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Mar 26, 2012, 12.16 PM IST
Now, Raju Vanapala, founder and CEO, way2sms.com has big ambitions, he wants to take his business global. He has already reached at a 20 million subscribers in India and has done revenues of Rs 12 crore. Raju believes way2sms could be India's answer to Google.
Now, Raju Vanapala, founder and CEO, way2sms.com has big ambitions, he wants to take his business global. He has already reached at a 20 million subscribers in India and has done revenues of Rs 12 crore.
After a masters degree in computer applications, Raju Vanapala decided to take the entrepreneurial route with the business low on investments and high on returns. After studying various opportunities, he decided to bet on the mobile internet space and found his way to success.
Founded in 2006, way2sms.com is India's first free text messaging portal that also allows you to chat, get email and social media alerts. With over 4 million pageviews every month, Raju believes way2sms could be India's answer to Google.
Below is the edited transcript of his interview. Also watch the accompanying videos.
Q: You are the first web portal in India to introduce free SMS. How does the platform operate? How are you providing these free SMSs? How easy is this for a user to just log on to way2sms and enjoy the experience?
A: It’s a risky to start such kind of a business model of giving SMS for free because I was buying a message at Rs 0.27 from the telecom operator. And I am giving it for free to the user. That’s a big risk.
Nobody has tried. I started analysing why nobody has started anything of this kind. The only reason is because balancing the cost as against the revenues is a big challenge there. But somehow I took the risk.
It’s a runaway success for us. Soon after we started way2sms, I started getting somewhere around 2,000 users per day within three months of launch.
We made the user experience very easy. User can just register his mobile number, we send a password to him just to authenticate or just to check the ownership of his mobile, then he logs into way2sms and he can start sending messages. You can add contacts and you can start pushing messages to other friends.
Q: Apart from SMSs, what are the other features that you provide?
A: The moment the user lands on our site, he can start communicating in multiple channels—SMS, chatting, and emails. He can receive alerts, he can be in touch with his inbox anytime.
Q: What is the kind of traction you have created for the business?
A: We have grown in Silicon Valley style with zero advertising budget, focus on viral marketing and word of mouth and online. We have a 20-million registered profiles right now.
According to comscore, around five million users are visiting way2sms every month. We are generating close to 400 million page views. That’s a big number in the Indian context. I think we could be one among the top five portals in the country in terms of page views.
When it comes to mobile, currently we are reaching around 55 million unique mobiles every month. Our contacts are big asset to us. So, we are managing 365 million contacts in our data base. That’s almost half of our Indian mobile subscriber user base.
Q: While mobile users are on a rise, do you really think that people in India are realising the potential of connecting via SMS, especially through the web? What is the kind of potential that you see for your business?
A: People prefer sending messages through way2sms. The reason is we are adding tremendous value to consumer; we are saving cost to them. We are saving close to Rs 10-15 crore SMS cost every month to our consumers.
We are still adding around 23000 new users everyday. We are adding close to 7 lakh users every month. We are growing the same pace. Our growth is still increasing month-on-month.
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