Tapping into the ongoing telecom revolution, Mumbai-based mKhoj has started a niche, first-of-its-kind mobile advertising service. The service enables retailers to advertise their products directly on mobile phones via sms, thereby also allowing consumers access to deals from thousands of brands, retailers and merchants. The service is presently available only in Mumbai, though there are plans to soon extend the facility to cities across India.
Elaborating on what led to the introduction of mKhoj, Naveen Tiwari, CEO, mKhoj, explained, “The number of mobile phones is increasing and it is expected to reach up to 500 million by 2010. Internet penetration in India cannot reach the levels of mobile penetration in the next 5-10 years. At the same time, retailers and merchants (especially small ones), who have always struggled with the expensive forms of advertising and promotions, need a cost-effective platform to reach out to consumers. Mobile content creators require a way (apart from a small share of subscription or download fee from operators) to monetise content. This will also lead to increase in the total content creation.
“At mKhoj, based on these factors, we decided to build a technology so that we can allow merchants to reach out to consumers directly on their mobile phones (SMS and WAP) using our ‘targeting’ algorithms.
“We also realised that the potential in ‘push’ marketing is fairly limited and largely viewed as spam. We need to get into ‘permission’ marketing and ‘pull’ marketing to deliver value to marketers. We created our own ‘pull’ marketing system called ‘mKhoj Deal Platform’. Our ‘Deal’ platform is focused on allowing subscribers to search for exciting offers and promotions from local merchants directly from the mobile. It is critical that the offers being displayed provide tangible benefits to the consumer. The consumer is charged the normal premium SMS rate (Rs 3). The merchant is also charged based on the keywords that were used to search the deal. mKhoj will be marketing this platform to consumers directly.”
Talking about investments made towards the project, Tiwari said, “The company is well funded by highly reputed sources in the venture industry that form part of the Angel Investors community in Mumbai, called ‘Mumbai Angels’. Some of the large investors are Praveen Chakravarty (director, Thomas Weisel Partners), Sasha Mirchandani (partner, Blue Run Ventures), and Manoj Maheshwari (chairman, Aurovision).”
mKhoj’s biggest strength is its association with leading retailers and marketers in business. Along with over thousands of retailers, there are about 40 organised chains that have joined hands with mKhoj – among them are Subhiksha, Café Coffee Day, McDonald’s, Domino’s, Inorbit, Lakmé, Metro Shoes, Fame, The Mobile Store, Tata Sky, Provogue, and Kaya Skin Clinic.
– Zainab Morbiwala, Mumbai Bureau