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Accountant shows tech is not just an engineer’s domain

Saturday, 8 October 2011 - 7:00am IST | Place: Hyderabad | Agency: dna

Vishwanath Alluri says thinking from a user’s perspective helped him build IMIMobile into one of the biggest mobile VAS providers.

It was an unexpected diversification for Vishwanath Alluri when in the nineties he took a plunge into the sector that was changing by the hour in terms of technology obsolescence.

But for this chartered accountant-turned-hospital CEO, who started IMIMobile, a value-added services (VAS) provider to then-nascent mobile phone segment in 1999, it was also a leap of faith.

“I had never worked in any technology MNC in Silicon Valley to learn what makes a technology company. It was all about ideation and I always had this dream of turning ideas into executable programmes. That’s exactly what I did in the company since inception,” Alluri, the CEO of the Hyderabad-based technology firm, said.

During his brief stint at the hospital, Alluri was also working on another project about designing telecom towers.

“The hospital assignment was all about management. But the real excitement was building up somewhere else,” Alluri, also known as Vish in the tech world, said.

The telecom towers business was equally challenging as the entire design changes as per the location of the tower and various external factors such as wind speed, he said.

“In the late 90s we saw the telecom revolution happening slowly but surely, and I had my own idea of approaching the sector. I always believed that you don’t have to be an engineer to think about technology. I was thinking from a user’s perspective. I was putting together a team to translate that into technology,” Alluri said while describing how he came to start IMIMobile, which has now become one of the top VAS players.

It now has a clientele of 71 mobile telecom operators, including Airtel, BSNL, MTN, Orange, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone, NCell and Idea, in 59 countries.

IMIMobile’s success is in creating a modular platform for porting any value added service a mobile or media company wants to offer to its customers, he said.

Called DaVinci, the platform helps a company deploy an application and monetise it without having to spend much time on the offering.

The platform powers a wide range of services created, delivered and managed by IMImobile including social aggregation, contact management, mobile advertising, mobile marketing, messaging, storefronts, ringback tones and digital music services.

Alluri said the operator is relieved of technology or billing related issues since the platform does everything that is related to an application.

“The platform and our teams at the centralised data centre in Hyderabad track everything including the mobile user’s choices, the way the user is making use of the technology and the billing related issues,” Alluri said.

In about a decade of setting up and scaling up the operations, IMIMobile has also made a flurry of acquisitions to strengthen its platform.

In 2009 it acquired Mobytec, a technology platform powering Mobyko.com social aggregation service. IMIMobile now offers Mobytec as a fully managed service for mobile network operators.

The company also took over Music2You service from Nokia Siemens Networks to provide full-track music download and subscription services and UK-based digital content delivery services provider dx3, a digital content delivery firm. In October 2010 IMIMobile acquired Win, a UK mobile and wireless data services company. Last week it acquired UK-based digital agency Skinkers, a mobile apps developer.

“We are growing well. We are emerging into a clear leader in the space primarily due to the ease in deployment of application without having to shutdown the service by the operator,” he said.

Enthused by the response to his company’s services, Alluri is now looking to build an Open Mobile platform.

“Mobile phone has clearly become the most preferred advertising and campaign platform. So, a trader should be allowed to offer a scheme to the mobile users on the go. For instance, if a pizza store wants to offer a special discount to the commuters on a particular stretch of road during a particular hour of the day, the store owner should be able to send out an offer to all the mobile users on the road during that time without having to plan for it in advance,” he said.

The store owner should be able to log in to our network, type the offer details and transmit it. He can either select the telecom operator or make it common for any operator. That is the open mobile network we are working on,” he said.

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