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Bitten by the Net bug

My Big Idea

Nikhil Lohade  |  Mumbai 

The entrepreneurial bug bit Nitish Mittersain, 24, in college. He was an early convert to the Net and set up a site "" giving film

Four months later, it was re-christened as an entertainment portal "" Initially funded by his father (his grandfather is B K Goyal, ex-sheriff of Mumbai), he then sought angel investors after the dotcom bubble burst.

With the growing cellular phone market, Mittersain, re-invented the portal as Nazara Technologies to provide media content to cell operators. Catering to a cross section of domestic and international players, his current turnover is Rs 2.1 crore.

I graduated in commerce in 1999 but the entrepreneurial bug bit me much before I was through with college. I was one of the early Internet operators in India.

In late 1998, I had a chat with filmstar on the Internet and he told me there was no quality site dedicated to Indian entertainment. That's when I decided to launch a website totally dedicated to Bollywood.

I had drawn up an initial budget of Rs 4 lakh to launch the site but it took over six months to convince my rich father to loan me the amount. There was a clause though; I had to sustain the business on my own and return the money to him in a year.

I launched in September 1999, with doing the honours. Within three months, we had 30,000 hits a day. The ad revenue was enough to sustain day-to-day operations.

We soon shifted to an office rented from my father and I hired three people to work with me. However, I soon realised that we would either have to expand and grow very rapidly or get wiped out by the increasing competition.

We decided to expand from a niche Bollywood site to a comprehensive entertainment portal. Relaunched as in January 2000, we added music and games. It also had a 50-channel Internet radio "" 'radio Nazara' launched by

Hits on our site had increased from about a million a month to about three million in February 2000. But we needed funds to grow and so we started looking for investors.

At 21, my age was the biggest hindrance. Eventually I found angel investors who gave us Rs 1 crore. We scaled up our operations and grew rapidly; our four-member team grew to 25. Ad revenues which were about Rs 1.5 lakh in December 1999 increased to Rs 5 lakh by July 2000.

However, eventually advertising money began dwindling. It was down to about Rs 2 lakh in December 2000. Given that we had scaled up our operations, it became increasingly difficult to sustain ourselves on just ad revenues.

That's when we began dipping into the venture funding for day to day operational costs. We scaled down operations and just about managed to live out the crash. By mid-2001 we were down to seven people. The site was still popular but ad revenues had almost stopped.

I decided to focus on developing new skill sets to generate other revenue streams. Luckily, the cellular phone market was taking off in a big way. We started making headway into mobile applications by designing games for mobile phones.

Our first contract was with Orange in Mumbai in mid-2001, which generated about Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh a month for us. We started working with other mobile operators too. Revenues increased to about Rs 7 lakh to Rs 8 lakh by January 2002, basically from mobile gaming.

was re-christened Nazara Technologies. We are one of the well established mobile application providers in not only India but also Europe, USA and the Far East.

We have our own short code number which is for all the major cellular networks in India and overseas. Nazara also provides complete solutions for the development, deployment, targeting and tracking of promotional campaigns on emerging mobile platforms. Our wireless and gaming solutions integrate content of media

We have SMS-enabled Zee where its viewers can access news, and also give their opinion. Today, our client list includes Hutchison, BPL, Idea Cellular, Escotel, Spice, Oasis and Reliance in India and operators such as Vodafone and O2 in Europe. Ninety per cent of our revenues come from mobile services.

First Published: Sat, August 23 2003. 00:00 IST
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