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November 09, 2011

Naveen Tewari of InMobi on SoftBank and Ram Shriram

Extract from The Economic Times profile of the mobile advertising company made famous by the recent $200 million investment that it attracted from SoftBank:
On Raising Funds From Ram Shriram. There was a phase when credit cards of the entire founding team were used to just pay salaries! With little success in raising funds from sceptic Indian investors, I decided to take a flight to Silicon Valley, where our venture received positive response. Everyone believed in the power of the mobile internet. I was introduced to Ram Shriram and I was really looking at it as a once in a lifetime experience more than anything else. About 20 minutes into the presentation, Ram suddenly got up and said “Close the presentation, we are funding this. What is the execution plan?” I was in a state of shock not only because of his reaction but also because there was no execution plan to show him at that stage whatsoever.

On InMobi's International Expansion. As we evaluated the market, we soon realised that while there was some activity in the mobile advertising industry in the US, the rest of the world was primarily a virgin market! We saw that emerging geographies like Indonesia, South Africa and Malaysia are relatively untapped and hence we trusted our conviction and set up in these geographies. Lot of people criticised us for this, but we saw the results almost instantly. We have now set up offices in over 15 countries and have set up a completely decentralised model with regional headquarters across the world.

On the SoftBank Deal and the Journey Ahead
We’ve been looking to raise private equity for over six months now and what struck us as soon as we met with the SoftBank team was how well they understood the mobile internet market. This gave us the confidence to partner with them. With this new fund infusion we are looking to expand our reach in developed markets like the US and Europe, we are also looking to expand to new geographies like South America. We also realise that it’s important for us to innovate with new products, one product we’ve recently launched is ‘Smart Pay’, a payment gateway for mobile app developers; we will be announcing a number of other new products over the next six months.

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