New York: Mobile video is finally starting to break through in India. Ask Silicon Valley mobile video company Vuclip, which is building out a business by focussing on a specific niche: Video viewers outside the US, in places like India, who often watch clips on simpler phones on slower networks.
Much of Silicon Valley is enveloped in a bubble of wealth and tech companies such as Google generate a billion YouTube views a day via iPhone and Android apps on high-end smartphones. In the rest of the world, barely 12 percent of mobile phone users actually own a smartphone.
They rely on 5,500 cellphone models which don’t run the Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems which offer more computing power than Apollo 11 when it landed a man on the moon. Some people have the spending power, but don’t upgrade to smartphones for reasons that range from advertising targeting to cumbersome usability.
Vuclip’s pitch to those users: We’ll give you videos that are tailored for people in your region of the world, delivered in compressed formats that make sense for your devices and carriers.
“We are able to deliver videos on the fly on any device and in any country. We understand that the ‘world is not flat,’ so not every mobile phone user can afford a high-end smartphone or even desires one. But everyone enjoys watching videos,” said Nickhil Jakatdar, CEO and founder of Vuclip, which is headquartered in Milpitas, California, and has offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Singapore, Dubai and Beijing.
“The bandwidth for cellphones in emerging markets is limited; it may be 2G- 3G. We are sensitive to this limitation and ensure that customers are able to watch videos regardless of this,” added Jakatdar.
A serial entrepreneur, Jakatdar studied at the College of Engineering, in Pune before coming to America to get a MS and PhD degree from University of California, Berkeley. Jakatdar founded Vuclip in Silicon Valley five years ago and he’s on pace to generate $10 million in revenue in the next 12 months. He’s just raised $13 million led by Singapore-based VC fund SingTel Innov8 and investors such as NEA and Jafco Ventures who had previously chipped in $24 million.
The funds raised will be used to meet tremendous global demand particularly in India, West Asia and Latin America, as well as to further innovation around Vuclip’s media and advertising platform.
“From 15 people last year, we are looking at having a 50-strong Vuclip India team by end of this year. We already have a successful women’s channel Mira and partnerships with telecom companies like Vodafone with Mobile Box Office. We work with about 75 content partners and are open to co-creating original content,” said Jakatdar.
Jakatdar says the company now has 45 million monthly users, who are watching free, ad-supported videos. Nick Sturiale, general partner at Jafco Ventures, ranks Vuclip as the “fastest growing video service since YouTube.”
Vuclip also has a significant presence in India and companies like UTV Motion Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel leverage its platform.
“We reach 14 million mobile screens in India monthly. Globally we deliver over 1 billion video views a month,” said Jakatdar.
“It’s a myth that Indians only want to watch Bollywood or cricket. Some of our most popular content relates to spirituality, football and Indian-language cinema.”
Prior to Vuclip, Jakatdar was the President of Praesagus, a MIT incubated start-up that he helped grow to the most widely used design-to-manufacturing modeling software in its class, before its acquisition by Cadence Design Systems. The Indian American entrepreneur also built and successfully sold two other start-ups – CommandCAD and Timbre Technologies.
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