Exclusive Interview With Dr. Vinod Vasudevan, CEO, Flytxt – Conversational Mobile Marketing Technology

We recently spoke to Dr. Vinod Vasudevan, CEO, Flytxt who shared with us some key insights from the mobile marketing technology arena. He also helped us understand their new revenue generation opportunity offering for the mobile operators. This in form of Flytxt’s first fully integrated mobile advertising platform ‘NEON’. Besides, the interaction also includes certain facts and figures from the industry’s current scenario and of course the urgency of the 3G launch. Some excerpts -

Dr. Vinod-Vasudevan

1.  What in your view is the mobile VAS startup scene in India?

  • India is now a hot dynamic mobile market, subscriber  base is still growing at a rate of 8 million per  month, new players starting operations and intense competition is on for market and customer wallet share
  • As traditional voice products are getting commoditised, VAS is gaining ground as a key service differentiator for operators. It is also a new revenue source actively pursued by operators through partners.
  • VAS products like ringtones have become popular among specific customer segments like youth
  • Lots of players emerging in the VAS ecosystem looking at the significant potential of this segment. Operators need to choose right partners, both service and technology if they want to gain an early advantage in this growing market
  • One of the key challenges for operators is in promoting these 100’s of VAS products, most of which have very short lifecycles. Promoting and selling them to right customer segment quickly holds the key to an operator’s success in MVAS.

2.  What is the future of mobile entertainment and Value Added Services in India?

  • According to the report from IAMAI, it is expected to touch Rs 15000 crore by 2010. It is growing at more than 50% annual rate.
  • CRBT and SMS are still contributing more than 50% of its market share. But other products like games and P2A/A2P SMS are also
  • Introduction of 3G networks is expected to further accelerate growth of VAS products.
  • There is also an increased focus on operators side to reach rural population with relevant VAS products like giving them information on latest commodity prices in market.

3.  What is Flytxt’s role in simplifying the complexities of Mobile advertising?

  • Today, the majority of marketing impressions over the mobile channel are operators selling something to their subscribers. Mobile advertising as in third party brands using mobile as a channel for their advertising is at a very nascent stage.
  • We focus on providing marketers with a fully integrated, automated and usable technology platform, which can connect them directly to subscribers without any IT intermediaries
  • Our aim is insulate marketers from technical complexities and challenges in launching marketing campaigns through mobile channel and free their time for more creative thinking and designing innovative campaigns
  • We help marketers do iterative marketing, test their ideas with instant campaigns, analyse its results, choose the best idea and execute it.
  • With hundreds of marketers trying to reach subscribers with hundreds of products, customers are receiving too many messages, and controlling spam is becoming difficult.  Neon helps in this by providing Operators with centralised control over distributed marketing.

4.  How much is your current subscriber base?

  • Currently we supply our technology to mobile operators enabling them to engage their customers through conversational marketing program. Our installations in India, put together, serve around 150 million subscribers. We expect it to grow steadily in the coming year too.

5.  Are you funded?

  • We are funded by global venture capital firms. Major investors include Clifton Holdings Inc, IVC Venture Capital AG and Jetzthaus Grundstuecksverwaltungs GmbH.

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6.   Who are your competitors?

  • Neon, our flagship product is a 3rd generation mobile marketing technology platform.  We usually face competition from 1st and 2nd generation technology products.
  • The first generation of mobile marketing tools is list based bulk messaging tools. These tools are typically designed for use by Engineers and do not support targeting nor any subscriber feedback. These tools do not use any of the extensive subscriber data available with the operator and over time does considerable harm to the mobile marketing channel.
  • The second generation of tools improves upon the first generation through targeting, done mostly offline. These traditional multi‐channel campaign management systems, mostly extensions on BI and CRM tools, are designed for use by IT/ business analysts. They are intrinsically not transactional and lack real‐time conversational marketing characteristics. Lack of real‐time tracking and poor usability severely limits their value to mobile marketers.
  • Neon is a third generation mobile marketing platform designed for conversational marketing and to be used by marketers. It connects the marketers directly with subscribers without any intermediaries. Neon is characterised by real‐time transaction processing, native communication interfaces and seamlessly integration with live subscriber data. Marketers can run hundreds of highly targeted campaigns, track and quantify the customer reactions and respond to them in real-time, enabling conversational marketing.

7.   What according to Flytxt is the future of Mobile advertising in India?

  • Today, the majority of marketing impressions over the mobile channel are operators selling something to their subscribers. Mobile advertising as in third party brands using mobile as a channel for their advertising is at a very nascent stage.
  • Advertisers need to understand and believe in the results of their investments before mobile advertising can take off. Recent advances in campaign platforms like Neon enable operators to accurately demonstrate the impact of individual adverts.
  • Flytxt believes that mobile advertising will begin to grow prodigiously in the near future as a result
  • With 3G launch, network capacity is going to increase. This is expected to increase receptivity towards Video ads which is expected to create more impact and generate more impressions.

mobile-advertising

8.   Do you have a revenue model?

  • We prefer to work on a Revenue Sharing Model. In this model, we associate with our customers more as partners than suppliers.

9.   Are you partnered with anyone?

  • Last year, we announced our tie up with Reliance Communication, one of the largest mobile operators in India. They deployed our platform, Neon, current serving 70+ million subscribers all across India.
  • We are also in the process of partnering with other major operators in India, expecting to announce more tie ups in 2010.

10.  What are currently your key focus areas?

  • Flytxt is presently focused on supplying Neon to mobile operators and large enterprises. The immediate focus geographies are India and the neighboring countries, Middle East and South Africa.

2 Responses to “Exclusive Interview With Dr. Vinod Vasudevan, CEO, Flytxt – Conversational Mobile Marketing Technology”

  1. December 8, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Another company working in the SMS 2.0 marketing space is CellZapp – http://www.cellzapp.com/ – check them out.

  2. February 11, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    Nice article. What will happen to this marketing tools, if subscriber has option to not recieve any unwanted ads.

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