For 33-year-old Amit Lakhmani, the chief executive officer of Kolkata-based wireless and internet value-added service (VAS) provider Max Mobility, embarking on a business outside of the then booming manufacturing and services sector was a natural choice.
“I was always passionate about technology and wanted to create products to change the way people live. In 2004, when I started Max Mobility, these were emerging areas and I felt this is where I could make money,” quips Lakhmani.
A commerce graduate with a PG diploma in computer applications, Lakhmani invested close to Rs 20 lakh from his own pocket to set up Max Mobility, which provides value-added solutions for wireless and internet. These services are made available to the end consumer through tie-ups with telecom service providers.
Max Mobility, started with only Lakhmani working from home, today has 57 staff members, 3.5 lakh users and Rs 3.5-crore annual revenue.
“I have a two-member sales team each in Delhi and Mumbai, and one person to look after it in Bangalore. They mainly work from home,” says Lakhmani.
Max Mobility has come out with eight products, but its flagship product is a financial portfolio tool available on mobiles. The company has partnered with Airtel, Idea, Aircel and Tata Teleservices to help the subscribers of this product make investment decisions on the move. These subscribers not only get information on stock price movements, but also cricket updates and other news. The application also allows users to track initial public offers, calculate their profits and add stocks to their portfolios. As of now, the company has 3.5 lakh users for this application.
Max Mobility has also tied up with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to provide financial contents to end-users.
However, Max Mobility is no exception as far as competition in the market goes. The company started facing rivalry from OnMobile after it introduced a similar service with Vodafone last year.
So what’s the company doing to maximise its utility?
“Going forward, we intend to approach broking firms and financial services firms to sell them a similar platform so that stock brokers get to know the trade amount. We’re also focussing on selling this product as a managed service to enterprise institutions,” Lakhmani explains.
The company is also looking at mobile trading as another revenue source, he adds.
Since the mobile VAS segment is already crowded, Lakhmani believes that the key to success in this market is innovation.