Vamshi Krishna Reddy gave up a well-paying job in the US to launch a company with an entirely new concept. Now seven years later, the company is doing exceptionally well
Imagine giving up a lucrative job in the US and moving to Hyderabad to test previously uncharted territory. But that is exactly what B Vamshi Krishna Reddy, co-founder of Apalya Technologies did. He gave up his well-paying job with Cisco to return to his hometown Hyderabad and set up Apalya in 2005, a service provider that delivers live and on demand video content from over 200 television channels through mobile service providers. The company recently started operations in Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Incidentally, Apalya was the first company to offer live TV on mobile phones in India. Despite the uncertainty, it was love for his family and the City that Vamshi back to Hyderabad. “I launched the business along with Shiveshankar Byapunedi (Shiva), who was at the time working with Nokia in Finland. We were classmates during our engineering days and also great friends. Both of us wanted to return to India and launch a company of our own. And we did. Today, although Apalya has offices in major cities in the country, we’ve got our headquarters in Hyderabad,” he says.
Didn’t they fear failure considering the concept was new in the country? “India is going through mobile revolution. I was surprised to see how people are using mobile phones in the country, compared to USA. People were still using landlines in the US at that time. However, Indians were extensively using mobile phones for everything from calling to text messaging. The idea behind our business is to offer value added service on mobile phones,” he says, adding, “We clearly knew that data (video) would be extensively used once high speed networks emerged in the country. At the time of our launch, networks were not ready for video streaming. The challenge was to provide a solution that can deliver video on edge network. We could achieve that through our technological innovations.”
Fortunately, for them media companies and mobile service providers were both eager to give this concept a shot. Talking about the initial investments, Vamshi says, “The initial investment was `55 lakh, that was pooled in by Shiva, me and a few friends. When we started the business we had four employees and we were operating from my old house. The major challenge we faced at the time was recruiting and retain quality human resource. People usually like working with big brands and sceptical about new companies. Even if they do join, they learn the ropes and then leave.”
They overcame the problem by getting quality human resource from remote locations by having tie-ups with educational institutes like NIIT for the first two years. “Even today, 20-25 per cent of our employees are freshers. People are now very interested in our work because we use cutting-edge technology and get access to the latest devices from OEMs like Nokia, Samsung and Blackberry, much before they are available in the market,” he adds.
As a medium sized company there are constant challenges that Apalya faces. “We have to constantly update our technology as it is challenging to deliver across many devices that run on varying versions of different operating systems. We have nearly 105 people working in the company just to deliver television on a mobile phone. That shows the effort that goes behind the scenes.”
Talking about future trends, he says, “Convergence will play a bigger role in the future. The content on your TVs by DTH operators will be delivered over the internet through your laptop or mobile. Once the 3G and 4G take over the mobile data market, things will change. An estimated 160 million people will have access to high speed networks in the next four years. Tablets and mobiles will get much cheaper. Even if we are able to tap 10 per cent of this, we will have 16 million customers.” In the meantime, the company is growing at 200 per cent every year and got a break-even last fiscal.
On the personal front, Vamshi is a movie buff and enjoys films in different languages, no wonder then he took to providing video content on mobile phones. “I was brought up on a staple of films at theatres at RTC X roads. Even today I go to the theatres there to watch a movie, while my kids would rather go to a multiplex. I also love to play badminton and tennis in the mornings with Shiva and I also travel to Mumbai and New Delhi frequently on business work,” he says.
- 2005: The company was launched
- 2007: $0.5 million through Mumbai angles
- 2009: Series A round- $3 million dollars from IDG Ventures India and Qualcomm Ventures
- 2010: Series B round- $7.5 million from Indo-US Venture Partners, IDG Ventures India and Qualcomm Ventures
- Total Investment - Around $11 million.