Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Amit Gupta, Co Founder & President at InMobi

Published

on

Amit is one of the Co-Founders of InMobi and is currently based in the San Francisco office. After running the Revenue and Operations function for many years globally, he has taken up the responsibility to grow InMobi’s dominance and market share in North America region. Amit is also leading an ambitious initiative for InMobi which has potential to change the world of advertising and can also create multi-billion dollar business for InMobi.

Post his graduation, Amit chose to stray away from the conventional low risk approach of working with large companies and decided to opt for a career with startups to fulfill his desire to learn a few tricks on running a business. The passion of entrepreneurship really took over him within a few years and he founded a product company called Analyticsworks that created a business intelligence platform focused on media, retail and commerce. Post this, Amit was fascinated by the exponential growth of mobile phones and believed strongly that this device would bring fundamental changes to the world and thus embarked on the journey to start InMobi.

Outside of InMobi, Amit has been playing an active part in building a vibrant startup ecosystem. He is an angel investor and also advises young entrepreneurs on the various aspects of running a startup.

Amit has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Amit got prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award for his exceptional contributions to Entrepreneurship.

 

In your own words what is Inmobi?

InMobi is synonymous to innovation and disruption in the mobile advertising space. Among others, InMobi has been recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the 50 Most Disruptive Companies. It has revolutionized the industry by reimagining advertising to make consumers fall in love with ads. Miip, is our reimagined discovery platform that opens up a world of possibilities for mobile consumers. It enables discovery of highly relevant and curated products by reimagining advertising for a destination-less world. Miip delivers interactive and visually rich experiences to rivet consumer attention across a multitude of apps.

Based out of India, InMobi is a global company with 27 offices across 16 countries and a reach of 1.4 billion unique users across 200 countries and territories. Our USP is our people and our culture that we lovingly call YaWiO. Infact our culture, YaWiO has gone open sourced for other start-ups.

 

How did you come up with the idea of Inmobi?

The passion to build a global mobile-first business, based out of India got all four of us (Naveen, Abhay, Mohit and I) together. The industry was clear to us but with no precedence in India, we were treading the path not taken. We started with the idea of a sms based mobile search engine business called mKhoj. The idea was great but it was not what people were looking for. One year into the business with no funds left, we realized we had to change our offering and very soon. That’s when we came up with the idea of InMobi our mobile advertising business.

 

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Inmobi?

People say that we were very clear from the beginning on what exactly we wanted to do, but it wasn’t the case at all. We knew that mobile is going to be BIG and will be a global phenomenon. We explored various opportunities their associated pain points and found that advertising will be a crucial aspect for mobile as a medium to get high penetration. And we jumped on it. From day one of the company, the consistent theme has been global mobile advertising. We moved from doing advertising on SMS as mKhoj to mobile web and now on apps as InMobi. It was just an evolution with the changing ecosystem around us.

 

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup and if so, how did you guys overcome it?

While early bird catches the worm, it has no precedence to follow but its own instincts. Likewise, we were the first in the industry and hence faced our own set of teething problems. When we went hiring we realized that there were no trained people in the skill-set that we were looking for. We decided to hire people based on their attitude and ambition. That by the way was the stepping stone of our culture – YaWiO. Another instance that I can share is of deciding to enter China. Yet again, we were the first to do so in our industry. While we saw people taking the easier route of getting into a JV or so, we took the risk of entering China independently. It not only saved us time, but also ensured that we had sound infrastructure aligned to their requirements which in the long run is always beneficial. In fact in China we work as a Chinese company. We have a local team that understands the local nuances and we trust them with their decisions. Today, we are leading in the China market.

 

How have you been developing Inmobi since startup ?

Since the beginning we believed in the power of teamwork as you can’t build a successful business without it. We believe in finding passionate people who can take ownership with accountability and work towards the organization goal hand in hand. Our “GloCal” approach has helped us in building many regional teams where we hired from the respective countries and trusted them. This has helped us not only in bringing the trust with the local customers but also for us to understand their culture and opportunity better.

 

What kind of feedback did you get for Inmobi so far?

When you enjoy your work and put your heart and soul into it, the results show. InMobi has not only been recognized as 50 Most Disruptive Companies by MIT Technology Review, it has also received, Outstanding Startup of the year award by Forbes India Leadership Award, 2014. It was identified as the ‘Mobile Top 50’ in The Drum, 2013. And most recently InMobi received the 2015 Global Smarties™ Awards from Mobile Marketing Association, got recognized as 25 most promising BIG DATA solution providers by the APAC CIO Outlook Magazine 2015 and received The Sparks Award for Media Excellence in 2015.

 

 

 

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry? What is your strategy against your competition?

Our competition is with Facebook and Google and our strategy is very simple – never stop, just keep innovating and disrupting. With our recent innovation of Miip we already are ahead by leaps and bounds in innovation from them and we will continue to be so.

 

What can you tell us about the industry? Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

The industry is very easy to enter but to sustain and spearhead the same you have to follow the mantra of creating IP, creating your own platform and just keep on innovating and disrupting.

 

What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

Sky is the limit for this industry which is already 600 billion USD worth. We only see it growing leaps and bounds.

 

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

Yes, most of them were related to hiring decisions. In the beginning we didn’t know the trade off between passion and someone having business contacts. A couple of senior hiring were made on the assumption that our business will take off because of someone’s Rolodex. Without product knowledge and genuine excitement about our space led to no tangible results. Now we have mastered the art of spotting the right talent.

 

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia? Is it harder or easier, why?

No matter where you are entrepreneurship is not easy. But it does make you a better person. You learn to fail, you learn to succeed, you learn to trust, and you learn to be grounded. It is very simple – as an entrepreneur you just need to pick a problem and solve them one at a time till you succeed.

 

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

Nothing different fundamentally except for the difference in “infrastructure” for doing business. Countries like US has ecosystem of VCs, suitable policies, social setup and certainly a high concentration of people who are willing to work for startups. Asian countries in contrast have a lot of unsolved problems which are opportunities for entrepreneurs.

 

What is your definition of success?

If we can make the world and our society better with our work, then I call it success.

 

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurship is a spirit, it’s about someone enjoying solving tough problems in an environment which is changing and challenging both. Most of my professional journey was working with startups, so for me it was just taking bit more risk, start on my own.

 

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

Never give up! Failure is inevitable but if you keep going, so is success.

 

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Just believe in your dream. If you are passionate about it and are willing to work hard and go that extra mile when you want to give up the most, your dream will get materialized. Remember that Rome was not built in a day. Do not fear from failure as it will help you learn more. So never give up and just keep doing what you love.

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist

Published

on

(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by TheNextWeb.com as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taravelis/

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

Published

on

Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Trending