Source: bizxchange | View Original
At Affle, Anuj Kumar connected mobile technology with marketing objectives and helped the company grow stupendously. This Singapore-based mobile media innovations company has operations in India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and the US.
Anuj has played an important role in building close alignments with telecom operators and handset manufacturers in creating newer advertising avenues on the mobile platform.
In a recent interaction with Mr Kumar, Bizxchange goes beyond his dream of making Affle one of the leading mobile messaging and advertising companies. His story further motivates thousands of other promising entrepreneurs.
What prompted you to launch a mobile media firm?
Despite the growth in the number of mobile phone users, the use of the devices was restricted to calling and messaging for a long time. We wanted to take the mobile phone beyond communication and witnessed enormous potential in the use of mobile media as an effective and highly efficient marketing tool. We set up Affle in Singapore in February 2006 to develop mobile media and marketing solutions by leveraging cutting-edge technologies.
What is the company’s line of business? Why did you name the company ‘Affle’?
Affle develops enhanced mobile messaging products and create effective mobile advertising solutions. We have partnered with telecom operators and handset makers to leverage their strengths and reach out to as many users as possible.
We wanted to make mobility affordable through advertising and hence coined the name Affle, which means ‘affordable mobile’.
What was your initial focus? Any plans to diversify focus in the near future?
Our focus has remained constant from Day-1. We focussed on building innovative mobile messaging products and also looked at blending media content with mobile messaging.
We do not have any plans to diversify our focus. The reason being both mobile messaging and mobile advertising offers robust opportunities for growth.
Did you face any major hurdle in the early years? If so, how did you overcome it?
I would not like to term the early difficulties as hurdles. Such obstacles are there in every business and it tests an entrepreneur’s perseverance to rise above such stumbling blocks.
Having said this, I would like to mention that raising the initial working capital was a tough task. We were fortunate enough to earn the trust of some like-minded partners, which include global leaders such as Microsoft, ITOCHU, Bennett Coleman Company Ltd (BCCL) and Centurion Private Equity.
What has been the major turning point for Affle?
The major turning point has been the launching of our business operation in India. Initially, we were sceptical about how the India launch would shape up, but we posted a growth rate of over 100% here in the initial years.
What is the outlook for mobile media and marketing in India?
Mobile media and marketing is growing rapidly in India. A number of external factors such as changing consumer behaviour, availability of feature-rich handsets at affordable prices, cheaper tariff schemes for mobile Internet and 3G roll outs are driving mobile content consumption in the country. The greater the content consumption, the more is the opportunity for mobile advertising.
What is keeping the company busy at present?
At present, we are concentrating on product innovation for both entry level and high-end phones. We have recently launched a mobile messaging product named Pinch, which helps users to chat with their friends, share status updates and much more, without any payment.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Start-ups are very enthused in initially, but their level of excitement drops as their business fails to give them good returns. Some even land up closing the business. My advice would be to give your full from the beginning and fight out the initial odds with courage and perseverance.