InMobi is the first Mobile-only company headquartered and founded in India. The startup boasts of being the largest ad tech company after Google and Facebook. They primarily deal with placing advertisements on mobile devices. Credit for founding this startup goes to four passionate people namely Naveen Tewari, AbhaySinghal, Amit Gupta, and MohitSaxena. They worked and conceptualized the idea against all odds.
A Glimpse of the startup journey – InMobi
InMobi was founded in Mumbai in 2007 as mKhoj, an SMS-based search, and monetization platform. The company’s founder is among the best and brightest but isn’t scared off by entrepreneurial bootstrapping. Manish Tewari graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the prestigious IIT Kanpur in 2000.
While doing his MBA at Harvard, he did a stint in Boston with Charles River Ventures and after graduating, spent a year working with colleagues, in Silicon Valley, on business ideas that ultimately failed. In mid-2006, while on a month-long vacation to India, he started to work on his business plan for SMS mobile search, and persuaded angel investors Sasha Mirchandani and Prashant Choksey to back him.
When that initial concept did not work out, Tewari shifted his business model to his next idea: a mobile advertising network. In 2008, he and his co-founders had 12 credit cards maxed out, then got a lucky break when InMobi raised a VC funding of $7 million from two savvy investors, AjitNazre of Kleiner Perkins and technology industry insider Ram Shriram through his global investment firm, Sherpalo Ventures.
Both joined his board. The major task turned to staff up suitable employees, with the lure of stock options. By the closing of 2008, InMobi had 50 people in four offices, most of them engineers and returnees to India. In 2011, SoftBank Corp of Japan invested $200 million in InMobi which gave rise to India’s first B2B unicorn. In 2016, InMobi becomes a profitable venture.
Business Model of InMobi
InMobi enables consumers to discover amazing products with mobile advertising by providing contextual, relevant, and curated recommendations on mobile apps and devices. It provides a revolutionary discovery platform where developers, merchants & brands can engage mobile consumers globally. Acknowledged as one of the 50 Most Disruptive Companies in the world by MIT Technology Review, InMobi enables over 100 billion discovery sessions, covering about billion subscribers every month, on mobile devices, and becoming the largest discovery platform in the world. InMobi platform presents a beneficial proposition to both Advertisers and Publishers.
If you are a publisher, you can directly connect with a network like InMobi, and don’t worry about the sale of inventory. InMobi’s amazing ad network automatically identifies the best possible ad (with the highest possibility of getting clicked and converted) for an ad request and sends it back to the user via your property with an ad slot placed on it.
You can rest assured that your inventory from across the world, will get monetized without you having to worry about the complexity surrounding your sales. You only focus on your core business (creating content/writing more apps / bringing in more users for your app etc.). While as an advertiser, your ad will reach the target audience (for instance, If you want your game to be advertised to users in India on Airtel 3G network and accessing the web using an iPhone 5S) without any extra effort from your end. Provided that InMobi solves this pain for the publishers and the advertisers, they command a certain revenue cut. That’s how they make money.
About the founder
Manish Tewari, founder, and CEO of InMobi completed his Mechanical Engineering from IIT-Kanpur and an MBA from Harvard. He was a business analyst at McKinsey for a few years before co-founding mKhoj. Naveen has personally invested in and supported several startups including NestAway, Slide Rule, Metti, Moneysights, Bombay Canteen, Zimmber, and Razorpay. He co-founded iSPIRT, a software product advocacy group. He founded the India School Fund, a non-profit organization, which funds and sets up schools in rural India.
He has some tips for young entrepreneurs. As an entrepreneur, one might as well go for something big, because the chances of success going after a small thing versus a big thing are pretty much the same. Secondly, surround yourself with great people and make sure they stay with you. Third, take the risks; if you do not take the risks, you are not going to get to a meaningful place.