Want to start your own company? Before you head off on the long winding road to becoming an entrepreneur, why not gain some insight from a successful entrepreneur.India’s leading newspaper Times of India covered a story on the life and entrepreneurship spirit of our CEO Dippak Khurana.
Here is the complete article published by the Times of India
Dippak Khurana founder, Vserv.Mobi
It’s like he was born with entrepreneurship in his blood. When Dippak Khurana was in his first year of BCom at Narsee Monjee College in Mumbai in 1988, he started making T-shirts with rock band motifs. His father had a textile engineering business in Mumbai and that had given Dippak some exposure to the industry.
He soon became popular in college for the T-shirts. One with a Def Leppard theme, showing a dragon with a snake wrapped around it, became a particularly big rage. He sold 100 pieces of those. They cost him Rs 5,000 to make, and he sold them for Rs 15,000 – a 200% profit.
His father passed away when Dippak, now 39, was still in college, and his father’s partners took over the textile business. At the time, Dippak thought his BCom would lead him towards a CA. But even as he was working towards it, an uncle came with the idea of starting a poultry farm inJamshedpur. He couldn’t resist the idea. He invested money in it, drove the business, harvested 50,000 eggs a day, and learnt to cut a bird.
But it lasted just two and a half years. His mother and sister were finding it tough to live on their own in Mumbai. So in 1995, he sold the poultry business and returned to his hometown. He was keen on starting another venture. “But in Mumbai, the capital requirements were too much,” he says. So he decided to do an MBA to get into the corporate life.
Again, as fate would have it, his MBA entrance exam was postponed, and Dippak happened to see an advertisement for a job opening in a major media company that was looking to start something new in the internet space.
He had had no experience with the internet, but his entrepreneurial background impressed the company and he was hired. That stint with the online space defined the rest of his career.
Over the next 14 years, he worked in multiple companies in the online domain, including Yahoo India and a couple of startups. In 2009, he once again felt the desire to do something on his own.
“I spoke to Ashay Padwal, who had worked with me previously in Yahoo and Mauj (a mobile gaming startup), to join me,” Dippak says. Ashay, a technology professional, was then on a consulting assignment in Chennai.
The two decided to create a mobile ad network, a platform to deliver advertisements on mobile phones. Others like InMobi in Bangalore had done it before.
But InMobi had a global approach, and Dippak thought he could differentiate by focusing on emerging markets where feature phones were predominant, and where the overwhelming dominance of pre-paid users meant that transaction amounts would be small.
Ashay started developing the product when he was in Chennai. In January 2010, he moved to Mumbai when someone offered a small office for Dippak and Ashay to operate in. The same person later also invested in the project. “Ashay and I did not put in any money,” says Dippak.
They called their company Vserv.mobi and their platform quickly became a success. For a developer, it is always a difficult decision between choosing to offer an app for free (and therefore dependent on ads) or as a paid download, since changing from one model to the other always has significant barriers in terms of cost and coding effort.
Vserv.mobi’s product AppWrapper eliminated this barrier, enabling mobile advertising and innovative pricing models on any app, without coding.
“With AppWrapper, it’s also very easy to integrate the ad inside the app,” says Virat Khutal, founder of game designer Twist Mobile Software, which makes money when mobile users click on ads that are shown at the beginning or end of the games it designs.
Vserv.mobi’s ad network delivers ads to the mobile phone based on many parameters, including the user’s location and usage patterns. Vserv.mobi has over 10,000 applications on its network and registers about 18 billion ad impressions each month (ad impressions are the number of times the ads appear before users).
Compared to the nearly 100 billion ad impressions on the InMobi network, Vserv.mobi is still small. But Dippak says the numbers are growing at 20-25% each month. He declines to mention revenues, but says the August revenue was 15 times that in August last year. IDG Ventures invested $3 million in Vserv.mobi in July last year and this year ranked it as the fastest growing company in its portfolio.
“Our next effort will be to deliver video advertisements on our platform,” says Dippak.founder, vserv.mobi