Internal innovation camp at Mercedes Benz Research & Development India, where they invited 6 entrepreneurs to talk to their internal innovators. Lot's of fun, real life cases from all.
A tiny start-up looking to partner with a colossal multi national must develop some original ideas if it is to be successful. Asymmetry and other traditional obstacles can be overcome. This author advances several strategies that will enable a start-up to enjoy a productive partnership with a multi-national.
For an example of how a start-up can effectively engage with an MNC, consider the relationship that Bangalore-based Mango Technologies forged with Qualcomm. Mango was formed in 2006 as a start-up with a focus on building a software product with a niche focus on mobile telephony for base-of-the-pyramid market segments. Within a year, partly to raise its visibility and credibility, Mango sought to enter the incubator of a prestigious local business school, IIM Bangalore. Following a rigorous selection process, the start-up was successful in its efforts.
Dancing with Gorillas: How Small Companies Can Partner Effectively with MNCs
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Delivering his key note address, Mr. Sunil Maheshwari, CEO and Co-Founder of Mango Technologies said, “We haven’t scratched the location-based marketing technique completely. We are still getting there and the increase in the volume of smart phone usage will widen the potential of location-based marketing which will further drive the sales.”
When Sunil Maheshwari (33) and his partner Lekh Joshi (32) floated Mango Technologies two years ago, the biggest challenge was to get funds to start their venture.
The company provides mobile applications platform for low cost devices targeting emerging markets. “Most of the venture capital firms are US-based. Their mindset is different so while funding they think in terms of the US business environment,” says Maheshwari. “They need to understand that the way business functions here is totally different. Entrepreneurs who have only lived in India and not in the US, display a cultural difference in their estimation of money required for a venture and utilisation of funds. Getting angel funding is not difficult in the US but in India it’s not easy to get even Rs 20 lakh to 30 lakh.” Maheshwari faced challenges in accessing seed money to start the company and do the initial setup. “The product market is a longterm game and you need to understand that every product may not be successful but returns are also very high for a successful product,” he says. “Seed money was a constraint, but all of us at Mango have really enjoyed going through this phase. It gave us the strength to save every rupee and give our best in a constrained environment.”
Early-stage venture capital investor Ojas Venture Partners has exited Mango Technologies Pvt. Ltd after US-based Qualcomm Inc. acquired the firm’s flagship product for low- to mid-end mobile phones in a multi-million-dollar deal, a top company executive said on Wednesday.
Qualcomm, the world’s largest wireless semiconductor company, has bought Mango’s handset user interface software with a PC-based customization kit that allows developers to create mobile applications, said Sunil Maheshwari, chief executive and co-founder of the Bangalore-based Mango Technologies.
“This is a huge motivation for us,” Maheshwari said, but declined to divulge more details on the deal.
Mango, founded in 2006, had started collaborating with Qualcomm towards the end of 2007 and was testing its products on the US firm’s chips.
The deal marks the first exit for Bangalore-based Ojas, which has a portfolio of six firms. Ojas had seed-funded Mango with an investment of below $1 million (Rs4.6 crore today) about two years ago. It is now exiting the firm with an internal rate of return of more than 75%, said Rajesh Srivathsa, managing partner of Ojas. In the venture capital business, this works out to returns of about three times. “For early-stage investors like us, the exit horizon is at least seven-eight years. With this deal, we are getting VC kind of returns in two years,” Srivathsa said.
“For companies that are offering complete packages to their customers, it makes a lot of sense to have applications that they can give right away,” said Diptarup Chakraborti, principal research analyst at consultancy Gartner India.