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Mobiporter: An IITian's dream venture

Last updated on: October 7, 2009 15:29 IST

Image: Deepak Singh Rathore.
Manu A B

A small town boy, Deepak Singh Rathore never thought he would become an entrepreneur one day. However, as a kid, he always loved to experiment with new things and learn more.

A love for mathematics and engineering brought him to the country's best institution: the Indian Institute of Technology. He sailed through the tough IIT-JEE entrance examination. Being among the first 100 to get selected to the IIT, Deepak was overjoyed.

It was the turning point in his life. "IIT was an eye-opener, a window to the world," Deepak gushes. After graduating from the IIT, he wanted to start his own company but there were too many hurdles so he had to give up.

He took up a job, but four years later, he quit. "I had to change track and do what I always wanted to do. I wanted to start my own venture. The opposition from my family was the biggest hurdle. It took me a lot of time to convince my parents about what I really wanted to do," says Deepak.

But he eventually in 2008, he co-founded Mobiporter Solutions, a mobile and IT solutions company, along with his friends Chetan Kumar and Dheeraj Jain.

"We started with our meagre savings of about Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) for this dream project," says Deepak. But what's most noteworthy is that in a year's time they managed to breakeven. With the rise in mobile application business, the demand for products developed by Mobiporter is set to zoom.

In five years, Deepak hopes to garner huge revenues and employ over 1,000 people.

"Money is not my prime focus. We plan to build cost-effective WAP solutions for travel, entertainment, media, IT, retail and advertising sectors. My profit in five years would exceed Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) if things work out as planned," he says confidently.

Work is the biggest passion for this 27-year-old. An avid biker and a guitarist, Deepak is enjoying every moment of fulfilling his dream.

"The mobile phone will be the most exclusive device to make major technological advances as it is most used gadget across all segments of people," Deepak explains.

Does he have any fears? "Initially, I used to be scared, but I realised it is worth all the risks and am living life to the fullest. We have created many applications with scarce resources, there is no limit to what we can achieve once we have the finance, infrastructure and right people in place," says Deepak.

Read on to find out Deepak's experience of starting a company and how he plans to make it big. . .

Mobiporter: An IITian's dream venture

Image: The core team: Chetan Kumar, Deepak Rathore and Dheeraj Jain (L to R).

Tell us more about how you became an entrepreneur. . .

Chetan and I have been together since our college days. Both of us were passionate about starting a venture on our own. But after graduation, we couldn't get enough support for our product.

We created an automated library management system. But we could not succeed with this. So we took up jobs, did well but the zest to do something more productive remained alive.

We met Dheeraj who was also passionate about working on unique ideas. So, finally after keeping a job for four years, we decided to quit and pursue our dream. We decided to develop cost-effective mobile solutions for various sectors.

What kind of hurdles did you face?

My parents were dead against me becoming an entrepreneur. They did not want me to jump into an uncertain world since I was well settled with a good salary. It was so difficult to convince them.

How did you manage the finance? Do you have any support from VCs?

We invested about Rs 10 lakh from our own savings. It was difficult to convince people to join us. So we hired freshers. We are not going for VC funding at the moment. We may have to that at a later stage.

Mobiporter: An IITian's dream venture

Image: An exciting job for Deepak.
Why did you decide to focus on mobile solutions?

Mobile is the 'next big thing' in terms of technology. The best way to reach the masses and the classes will be through mobile phones. However, the biggest problem for mobile solutions is the lack of standardisation. What is suitable for one phone may not work in other models.

So we have developed a system called content adaptation system (CAS). It can adjust the content according to any handset model. We are also planning to launch live video streaming on mobiles. The solutions we offer are very cost-effective compared to the products that are available.

What kind of solutions do you offer?

Our innovative solutions cater to various sectors like travel, entertainment, media, advertising, retail sector, etc. We have developed a software to carry out online surveys on mobile phones. For travel industry, we offer search, plan, booking system and hotel reservation.

We offer solutions for schedule management and remote check-in for airlines and hotel reservations. For restaurants, we have an out-of-the-box WAP solution for the order bookings. Restaurants can use the mobile as a channel for booking orders.

The best method for advertising would be to reach everyone and mobile is the perfect medium. We also have applications to search, and book movie tickets or rent movies.

We offer applications for location specific solutions, an online newspaper, magazine, blogs etc for mobiles. All these are simple, and efficient ways to get things done. We are building a retail solution, which will be launched next month. This will offer customers a unique shopping experience, they will get information on their mobile phones on what they want, the best deals and the products available when they go to a super market.

Our aim is to build solutions that will satisfy the requirements of the market. We also plan to launch an automated online education system in association with WWEAS to handle all the work flows in the education system. We are planning to file a patent for this application.

Mobiporter: An IITian's dream venture

Image: Deepak at work.
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

I can work out my ideas according to my wish. I can build something that I can be proud of. A job will not give me the freedom that I enjoy now in terms of value creation. The challenge it brings makes the job very exciting. It is a great learning process. You can fit in to number of roles.

Do you take a salary now?

The salary is just the bare minimum to pay off my liabilities like a car, home loan, etc. The returns we get are put back into the business.

How has the IIT helped you in becoming an entrepreneur?

IIT has transformed my identity. IIT broadens your vision and gives you a lot of exposure. I could participate in sports, dramatics, cultural programmes at IIT. We organised a cultural fest called 'Rendezvous'. It gave me a good idea of how to organise things. It was great working as a team and making a great event happen. All these experiences have helped me a lot.

Mobiporter: An IITian's dream venture

Image: Deepak chalks out his work plan.
What kind of trends do you foresee in the mobile space?

The mobile phone will be the sole piece to make major technological advances. It is the most used gadget across all segments of people. Everything that we use the desktop for today will converge to the mobile.

It is also the equipment, which is closest to all our sense organs. It can capture the real experience of a user.

Technology will thus work towards making the difference between the virtual world and the real world minimalist.

There are several categories of people. People who are living backward by 50 years, 20 years, 10 years and we also have a set of people who are in tune with technologies that exist.

The mobile is the only device that unites all the categories of people. A business model to connect with all these people across a common device will make a big difference.

How would you rate your performance so far?

I would give myself an 8 on 10. With minimum resources we have build a system worth over Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million). The challenge, however, is to scale up operations, convert technical expertise into building products with great market value.

What are the five things entrepreneurs must have?

  • A great team and the ability to work in a team.
  • Unified vision.
  • Innovation.
  • Good relations with the industry.
  • Right people.

Mobiporter: An IITian's dream venture

Image: Deepak discusses his plans with Dheeraj.
Why don't we have more product development in India? Most IITians prefer to abroad than work in India. Why is it so?

It is mostly because many of us want to enjoy all the luxuries in life. We need to have a good balance of both services and products. It will happen, many of the IIT-ians who went abroad are coming back now. There needs to be a societal change.

Since many people belong to the middle class, they aspire for many luxuries in life. This trend is changing now with many professionals coming back to India and exploring good opportunities here.

Being under the British rule for ages, we have not developed our manufacturing capabilities. Colonial rule made us subservient. But it will change in the years to come.

How can India have more entrepreneurs?

The government should offer more encouragement and support. A support base to get over the initial hiccup is very essential for any entrepreneur. The attitude towards entrepreneurs should change. There is so much pressure from family not to venture into entrepreneurship. The attitude of the society needs to change.