Believing that "to beat the herd and build one's own destiny, one must not stray away from hard work", two likeminded people Anuj Khanna Sohum and Anuj Kumar came together to lay the first stone of Affle in 2006 and in a short time turned it into a global
Believing that "to beat the herd and build one's own destiny, one must not stray away from hard work", two likeminded people Anuj Khanna Sohum and Anuj Kumar came together to lay the first stone of Affle in 2006 and in a short time turned it into a global success. While Khanna was not available, we caught hold of Kumar, the CEO and the Co-Founder who talks about the serious business of mobile technology and its implication in enhancing the customer experience, their plans for the future and much more.
Seema Seth(SS): What is the name of your company? What is the product and services?
Anuj Kumar(AK): Affle is one of the largest mobile technology innovation and mobile advertising companies in Asia. Our top products include exciting mobile messaging products like Pinch & SMS2.0 and mobile content/advertising products like AffleAds, Affnet, AYX etc.
SS: Who are your partners?
AK: Affle has strong partnerships with leading mobile carriers, handset makers, content publishers, media agencies, and advertisers across geographies. All of these are critical stakeholders in the unique mobile media ecosystem created by Affle.
Key partners for Affle in India include Airtel, TATA, Reliance, Idea, ESPN STAR, GroupM, OMD and several large advertisers amongst many others.
SS: How did you fund the venture?
AK: We started by being privately funded. However, we soon realised that to achieve the kind of ambitions we have, we would need external capital to fund our significant R&D investments. Till date, Affle has received funding from prestigious & leading strategic investors including Microsoft, Itochu Corp of Japan, D2 Communications (JV between NTT DoCoMo & Dentsu), Bennett Coleman Company Limited (BCCL) of India & Centurion Private Equity.
SS: Who are your target consumers?
AK: Affle believes in creating mobile products which consumers love to use. Affle products and technologies are around mobile social messaging, for which the prime audience is the youth, and platforms and services that best leverage mobile advertising for publishers & carriers.
SS: What is the price range?
AK: Affle believes in providing its mobile technology innovations free to users. Given the exciting business models we create for partners, even a free product creates revenues for them by being ad funded. Making the products free helps us reach out to more number of users who could now enhance their mobile experience with Affle’s unique technologies.
SS: What are your expansion plans?
AK: Affle has ambitions of being one of the most dominant mobile company in the world. Affle till date has achieved significant success in Asian markets like India, Indonesia and others where we have over 20Mn users who have downloaded our products. We are working towards scaling up our operations in these key markets as we believe that Asia is where most innovation, service adoption and monetisation would most happen on mobiles. We are also in process of launching some of our newer products like Pinch in USA & Europe as we see them as large markets for our innovations.
SS: What are your marketing and promotional strategies?
AK: Our marketing approach is very partner oriented. Our strength lies around creating exciting business model for partners who thus end up promoting our products. These partners could include telecom carriers, handset makers, media companies or others. Once our products are seeded in the market through partner efforts, we have seen maximum scaling up happening through user virals. We thus spend a lot of efforts in adding variability in our products as that helps us reach out to more users through existing happy users.
SS: What has your last turnover been?
AK: We have grown at over 50 per cent year on year, have added almost 30 per cent more people, consolidated our senior management team, our flagship product SMS2.0Live has touched over 20 million downloads, added Telkomsel to our list of telocos with over 100 million subscribers and so on. Being a privately held company we are not at the liberty of sharing our turnover figures.
SS: What is the USP of your products?
AK: Affle creates products and technologies which are driven by the needs of the user. We believe that the user is the most important part of our eco-system and if our technologies appeal to him, our business would appeal to our partners. Moreover, Affle's technologies are not only about delivering relevant and contextual information to the consumer, but much more about creating a great experience, and this, we believe, is the USP of Affle’s products and solutions.
We have till date built a rich portfolio of intellectual property and patents that continue to grow in the areas of Mobile Messaging, Mobile Advertising, Mobile Content delivery, Mobile Search & Mobile Commerce. These unique technologies have thus helped us build products which have appeal for both the user and the business stakeholders.
SS: Who are your competitors?
AK: Affle’s products and services are quite diverse and unique and we have different competitors in different lines of our business. However, from an overall perspective we do not see anyone in direct competition with Affle.
SS: What’s your favourite leisure activity when not working?
AK: I love travelling and experimenting with local cuisines during my travels. My work gives me a lot of opportunities to travel which is great. Even though these trips are usually quite hectic, I try and take out time to absorb the local culture and enjoy some good local food. On vacations, relaxing on a beach is one of my favourite getaways.
SS: Who influenced you to be where you are today?
AK: I have admired a lot of successful people who have always inspired me to work hard to achieve my goals. However, my biggest support and influence has been my family, as I truly value the time spent with them.