India Now - page 47

engagement, multiplying our scale and
building a world-class talent base.”
Ad and user experiences are counted
as vital for the success of mobile adver-
tising and Tewari will continue to invest
in that area, though the focus on data
remains core to his strategy. Like other
digital advertisers, he too is getting
used to buying programmatically in the
online world, and their expectation—
the ability to seamlessly, efficiently
and transparently buy audiences and
impressions, remains the same as they
move to mobile.
Flexi Work Culture
While Tewari forged partnerships and
was quick to make his presence felt in
various geographies, he has managed
to connect with his employees in a nice
sort of manner. A flat structure backed
by an unconventional office space has
added to this outlook. For instance,
group collaborations happen in the
cafeteria, which has been designed
while keeping in mind the company’s
open and transparent culture. “InMobi
too was a startup at some point. In this
regard, we truly understand and sup-
port employees who are discovering the
entrepreneur in them,” he says. It’s this
understanding which has resulted in
a unique work culture that can best be
described as encouraging risk-taking,
respecting failure and a strong profes-
sional network.
Somewhere this vision aligns with
his career graph. After a degree from
IIT Kanpur, Tewari did his MBA from
Harvard Business School (HBS) and
worked his way up the corporate ladder,
beginning with McKinsey & Company
and then moving on to the VC firm
Charles River Ventures (CRV). He was
then bitten by the entrepreneurial bug
and took his first tentative steps as an
entrepreneur by setting up MKhoj, a
company focussed on SMS-based search
service in 2007. Tewari began MKhoj
in a flat in Mumbai and was quick to
realise that the business model did not
scale as expected. That’s when he went
back to the drawing board to rethink
the business model and saw the huge
potential that the mobile web offered. In
2009, MKhoj was rebranded as InMobi,
a mobile advertising network. This idea
was eventually backed by Kleiner Per-
kins Caufield and Byers as well as Sher-
palo Ventures. Later, SoftBank came on
board with a significant investment of
US$ 200 million.
A Sunrise Sector
India has more than 250 million inter-
net users of which over 90 per cent
are mobile. This critical mass is reason
enough for mobile advertisers to beef
up their sales through their app stores.
“InMobi was early, and has built a huge
base across key markets (a billion devic-
es) and monetised it for ads let by
data/analytics. But now there’s competi-
tion. Still, the huge base gives InMobi an
edge for data and analytics and targeted
advertising,” says Prasanto Roy, technol-
ogy evangelist and editorial advisor to
CyberMedia and adds, “Though other
India startups like FlipKart/SnapDeal/
Ola may have gone past InMobi in size,
its focus and potential profitability keeps
it in a strong position.”
Arguably the most ideal way to shop is
to reach out to the shopping cart on the
mobile. Customer engagement and cus-
tomer interaction are key parameters to
take this forward. No doubt the mobile
screen is recognised as an ideal platform
for placing ads, but then most devices
are approximately not more than five
inches, and this needs to be addressed.
“Mobile internet brings a fair share of
roadblocks. Many of these mobiles don’t
use all apps except a few light anchor
ones like WhatsApp and Facebook for
every phone,” adds Roy.
While mobile apps have changed
the way we look at things, the app eco-
system itself brings along a fair set of
challenges. The most obvious one is to
do with app discovery. Notwithstanding
that, app developers have realised that
to stand out in a clutter is to do more
with less. Mobile advertising is evolving
rapidly and it will continue to evolve in
ways that are very difficult to anticipate.
Advertising in the future is expected to
be driven by companies that can make
sense of the enormous volumes of
data generated from the use of mobile
devices. “Companies that can leverage
this data to develop a keen understand-
ing of user behaviour including predict-
ing what a consumer is going to do the
next day, the next hour and even the
next minute will remain key. Businesses
that can develop such intelligence will
then be able to offer choices to consum-
ers that are most appropriate for that
moment in the consumer’s life,” sums
up Tewari. While the environment is
extremely dynamic and challenging for
these very reasons, InMobi seems to be
well set for the long haul.
“We are
in 2015 with
innovations in
products and
Naveen Tewari
Founder & CEO, InMobi
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