Everybody is aware that technology is currently ruling the world and is affecting people in their daily lives in one way or the other. Technology is also a thing that has modernised the civilization such as social media, where people can connect to various other users across the world.
The era where technology is booming, TechStory spoke to Shailesh Nalawadi, co-founder of Gigato – a mobile start-up which aims to lower the cost of mobile data allowing users to access internet through their smartphones.
What inspired you to start Gigato?
The main reason that I started Gigato is that there are interesting business model that help to bring down the cost of mobile date and get more people online, especially in India is probably the but yet not enough time thinking about the cost coming online, so that’s what really Gigato is all about; what can we do to bring down the cost, who can potentially subsidise the cost of data and how can we use that so that people can possibly afford so that they can use mobile data.
Since this business model is a unique one, what was the initial reaction when you discussed this with your family/friends/network?
Most people with whom I discussed about the work model informed that this is very important need in the market, at least from a social good perspective. Anything that bring down the cost of mobile data and bring more people online is unambiguously a good thing! The basic question was who is going to pay for the subsidy? We wanted to create something that did not involve government projects. We wanted to do something which is actually for profit. The question that was asked frequently was if I really through that advertisers or banks or other mobile apps will pay for this or not. Most of them believed that the idea was a good one and that it might work.
Another thing that few people through that it was very analogous to toll-free numbers. People compared it to toll-free number and the work model is a kind of toll free number is mobile apps. In that way, most people understood the concept and through it was really clever way of bringing the cost of data down and some of the add-ons could sponsor mobile data consumption. Most of the feedback which we received was positive and the question like how large the market is was revolving around. People appreciated that the concept is a good idea and it is something that needed to be done.
How does Gigato generate revenue? What is the marketing strategy?
We generate revenue by charging mobile apps who wish to sponsor data credits to consumers. Gigato charges them a license fee for our platform. In terms of marketing, we follow all the traditions of consumer internet, we create awareness and we talk to our happy customers and we get them to recommend us to others and so on.
(During the inception) Who were your competitors and what strategy have you used to disrupt their market?
It depends on how you define the competitor and how you define the market. Ultimately, market can be broad as any ISP, or it can be as narrow as how many other start-ups are involved in creating subsidised mobile data plan and out thinking was, if we could figure out the way to get others to pay for your mobile data consumption, and that will and that will create some opportunity and potentially some disruption in the market. I wouldn’t really think of who is our competitor, we started of keeping in mind as to how can we serve our consumers and create subsidised data plan.
How do you think Gigato can beat the competition?
First of all I don’t think about getting to beat-in the competition. Defining our mission : is how to get the cost of mobile data down and there are lot of companies that address in working about the same, whether it is mobile data operators or whether it is ISP or company’s like Facebook’s free basics and some of other project like Google’s project loon – which brings internet access to remote places. Both these companies are trying to figure out how to make mobile data more affordable. I think what makes us different is that we are taking a slight unique approach form these large companies. A lot of their approach involves technology, satellite, flying drones among others.
We think from the revenue model, i.e. to achieve more sustainable and quicker way to achieve same results. I wouldn’t say that we are actually going to beat the competition, I do think that our approach allows us to go through market much faster than some those with very heavy approaches being deployed by some of the companies such as mentioned above.
What is your current vision for Gigato? How have you communicated that vision?
The concrete vision is to create a platform that is used by millions of users and is actually able to give them a large amount of free mobile data on a monthly basis and this makes us to realise our vision. Once you know where you want to go, you know that there are milestones away. It is about putting good theme in place that understand milestones that is required to achieve the goal and place a team that executes accurately using the right technology.
We are also looking forward in growing the sales organization to understand how important is is to have successful customers and we make sure that we serve customers with required values that they are also looking for. Applying these above techniques I believe we can grow in a reasonable manner and will be easy to succeed.
What were the characteristics that led to success? How far are you willing to go to see your idea succeed?
Many start-ups in the market is usually never about the idea or concept. Most of the time, the success of ventures in India tends to be about the ability to execute, ability to read what the market is telling you and adjust your offering according to it and the ability to against against the setback if things go the way that is not anticipated. At present, we are completely focused on execution. Though the idea is interesting, however that is not where most of the risk is.
It depends on how the team works in order to execute, improving the technology that creates value for our customers, identifying enough customers so that we can turn into reasonable revenue quickly are the primary things that occupy us and spend most of our time.
What are the future implications of the technology you are developing?
We can witness about 400-500 million users, using smartphones to access information through internet. Our goal is to connect society in India, be it remote locations or any other major cities through internet so that people can get online and find the information that they need without paying much for the data consumption.
We are trying to achieve two milestones. One is to achieve users in really large numbers of about half a million to million users and the second is to create happy customer who use our mobile data credits.