Naveen Tewari

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A brief biography

Dec 29, 2019: The Times of India


‘India needs sustainable businesses and not those based on vanity metrics’ 
Back in September 2011, Bengaluru-based mobile advertising startup InMobi raised $200 million from Japan’s Softbank Group which would eventually value it over $1 billion. That was two years before the term ‘unicorn’ was coined to describe private technology companies valued over $1 billion. Since then, India has become a country with the world’s third-highest number of unicorns (24) after the US and China, and is home to even decacorns (companies valued over $10 billion) like Flipkart and Paytm.

According to InMobi’s co-founder and CEO Naveen Tewari, a former McKinsey consultant, the startup ecosystem has transitioned from those days “as the quality of entrepreneurs is just going up significantly.” Tewari had started InMobi back in 2007, initially known as mKhoj to focus on SMS search and monetisation. The company later moved into mobile advertising, where it sees competition from Silicon Valley giants Google and Facebook. While competing with global giants has not been easy, Tewari has made sure InMobi has become profitable and doesn’t need to depend on external funding to survive. Expanding to China, where Google and Facebook are not allowed, has also paid off.

And there are lessons from the unicorn phenomenon as the decade closes with companies like WeWork, which tried to IPO at $47 billion but saw its valuation fall to $8 billion. “What the last decade showed us was that some businesses that were created were not sustainable,” says 42-year-old Tewari. “The area where entrepreneurship in India has to play a different game is to create more sustainable businesses and not businesses based on vanity metrics.” 
—Madhav Chanchani

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