'Raising angel fund in India is a huge challenge'
Coming from a business family Ashish Chaturvedi always knew he had to be his own man. So after spending almost ten years at Infosys -- Ashish completed BTech in Chemical Technology from HBTI Kanpur in 2001 -- he finally quit in 2011 to pursue a postgraduate executive MBA from IIM-Calcutta.
In 2012, soon after he graduated, Ashish started uFony, a mobile company that recently launched Zoment, a context messaging application for Android and iOS.
In an e-mail interview Ashish speaks about his maiden venture, Zoment’s USP and the challenges his company faced as a start-up.
What is Ufony's business model? How will you earn revenues?
For Zoment, we are expecting two category of consumers namely free and power users.
For free users real time messages will always be free. However, scheduling feature would be free up to a certain limit of usage. Also for free users we plan to dish highly customised and location specific advertisements.
For power users, we will have a subscription model where these users can purchase extra usage limit for scheduling feature and they won't be served any ads.
What is Zoment's USP?
Let me share our product overview here:
Zoment's USP is context messaging. What is context messaging you may wonder?
Here is what we think:
Everything in the world is beautiful depending on the context. A school bell sounds irritating at 9 am but the same bell sounds melodious at 4 pm: Unknown
Zoment lets you choose a right context, be it time or location, for your message. So a voice greeting from your loved one arriving at 12 am on your birthday or a reminder from your wife listing things to buy delivered right when you are near a grocery store become more meaningful with Zoment.
You can use Zoment as a tool to set meeting reminders, scheduling work based on employee location and timely information delivery for meetings.
You can also use Zoment to effectively communicate with your clients and colleagues, who work across different time zones. Message scheduling ensures that your messages get delivered during their work hours and thus not disturbing them in their personal lives.
You can also use Zoment to leave location specific tips: places to see, food to try, things to buy etc -- for friends who are in the same location or who may visit that location in future. It's an innovative way to share your footprints with your friends.
You can wish our loved ones in your voice on their birthday, anniversary and other key occasions of their lives using Zoment. You can also use Zoment to send timely reminders, such as reminding your mom at 8 am sharp to have her medicine, to your loved ones.
The challenges you faced as a start-up...
A lot. First and the foremost, taking the plunge is a huge decision especially when you have a family and tons of liability. I guess it’s true for any entrepreneur, especially those who are in the middle of their careers.
Second, raising angel fund in India is a huge challenge especially for a first time entrepreneur like me. People bet on you more than the idea and as we have progressed I have realised that it’s the execution which is more important than the idea itself.
Third, it's extremely hard to find people who are ready to work with you, be it finding a right partner or finding a start employee.
I would say this is the biggest challenge I have faced so far, even when I thought I had a little credibility, given my past work experience and IIM-C brand. Still inspiring others to give up their secure and a well paying job and join me for a roller coaster ride full of risks has proven to be extremely difficult.
Finally, managing expectations whether it is mine, investors' or consumers', is a difficult task.
What kind of money did you invest in this venture and do you have any investors on board?
I invested around Rs 2.5 lakh and a lucrative career for my venture. Yes, we have The Chennai Angels as our seed investors.
What's the road ahead Ufony?
On the consumer space, we will add more context to Zoment messaging. We are also working on a new product concept that we have to introduce in next 6-8 months.
We are also exploring Zoment's b2b version that can come handy for sales channel partners, health institutions and travel houses.
Image: Ashish Chaturvedi