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Building India’s First Billion Dollar Tech Company: InMobi Co-Founder Amit Gupta (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, Feb 13th 2014

Sramana: How many people did you have in the company at that point?

Amit Gupta: We had four co-founders, and then we had 8 people on our support staff. We had a small team, but when you are starting up a company, every expense is very important. When we ran out of cash, we started using our own credit cards to support ourselves. We were lucky to have almost 15 credit cards amongst the four co-founders. That became very handy for us and gave us some oxygen.

During that time, our new platform was finishing its initial development. We started to introduce that platform to our advertisers. We started to take 10% to 20% of whatever orders we received and started to run them on our mobile Internet.

Sramana: So you were running an ad network on mobile network as well?

Amit Gupta: Absolutely. We were working with publishers from the beginning. We started to see 5x to 10x better performance and we felt that this was the future. We ultimately dumped the SMS capabilities so that we could focus only on mobile Internet.

In the 2007 timeframe, we also tried to approach VCs again. However, the VC presence in India at that time was not very strong. In addition to that, nobody understood the mobile Internet in India. We decided to go to Sand Hill Road and meet a few VCs there. We met with KPCB and they needed up investing in us.

Sramana: You had a $500,000 infusion and the company ran out of cash. What did KPCB do with your Mumbai Angels investors? Did they buy them out?

Amit Gupta: No, the angels remained investors. I don’t recall if they participated in Series A, but they were able to keep their investments.

Sramana: How much equity did Mumbai Angles have in the company when KPCB came into the picture?

Amit Gupta: They had what typical seed investors in India get. We were lucky to have a decent valuation at the time of seed funding.

Sramana: How much did you raise in your Series A?

Amit Gupta: We raised $7 million.

Sramana: When you made your pitch to VCs, what was your proposed target audience? Did you raise money based on the Indian market?

Amit Gupta: We proposed that India would be our first market. We wanted to build that network first and then come to the U.S. All of us were very familiar with the U.S. We had studied there, lived there, and we knew that it was the largest market. The VCs actually told us that we were kidding ourselves. They were the ones reminding us that our entire company was based in India and that there were a lot of companies in that space in the U.S. already. That helped us refine our expansion plan. We developed a strategy where our expansion after India would be into the Asian market. That is ultimately the strategy that we used to raise our financing.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Building India's First Billion Dollar Tech Company: InMobi Co-Founder Amit Gupta
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