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The Rediff Interview/Sunil Maheshwari, co-founder, Mango Technologies
Mango's innovative effect on low-cost phones
February 14, 2008
The new breed of India's best innovators is set to take the world by a storm. Young, intelligent, and ambitious these dynamic entrepreneurs might well conquer the world with their innovative ideas, products and services.
rediff.com brings to you a special series on India's best innovators and entrepreneurs, winners of the latest Nasscom Innovation Award 2007.
The name Mango Technologies has some deep rooted Indian-ness attached to it. But this infotech company's achievement makes them a global brand in creating cost-effective handset application solutions for the international market today.
Young and enterprising, Sunil Maheshwari and Lekh Joshi power Mango's innovative and inspiring developments.
"Our solutions allow both telecom device manufacturers and network operators to quickly address market requirements with distinguishing features," says Sunil Maheshwari, co-founder of Mango Technologies.
"Rich features were available only on the high-end phones segment. For example, location-based services, local search, mobile banking, map navigation and traffic channels will soon be available on your low cost phones," Maheshwari explains.
Mango has filed patents for SMS-based theme download, advertising message download and non-linear display of mobile application data.
More usable features at the same cost, especially for the low cost mobile phones will be the new mantra, points out Sunil Maheshwari in an interview with Assistant Editor Manu A B.
Can you help us understand the innovation that won you the prestigious Nasscom award?
Mango Technologies has developed a unique and the thinnest modular application and user interface (UI) framework, which considerably reduces the engineering effort and time spent on development and integration.
The Mango solution helps vendors and operators with the flexibility to churn out handsets with varied flavours of user interface and opens up big opportunity for VAS (value added services) applications in the low cost phones.
What will be the benefits of this application?
Mango's solutions enable rich features that were hitherto available only on the high-end phone segment, and spawn multiple revenue streams for phone manufacturers, application providers and operators.
For example, location-based services, local search, mobile banking, map navigation and traffic channels will soon be available on your low cost phones. Mango has filed patents for SMS-based theme download, advertising message download and non-linear display of mobile application data.
It would mean rich solutions at a lesser cost, resulting in improved productivity and lifestyle for the mobile consumers.
We expect this solution to take the mobile world closer to the 'application on demand' scenario.
This solution enables application development for the mobile phone segment that has been constrained because of memory, processor, engineering and cost restrictions. It opens up vast possibilities for the mass market phone segment user.
How long did it take to develop the award winning application?
It's been more than one-and-a-half years, and still more feature addition and innovation work is going on. Initially I and Lekh [Joshi] started it, and later Aniruddha, Sourabh and Manohar joined us to make a very good core team.
How difficult was the task? What hurdles did you face?
There were few different challenges which we have faced or are still facing: convincing people to dream along with us; convincing our partners to license their mobile hardware platforms for our development and test; convincing people to pay for the evaluation license so we can continue work.
How do you see the market for mobile phones in India? Do you see the cost of handsets falling further?
I don't think anyone has any doubt about the market potential in India. It will be more to do with the usable features at the same cost especially for the low cost mobile phones that should be the mantra.
What was the inspiration to start this company?
As a team we have built many phone models for large and small companies but urge to put power in low cost handset and if we can contribute in improving common persons productivity and lifestyle.
What kind of hurdles did you face when you started your company? What are the challenges that you face now?
We had very little money in our bank accounts but once we started and everyone committed for it, things started falling in place.
Could you tell us about your company's growth over the years? What the reason behind naming the company Mango?
We wanted to keep company name simple and easy to remember and of course we also wanted to show the Indian identity.
What is your staff strength now? Do you plan to hire more people?
We plan to grow up to 65-70 people team this year.
Most people find finance a major constraint. How was it for you?
It was a constraint, but all of us at Mango have really enjoyed going through this phase. It gave us strength to save every rupee and give your best in a very constrained environment. We are very thankful to NSRCEL, IIM-B for incubating [our company] and to all our friends who have supported us since the initial stage.
How do you like the role of an entrepreneur? Do you think India needs more entrepreneurs?
Again, if we have to grow faster we need to keep innovating.
Could you explain the reasons for your success?
We have successfully cleared the round one, but there are many more milestones to be achieved.
What do you think about the quality of talent in India? Are you facing a shortage of talented people?
We are very fortunate to have a very good team and continuously getting more and more talents.
What are your company's future plans? Where do you see the company five years from now?
We see Mango as the platform of choice for low cost handheld devices. We want to contribute in the complete lifecycle of mobile phones even when these devices are in the consumer's hand.
Do you think the US slowdown will affect your company?
The US slowdown will not affect our company.
What are your views on innovation in India? How important is innovation for a company?
Only innovation can keep up the 10 per cent growth rate for the country. It's very important for any company to think differently but at the same time we also need to think about the users who are going to use these innovations.
Indian companies focus more on services than products. How important is a product-based innovation?
Product is a long-term game and you need to understand that every product may not be successful but returns are also very high for a successful product.
Why are Indian firms not as good as Western ones at product innovation? What could be done to address this issue?
Indians are always been a very enterprising people, but in the new economy and media glare we are probably first time showcasing our talent.