India is the world’s fastest-expanding mobile market…we added 15.41 million wireless users in the month of January 09 - the biggest monthly growth ever. The country’s blistering mobile phone customer growth has been helped by one of the world’s lowest cellular phone tariff structures of less than two cents a minute, mobile reaching the farthest corners of the country and device prices which are at a stage where everybody in the family can own a mobile phone…making mobile personal, always on, powerful, interactive and real time medium. It is no longer a device limited to communication but has evolved into one for getting information, conducting transactions etc. Mobile has already become a lifestyle device.
With need / demand comes innovation…this is exactly what has happened in India. Mobile is one of areas where true innovation is happening in the country. There aren’t many countries that have been able to develop the kind of services on voice-VAS and SMS medium as India has. Most of the innovation on the mobile industry is happening on the VAS (Value Added Services) front.
Mobile operators are now realizing that VAS is a critical offering - not only in terms of increasing profitability (VAS forms a substantial part of the operator overall revenue, between 8 – 12 percent), but it can also help distinguish operators from one another. Operators in India traditionally have not been developing VAS technologies but rely on VAS vendors to provide them with the services.
Developing services for mobile is relatively easy which has led to the formation of numerous VAS companies in India to participate in the mobile revolution…no wonder VAS companies compete for the mindshare of the same operators. What operators and VAS developers may be failing to realize is the fact that though the Indian VAS market is expected to grow over $3 billion by 2010, a major contributor to this pie will eventually be the VALUE that end consumers find in the value-added services offered by operators. What am I saying here? The answer is simple…VAS will now have to offer true VALUE – relevant services that can have an impact in a person’s life and a good overall experience along with affordable pricing.
From the end consumers’ perspective, there is a significant pain point today in dealing with mobile VAS. VAS is offered over numerous access channels - GPRS, SMS, USSD, and IVR. The experience across these channels is inconsistent leading to frustration. Different short codes / key words are needed to subscribe and unsubscribe to individual services. Consumers often feel helpless in this regard. As a result, penetration of most VAS services tends to cap out in the 3 - 4% range (with the exception of Ring back tones).
Canaan Partners has recently invested in mCarbon which was founded on the philosophy that VAS needs to be offered in such a manner that it is accessible via all channels while providing maximum control and flexibility to the end user. mCarbon is therefore, tackling some of the core customer pain points relating to VAS and discovering that operators are appreciative of this approach which is fresh, and leading to improved customer satisfaction.
If mCarbon can drive VAS penetration up by even a few percentage points and delight the customer – that would bring true VALUE in VAS.
Harish Gandhi, Executive Director
mCarbon, a hotbed for VAS innovation in India, has received funding from Canaan Partners in its first round of venture funding. mCarbon is redefining the VAS space in India by innovating products that are bound to create a pull for VAS in the minds of the end users, pioneering a shift from the push to the pull strategy for operators. The new funding from Canaan Partners will enable mCarbon to accelerate the company’s growth and innovative product offerings.
BharatMatrimony.com, India’s most trusted matrimony portal with over 12 million registered members, recently tied-up with ItzCash Card Ltd, India’s first “Multi Purpose Prepaid Cash Card”. The alliance will enable new registration and renewal to the BharatMatrimony customers through ItzCash Card. Customers will now be able to register anytime from home or office by using ItzCash Card. ItzCash cards which will be available in a range of denominations from Rs. 100 to Rs. 10,000, will also allow consumers to be in charge of what they spend and also uniquely enable them to process micro payments of Rs. 10/- onwards.
Tremor Media which provides advertisers with in-banner and in-stream video advertising on various publisher sites recently raised $18 million in Series C venture funding. Canaan Partners, an existing investor in the company, also participated in the round. The new funding will enable Tremor Media to further consolidate its lead in the online video advertising arena, with the help of an escalated product development process; as well as its global expansion.
Enpirion Inc., a developer of power systems on a chip, recently raised $16 million in Series E funding. Canaan Partners, an existing investor also participated in this round along with other investors. All together, Enpirion has raised nearly $70 million in venture investment.
Canaan Partners will be partnering and sponsoring Structure 2009 Conference that will be held on June 25, 2009 in San Francisco, California. Structure 09 is a conference designed to explore the next generations of Cloud Computing and Internet infrastructure. The conference will bring together customers, entrepreneurs and early influencers that drive the technology industry around the world. Areas of discussion will include Gated Clouds: Private clouds and the advantages of converting your existing infrastructure to a cloud and the Economics of Cloud Systems - what are the cost, the risks involved. The Guru Panel will include discussions with leaders behind the web’s biggest infrastructure installations talking shop and providing insights.
Canaan Partners invests in entrepreneurs and works alongside them to turn visionary ideas into valuable companies. Since 1987, the firm has catalyzed the growth of disruptive technology startups and healthcare companies revolutionizing the practice of medicine. With $3.4 billion under management and more than 94 acquisitions and 54 IPOs to date, Canaan has funded companies such as Acme Packet, Associated Content (acquired by Yahoo), CommerceOne, DoubleClick (acquired by Google), ID Analytics (acquired by LifeLock), Match.com (acquired by IAC), SandForce (acquired by LSI), SuccessFactors (acquired by SAP) and Virsto Software (acquired by VMware), as well as notable healthcare companies such as Advanced BioHealing (acquired by Shire), BiPar Sciences (acquired by Sanofi), Chimerix (NASDAQ: CMRX) and Elevation Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Sunovion). Current technology investments include Blurb, Kabam, Lending Club, Performance Marketing Brands, SOASTA, Tremor Video and Zoosk in the U.S.; BharatMatrimony and UnitedLex in India; and PrimeSense and LiveU in Israel. The Canaan healthcare portfolio includes emerging leaders such as Liquidia Technologies, Civitas Therapeutics and DICOM Grid. Canaan maintains a presence in the global innovation hubs of Silicon Valley, New York City, India and Israel. For more information visit www.canaan.com or www.facebook.com/canaanpartners.
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