Vivek Steve Francis is a member of:

startupcity - Expert
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
If we were to build a Mobile Value Added Services Company again, it
would probably take us two years to achieve what we did in six. But this is
only because of the industry experience over the last six years - we know what
to do, what not to do, whom to meet, whom not to meet, what products work, what
does not, etc.
Three big lessons/ mistakes encountered while building company
In entrepreneurship, there is nothing called mistakes. Starting young
means you are inexperienced. Being inexperienced means you don’t know the
limitations in the system. This means you end up wasting a lot of time
experimenting and learning stuff.But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Not
knowing the limitations or boundaries gets you thinking out of the box. This
makes you extremely innovative – You are passionate about the idea, tend to experiment
with stuff, learning and adapting along the way.
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.

Best company I admire globally

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

Unique about my way of motivating troops

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.

Experience of reaching out to potential investors

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.

Motivation and Drives factor

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.

My role at different dimensions as the company evolved
In a startup, your role is never limited. From Business development to Operations
to Finance to HR, you have to get involved in everything.As the company becomes
mature, your role becomes more of a strategic one – You sell a vision, and you
have trusted team members handling each of these functions - your role would be
limited to coordinating this
As a leader how I make sure that I am connecting the right dots

Just keep following your dreams and
passions. Never give up – in the end, the dots will connect.
Looking back, it will all
make sense.

My thoughts related to entrepreneurship/ leadership and management

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.

Advice for fellow entrepreneurs

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

Risks involved in business and way of addressing

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.

Some of the difficulties faced while building product/ solution

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. 

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