The Dream Called InMobi

Posted on July 31, 2009
By Naveen Tewari

Today we're rebranding and launching ourselves as InMobi, with aspirations to be a global player in the mobile web ecosystem, enthusiasm in our veins and earnestness in our work. The journey so far has been really exciting for me and the team that has come with me all along. This journey, as with most others, started with an inspiration. The conceptualization of InMobi (previously mKhoj) began in the second half of 2006 when I was visiting India and was intrigued by the continuous proliferation of mobile and the evolving mobile landscape but rather slow innovation on the content side for consumers. Preliminary thoughts were floated around with a few folks in the mobile industry along the lines of a mobile search engine. Some initial excitement led to a business plan which I took to a friend-angel investor. Somewhat fascinated by this business plan, my friend agreed to introduce me to other investors. At that point I was asked for the name of the company and I came up with the name mKhoj, khoj meant search' in Hindi. Around the same time, I happened to meet a very close friend of mine from my undergrad years, Abhay, at a bar in New Delhi. Over drinks, casual conversation flowed which led to finding out that Abhay was also contemplating a similar idea. It did not take long for us to decide that our destination was the same and as such we began to give shape to the business plan, together. Very soon we met Amit, on a trip to Bangalore and began convincing him to join us on this venture, which hadn't even been established till then. Now, we had the business idea, the expertise, the will and the experience. But we still lacked a key ingredient: funding. But as it would happen, fate smiled upon us and on July 26, 2006 I happened to meet Sasha Mirchandani and Prashant Choksey for the first time in a hotel in Delhi. The introduction was made by a common friend and I was floored by the exceptional energy levels of both the guys (despite Sasha being sick that day). The meeting went considerably well and things moved forward quickly after that. Then came September 7, 2006, the most extraordinary day in our and mKhoj's life. That day a presentation was made in front of the band of angels', a group of illustrious businessmen of Bombay, who had come together for the first time. The air was filled with tension and we were trying hard to think positively when the wise men around the table gave us a thumbs-up and decided to put their money behind three guys with a power point'. Now all the loose ends had been tied and we started further work on our brainchild. We worked from Amit's prior company in Bangalore or from bistros scattered across the city. By the time money was in the bank, it was the end of the year and all of us decided to move to Bombay to start the company. The initial days in Bombay were rather interesting when; we worked out of an empty apartment. During those days, talks were already on with Mohit, who was working with Virgin Mobile in San Francisco, to join us in our efforts as CTO.  Mohit joined the venture a few weeks later after it was initiated. Thus, with the money in the bank, team in place and the first office of mKhoj, the dream of  three guys with power point' kicked-off and mKhoj started functioning as a proper corporate company in early 2007. In my next post I'll share with you the highlights of our journey from mKhoj to InMobi. - Naveen