Affle Chairman, Anuj Khanna speaks with e27 on his entrepreneurial journey

Source: e27 | View Original
Affle is an international mobile media company headquartered in Singapore with a focus on the Asian market. It was founded five years ago in 2006 by entrepreneur Anuj Khanna Sohum. The name “Affle” is unique and according to Anuj, was a mash-up of the two words “affordable” and “mobile”. However, now it just serves as a company name- a unique word with no attached meaning otherwise. The people at Affle have a whole range of mobile device products on their portfolio, including the latest *Pinch* MessengerSMS2.0 Live, SMS2.0Affle AdsAffNet,CoufonAffle Youth Xchange and Mobile Magazine.
We had a little chat with Anuj who shared Affle’s story with us.
Anuj started Affle because he was intrigued by the idea of redefining SMS. At that time, he was using both MSN and SMS on his mobile phone and found it counter-intuitive to switch between each. MSN was the more powerful one in terms of features but not everyone owns a smartphone with all that capabilities. It set him thinking. He realised that while phones were improving by leaps and bounds, with new models being released regularly by various mobile phone companies, there was no improvements being made to SMS simply because nobody owns it. It was still 160 characters, plain black and white with punctuations acting as smileys.
Anuj then took on the challenge to change all of that. He wanted to create his own brand of SMS. Everybody that he spoke to said that his idea of redefining SMS was not possible but Anuj had a vision. He said “if everybody is saying it is difficult and if we manage to do it, it will be a real breakthrough”. Affle was started and in 2007, SMS2.0 was available for download.
SMS2.0 offers more functionalities compared to SMS and there is no need to pay more for the service. SMS2.0 messaging was within the SMS protocol, all that is needed is a download. Everything was free. For Anuj and Affle, SMS no longer means Short Message Service, it means “Social Messaging and Search”.
Affle has a unique business model. By providing everything for free, somebody has had to be paying. In Affle’s bid to make media mobile and to create media opportunities on mobile, they adopted advertising as a business model. With the media being subsidised by the advertisers, there is an interaction between the users and the providers, everyone is set to gain. Anuj did note that the advertising business model is not just about putting up advertisments, Affle is careful to consider the level of advertising that consumers would find acceptable.
The latest product that is being offered by Affle is *Pinch* Messenger. It is an extension of SMS2.0 and it aims to make all contacts in our phonebook accessible via one app. If Affle is out to capitalise on the mobile phone screen as a media screen and believes there is big bucks to be made from there, we will keep Affle on our watch and see what other products will be offered in the future.
*Pinch* Messager is available on many platforms including WP7 and e27 would be doing a review on it next week.
Also coming up next week, Anuj shares his experience as a serial entrepreneur and offers some words of advice. Do look out for both articles.