Mango Tech sells two software products to Qualcomm

In a sign that India's software product space is coming of age, a small Bangalore start-up — Mango Technologies — has sold two of its software products to Qualcomm, one of the world's largest wireless semiconductor companies. 

Sunil Maheshwari, the 35-year-old CEO and founder of the company, declined to specify the value of the deal, only revealing that it was a multi-million dollar one. Mango was founded in July 2006 by Maheshwari, who had previously worked in companies like Tektronix, Pixtel and Quasar Innovations, and Lekh Joshi (33), who had previously worked with Motorola, Kyocera and Quasar. As part of the transaction, Qualcomm received a mobile handset user interface (UI) software and a PC-based UI customisation tool kit from Mango. 

Software products made in India are beginning to find their way into global end-products through licensing arrangements, but this is a rare instance of a company being able to sell its products to a global giant. Maheshwari compared this to Google buying the Android operating system from a start-up. ''Mango would have found it difficult to scale the products' usage. Qualcomm, with its enormous reach among handset makers and operators around the world, would be able to scale it quickly,'' Maheshwari said. And given Qualcomm's desire to scale the product, it would have been a risk for it to have a licensing arrangement with Mango. 

Mango, which TOI had featured in December 2008 as a promising start-up, had developed an application framework for low- and mid-tier mobile handsets. 

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Mango Technologies: Ripe for the picking

With urban markets stuttering under the effects of the downturn, rural India has become more important than ever before for mobile handset makers who are racing against time to make inexpensive handsets with high-end functionalities. Powering them is Mango Technologies, which has set its sights firmly on this segment not just in India but other countries as well. 

Mango's application framework comes with a designer tool and a phone simulator, which allows handset makers to perform much of their user interface development on a personal computer. This software comes at one-tenth of the cost it usually takes elsewhere, says Maheshwari, Normally the time to market is nine months to the year. Ours takes 3-4 months, he says. The software can also be adapted to suit various regions of India speaking different dialects, and also across other geographies that the company is targeting, like China and the East European market. The development time has been reduced by addressing activities that took up maximum time during the phone development cycle.  

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Interview: Sunil Maheshwari, CEO and Co-founder, Mango Technologies

Question: What has been your experience in bootstrapping your venture? Answer: It has been very challenging but very satisfying too! When you start a new venture, you need a very good and dedicated team to deliver your dreams and that's what as a team we have been doing for the past >2 years.  As an entrepreneur you always need to remember that CASH is always KING in business so always preserve it (wherever you can). We started with our own small money so always believed in this concept and kept our administrative and operational cost minimal or nil. When we started, we requested one of our friend to provide a plug n play office space with resources to work on our product in return for a small equity. The kind of continuous support we have got from them is very good and in your early days you can't have anything better than that. After completing our first year we got incubated at NSRCEL, IIMB, which gave us lot's of visibility, advisory inputs from NSRCEL, over and above a very healthy and productive working environment. Many people including you have helped us in our early days with a very small fraction of upfront money.  But at the same time we have picked the best brains in the industry in this domain and have spent money generously there, followed strict process within the company (which many startup companies ignore) but which is very important for our survival. 
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A toast to ‘Indi-innovators’

The majority of the innovations recognised are in the product category — and highlight the very wide spectrum of players involved, from a large multinational such as Texas Instruments to wholly Indian companies, for instance, Mistral, to academia-fuelled start-ups such as Mango.

The Bangalore-based Comat Technologies has created rural business centres that address a key challenge: how to make a viable business out of it and how to scale up. Mango Technologies was born out of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and has quickly become a respected supplier of solutions for mobile handsets, personal media players and the burgeoning area of Linux-fuelled personal devices. Read more...

Story of a top Indian entrepreneur

Sunil Maheswari, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Mango Technologies Pvt Ltd, has many accomplishments to his credit. MINT-Wall Street Journal described Mango Technologies as one of the 'Top Ten Startup Companies of 2008'.

In 2007, he won the top innovation award from Nasscom and recently, Business World named him one of the top five entrepreneurs in India. Sunil had managed the team that designed the first 'Designed in India' mobile set and the world's first dual SIM phone.

Mango Technologies is a software solution provider for all low and medium segment mobile phones.

At the 'Jumpstart Your Venture' workshop of the recently concluded TiE-ISB Connect 2009, Sunil Maheswari spoke of starting up a venture. caught up with him after the presentation, and here is his story. Read on. . .