Web startup companies are synonymous with the Silicon Valley due to the trend that has been set over the past decade. This is understandably so, with companies like Google, Cisco, Intel, Sun and a lot other renowned multi-billion dollar companies emerging from the Valley. So, do all successful internet based product companies emerge out of here or is this just an assumption?
InMobi is one of the world’s fastest growing mobile advertising networks that has emerged out of India and has proven that this is definitely a false assumption. Make no mistake; Silicon Valley still holds its charm with the unique advantages that it provides. Yet, there have been instances of successful product companies emerging out of the other geographies as well and InMobi is just the example to dive deeper into the phenomenon.
The usage of mobile in the emerging markets is probably what tipped the scales in favor of InMobi. Firstly, the numbers of mobile penetration are compelling. Mobile penetration has overtaken PC penetration in almost all emerging nations. Since the fixed line infrastructure is bad and unreliable, the ubiquitous mobile forms the obvious substitution. This set up the environment for mobile centric product companies. InMobi leveraged this platform and concentrated on innovation in their vision and technology. This helped create a world class product in a geography where the usage is exploding creating the right blend for success and voila!
Naveen Tewari, CEO and Founder, InMobi, says “India and the emerging markets are the hub of opportunity and potential. The usage is just booming making it the right time for entrepreneurs”. When asked the secret behind the success, he said “It is mandatory to completely understand the usage patterns and trends. That was what we did and realized that mobile ecosystem was the on the verge of a mighty explosion and we wanted to be a part of it. Once we had the idea in place, we needed a business model and that sealed the deal for us. We used the reverse market strategy where the emerging markets formed the development and test base for the Product and then it enters the global markets.” While the internet user base in the US gave Silicon Valley its platform for success, the emerging markets have a mobile user base to provide the fuel for progress.
InMobi was started as MKhoj in 2007 with Mumbai Angels backing it. At that point, the business model aimed at solving the local information problem using SMS based search and worked on SMS based monetization as a revenue model which would eventually morph into an SMS Ad Network. Post that, the team saw the growing potential of the mobile web and the business model was taken back to the drawing board. This was the turning point in InMobi’s life, when the SMS based model was dropped and InMobi took a dive into the mobile web ecosystem. InMobi decided to become a mobile advertising network, where advertisers can display their ads on mobile internet sites. The idea was soon bought into by Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers as well as Sherpalo Ventures and InMobi began its journey into the mobile web and advertising world.
Today, InMobi is a global mobile ad network offering mobile web advertising solutions to its partners. InMobi helps advertisers reach their target consumers as they surf the internet on their mobile phones. InMobi believes in the future of the mobile web, and the power that it can provide publishers, advertisers and consumers. InMobi aims to develop the mobile web industry, and work to provide the highest level of value to advertisers, publishers and their audiences.
InMobi has built a strong network in Asia, Middle East and Africa and has grown into the leader as the largest ad network in Asia. InMobi’s success is rooted in the emerging economies where digital marketing is still at its infancy. This has translated into continued innovation as they deliver ground up solutions for their advertisers while effectively servicing global publishers. InMobi’s innovation has allowed it to successfully deliver industry leading results that have helped it to scale in such a short time.
The quality of InMobi’s network combined with their strong targeting capabilities and proprietary quality assurance technologies have enabled them to deliver both, reach and performance for their advertisers. In turn, InMobi’s large advertiser base, global infrastructure and intelligent ad serving technology allow them to deliver exemplary revenue levels, quality of advertising and ad response times to their publishers. All these coupled with InMobi’s principle of transparency with its customers makes InMobi the most preferred ad network to both advertisers and publishers in these regions.
InMobi has got itself a very strong client list that it flaunts proudly with name like Reebok, Nokia, MakeMyTrip, Yamaha and many more other top brands in the kitty. Their partner publisher list includes names of MocoSpace, eBuddy, friendster, hi5, Rediff, Zedge etc. that have provided InMobi tremendous support achieving the position that they have today.
The potential for mobile internet advertising is only growing. An increasing number of people are using their mobile to stay connected at all times. The need is to tap into this audience and serve relevant ads so that which is of value to them. This is easy to achieve as advanced services like location based services start coming into the picture. Hence, the mobile environment is such that, it can sustain the business they are in and it is really up their capability to be able to provide an edge to all their partners.
InMobi has a strong sales team that is very proficient in keeping up to date with the market needs. InMobi has a unique way in which the sales, marketing and communications team work together to achieve lead generation and eventually converts into clients. With this InMobi has built a strong network in Asia, Middle East and Africa and has grown into the leader as the largest ad network in Asia.
While, InMobi could peg Google (which recently acquired Admob) as their biggest competitors, they also believe that their unique focus and value proposition provides their partners with an advantage that is not available in the market. Their geography focus helps them prioritize and solve real customer needs and increase their value proposition to their partners. InMobi has consistently focused on providing higher quality and monetization levels for their publishers and greater return-on-investment (ROI) for advertisers, many of whom are trying the mobile internet medium for the first time, or for the first time in their region.
Over the past several months InMobi has invested in getting their technology in place and bringing key team members on board to lay the foundation for scaling up the business significantly. Currently, InMobi has presence in 24 countries and is growing at the rate of 40% each month. Moreover it now has the capability to serve over 8 billion impressions a month and is already catering to ad requests totaling to over 5 billion / month. The number of publisher sites that InMobi has tied-up with is more than 2000 with 150+ active advertisers. InMobi has one of the highest levels of customer retention rate that of 75%
Their focus for next plan of action is to continue to be the #1 mobile ad network of choice throughout Asia for both publishers and advertisers. Building the mobile ecosystem from the ground up in Africa is where they see tremendous opportunities. They are also looking forward to attaining in Europe the same kind of scale that we have achieved in Asia and Africa making sure that they continue to operate with the highest level of integrity and a principle of transparency.
InMobi also recently launched in Europe. As a developed nation, Europe poses different challenges and opportunities. Their plan was to grow in these markets as well. Recently, UK entered their list of top 5 countries in terms of traffic proving that their expansion plans are going in the right direction.
The biggest challenge lies in the diversities of all these markets. To be truly successful in mobile advertising, it is mandatory to understand the nuances of every market. Growth, for InMobi, does not stop at just entering the market, but has a lot to do with what and how much value they can provide to their partners. Hence, the launch in a geography needs a lot of their dedicated effort to understand the working of the market so that they can provide their partners the insights that no one else can give. That takes time and effort but, it is well worth that investment if their partners are satisfied. With all this, InMobi is sincerely looking forward to give its competitors a serious run for their money.
– Sujay Parekh