In 2010, mobile advertising, though already big business globally, was still a niche industry in India. Dippak Khurana, however, was among those who read the tea leaves early. He launched a company, Vserv, with the aim of offering mobile marketing solutions to monetise the medium for both, mobile site publishers as well as mobile app developers. Five years on, it is among the two largest Indian players in the Rs 520 crore mobile advertising industry which, according to Ficci-KPMG report, is set to grow at 48 percent annually.
It started out right, by launching AppWrapper, targeting mobile app developers: This is a plug-and-play software, which allows users to pick and choose advertisements from any mobile advertising network, and not just Vserv’s. But Vserv also put together a set of advertisers for mobile app developers, who get 60 percent of the ad revenues.
As an outsourced advertising sales solution, AppWrapper allows the developers to focus on the app. “Within six months we got advertising requests from 20 countries and witnessed 10 million [advertising] impressions a day. This product enabled giving the app a layer of advertisement without opening the source code. We offered simplicity for developers and quickly built a user base,” says the 42-year-old Khurana.
Vserv has also been collecting data about mobile app users and thereby understanding the mobile consumer’s behaviour patterns. It uses this knowledge to offer targeted advertising solutions, which lead to higher click-rates and better margins. Today, it has access to 500 million unique mobile user profiles globally and 120 million in India. Vserv clocked $27 million (about Rs 175 crore) in revenue in FY2015. The team size has kept pace with growth: From six staffers in 2010, it now has 220.
The person behind it
The entrepreneurial bug bit Khurana early. And his interest is product-neutral. In his last two years studying commerce at Narsee Monjee College of Commerce & Economics in Mumbai, Khurana, along with a friend, sold custom-designed T-shirts with images of the latest rock bands printed on them. After college he moved to Jamshedpur in 1993 to start a poultry business with his uncle. After running it successfully for almost three years, Khurana sold it and moved back to Mumbai to pursue an MBA at his alma mater.
Over a decade of working in various companies—the digital division of Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd, Yahoo! (India) and People Infocom (Mauj)—gave him skills and expertise in the digital and mobile domain. He drew on this to revisit his entrepreneurial instinct in 2010, when he launched Vserv along with his friend (now CTO) Ashay Padwal, with angel funding of Rs 75 lakh from Ajay Adiseshann, founder of Paymate.
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(This story appears in the 18 September, 2015 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)
Way to go, Brother :) Keep it upon Sep 10, 2015
True entrepreneurial achievement by Mr. Dippak and inspiring success, epic story for all budding entrepreneurs.on Sep 9, 2015