TechCrunch just broke the story of Chennai, India-based Innovation Labs, maker of autism app Avaz, getting funded by Mumbai Angels and Inventus Capital. The company, led by Ajit Narayanan, has been in the 1M/1M program for the last three years, and has pivoted from being a device and services company to an app venture. Ajit himself has many awards to his name, not the least of which is a Technology Review 35 under 35, as well as a TED talk explaining FreeSpeech, a visual communication language that is a core innovation from the company.
We are thrilled for many reasons.
First, this gives India’s ‘technology product’ story a great boost. We’ve been covering this story since 2005, and have profiled many of the leaders of the movement. We’ve also nurtured and continue to nurture many Indian product companies within the 1M/1M eco-system. We believe in this story. Avaz / Innovation Labs reinforces the story. Just as we celebrate InMobi inching its way towards becoming India’s first billion dollar global tech company fueling the mobile ad revolution, we celebrate all the newer players like Avaz that may well become a major force in the global mobile app revolution. In fact, InMobi founder Amit Gupta is super-excited about India’s potential in the app domain.
Second, this company goes beyond apps, and has serious technical depth. The FreeSpeech language has larger potential, and the coming years will explain how that gets capitalized.
Third, the product offers a real value proposition, and a real monetization model. There is nothing foo foo about it. In 1M/1M, we advise our portfolio companies to stick to these fundamental principles: offer real value, solve a real problem, and define a clear monetization path. Ajit has always listened to those nuggets of guidance.
Fourth, the company has been bootstrapped using services for a considerable time, before it was ready for a funding round. This is a strategy that we’re using consistently, with solid success, and a recent Harvard Business Review article highlights its importance and effectiveness.
And finally, of course, because we absolutely love Ajit and his team!
From what I hear from the investors, including Google MD and active angel Rajan Anadan, they do too
Note: Ajit’s reflections about some of the significant strategic choices in his journey are here.