Rewind a bit to Kaun Banega Crorepati’s second season, aired from mid-2005 to early-2006. It was Comviva’s (formerly Bharti Telesoft) tele-voting app for Airtel subscribers that had millions of viewers flooding the show with SMSes for a chance to win a place on it. Airtel’s peak load capacity was utilised only for 15 minutes after each episode but costly resources got blocked over the rest of the day when only 4-5% of the network was put to use. Not only that, critical user profile data was generated but not used. Brij Mohan Mahendru, 37 years old at the time, was watching the show keenly for reasons entirely other than the Big B’s charms.
KBC2’s primitive data handling confirmed to Mahendru, then a VP at Bharti Telesoft, that a single platform was needed that would roll out multiple services (call manager, call/SMS filter) and cross-link user profiles for marketers. “I began discussing it with friends,” recalls Mahendru, co-founder and director, mCarbon, who also sounded his bosses at Comviva out on the idea. They loved it but it wasn’t Telesoft’s thing so Mahendru set out with Rajesh Razdan, a friend and erstwhile colleague heading Telesoft’s biz development in the Saarc to start mCarbon. The mobile value-added service (VAS) company with a difference was born in March 2008, after some serious preparatory legwork.
“He was a techie and I was into sales,” says Razdan, founder-director, mCarbon. Their idea was persuasive. Other erstwhile colleagues joined them. Funding was more finicky — VCs were too busy drooling over low hanging fruit like simple VAS such as hello tunes and wallpapers. But a friend pitched in with seed money and Mahendru and Razdan pooled in their savings. Then, “We presented our plan to Canaan Partners in early 2008 and they c