How this Kanpur boy built the first unicorn of India

The story of InMobi, India’s first unicorn, is a tale of vision, perseverance, and entrepreneurial spirit. Founded by Naveen Tewari, a boy from Kanpur, InMobi revolutionized the mobile advertising industry, marking a significant milestone in India’s startup ecosystem.

Identifying the Opportunity:

Naveen Tewari, a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and Harvard Business School, had a promising career in consulting and venture capital. However, he harbored an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to create something impactful. In the mid-2000s, he noticed the rapid proliferation of mobile phones and foresaw the potential of mobile advertising.

Despite the initial challenges and skepticism, Naveen, along with his co-founders Abhay Singhal, Amit Gupta, and Mohit Saxena, was determined to seize this opportunity. They envisioned a platform that would enable businesses to reach mobile users with personalized and relevant advertisements.

The Birth of InMobi:

In 2007, the team founded mKhoj, a mobile search platform. However, the idea did not gain traction as expected. Instead of giving up, the founders pivoted their business model based on market feedback. Recognizing the potential of mobile advertising, they rebranded the company as InMobi in 2008, focusing on delivering innovative and effective mobile advertising solutions.

Overcoming Challenges and Achieving Success:

The journey to building InMobi was not easy. The founders faced numerous challenges, including raising funds, gaining market traction, and competing with established global players. However, their resilience and strategic vision paid off. In 2011, InMobi secured a $200 million investment from SoftBank, which marked a turning point for the company.

InMobi’s success can be attributed to its innovative approach to mobile advertising. The company developed advanced algorithms to deliver highly targeted ads, ensuring better engagement and conversion rates. InMobi’s platform provided advertisers with valuable insights and analytics, helping them optimize their campaigns and achieve better results.

Today, InMobi operates in over 60 countries and serves billions of mobile users worldwide. It has established itself as a leader in the mobile advertising industry, setting a benchmark for Indian startups aspiring to make a global impact.

Takeaways for Future Startups:

  1. Identify and Adapt to Market Opportunities: InMobi’s pivot from a mobile search platform to a mobile advertising company was crucial to its success. Startups should be flexible and willing to adapt their business models based on market needs and feedback.
  2. Embrace Innovation: InMobi’s success was driven by its innovative approach to mobile advertising. Future startups should prioritize innovation and continuously seek ways to improve their products and services.
  3. Stay Resilient in the Face of Challenges: The journey to building InMobi involved overcoming numerous obstacles. Startups should stay resilient, learn from failures, and remain committed to their vision.
  4. Build Strategic Partnerships: InMobi’s strategic partnership with SoftBank provided the necessary resources for growth. Startups should seek out strategic partnerships and investors who can support their long-term goals.
  5. Focus on Customer Value: InMobi’s platform provided valuable insights and results for advertisers. Startups should focus on delivering tangible value to their customers to build trust and loyalty.

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