Not many would have missed the television advertisement for a leading mobile connectivity provider where as a lady walks down the road, her personal entertainment follows her too. Today, this is a big market, and with an estimated 160 million mobile Internet users globally over the next two to three years, this segment is on the verge of exponential growth. Apart from India, other emerging markets such as south Asia and Africa are also slated to see a similar growth.
Our strength is our end-to-end approach and our partnership with many of the leading content providers.
Vamshi Reddy and Shiva Bayyapunedi realised this potential and started Apalya Technologies (Apalya) in 2005. The company offers technologies through its mobile video delivery platform that enable accessing entertainment on the mobile phone and in the process integrates mobile operators, content owners and mobile advertisers. Capitalising on the changing demographics of the viewers, the company aggregates premium entertainment content from several content providers and optimises it to fit small screen or mobile viewing. “India’s penetration on mobile phones has been outstanding and we knew that as technologies evolve, India will be in the forefront of adopting mobile Internet. And mobile video or entertainment on the go would be a strong need,” explains Reddy.
Reddy and Bayyapunedi dreamt of starting a venture together at some point, even as they studied engineering in the same college. Though each pursued his career separately, working outside India – Reddy with CISCO in the U.S. and Bayyapunedi with Wipro for a Nokia project in Finland – the urge to do something on their own brought them together and thus, Apalya was born.
Founders: Vamshi Reddy and Shiva Bayyapunedi
USP: Specialises in enabling TV content on the mobile
Funding: Mumbai Angels (seed), IDG Ventures and Qualcomm (Series A and B), Indo US Venture Partners (Series B)
The Hyderabad-based company was initially funded by Mumbai Angels for US $ 0.5 million and it subsequently raised Series A funding from Bengaluru-based IDG and US-based Qualcomm for US $ 3 million. In 2011, it also raised Series B funding from Bengaluru-based Indo US Venture Partners, IDG Ventures and Qualcomm for US $7.5 million. This will be used to expand its portfolio of services and its technology platform to leverage the vast mobile-TV opportunity from the upcoming large scale rollout of 3G services in India.
Entertainment goes mobile
“One of our challenges has been with delayed deployment of high speed networks, hence we focussed on developing solutions to work on existing network conditions,” explains Reddy. With 3G adoption slowly picking up, he is confident that Apalya is at the cusp of an explosive growth. The vision for the company is to enable entertainment everywhere. “We expect to achieve this by enabling the ecosystem partners to believe and work together towards it,” he adds.
Currently, Apalya powers all the operator-led mobile – TV offerings, and in a way, most of the marketing is being done by the operators themselves as word-of-mouth reference. Apalya gets a share of the revenue paid by the end-user to the telecom operator, which is then split with the content partners. The company works with all the mobile service providers in the country and over 200 content providers – national and international. “Mimobi.tv is our platform through which we deliver the content across connectivity technology type, right from GPRS, CDMA to 3G,” says Reddy. Myplex.tv is a new platfrom that is in a beta stage, for ordering and watching movies and TV shows across all platfroms ( mobile, PC, Smart TV etc.)
In fact, the first successful demonstration Apalya did was for Idea Cellular in 2006 and there on, there has been no looking back. “We have separate teams to work with the content providers, the telecom networks and even in telecom circles to source local content,” explains Reddy. The technology is ready not only to deliver content on mobile phones but even other media such as laptops, smartphones and more. Its technology picks the type of device and the type of network being used and delivers the content accordingly. Typically, the user can subscribe through the operator or through app stores and the likes.
Apalya has been growing at a rate of three times year-on-year, with significant contribution coming from the evolving high-speed networks and also from smart phone penetration. It currently has a subscriber base of seven million, which it expects to triple in the coming year. It is already exploring the south Asian and African markets, where the markets are emerging and currently at a level where India was when Apalya first entered the market. “Our strength is our end-to-end approach and our partnership with many of the leading content providers,” says Reddy.
Its current team size is close to 110 people. “Initially, we had challenges hiring talent from business schools and top institutions, but now that we are established, we see more folks wanting to work in a startup environment like ours,” says Reddy. To keep up with the changing technologies, Apalya has invested in a strong research and development team, which is always focussed on looking at evolving technologies and adapting it to the existing platform.
Reddy and Bayyapunedi are upbeat about Apalya’s position in the market. Though competition is inevitable, the duo believes that Apalya has established itself as a leader and its pioneer status in the market provides it with deep insights on customer behaviour and understanding. And that will surely stand it in good stead in the times ahead.
Entertainment that’s mobile!
Today, mobile technology is an integrated, multipurpose solution that is used not only for voice communication or text messaging but accessing the Internet too. And it was a given that the next step would be watching TV while on the move. Anticipating this development, two friends Vamshi Reddy and Shiva Bayyapunedi, came together in 2005 to start Hyderabad-based Apalya Technologies. Most TV channel operators have now partnered with the fledgling company to have their content streamed to the mobile handsets.
The company has managed to raise seed funding followed by two rounds of funding, which have been used for strengthening its technology and delivery solutions. The young founders are depending on Apalya’s first-mover advantage and understanding of the market to keep competition at bay.
- Tata Teleservices signed an exclusive deal with Apalya for offering live streaming of the Asia Cup Cricket tournament in Sri Lanka for Tata Indicom and Tata DoCoMo in June 2010
- Apalya TV brought IPL 2010 action live on iPhone and Android phone. It plans to repeat it this year by streaming IPL 2012
- ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) signed up with Apalya and announced a separate channel on mobiles in July 2010
- Tata Docomo selected Apalya as its exclusive partners for providing mobile TV services on 3G platform across India
- Discovery Networks Asia Pacific (DNAP) and Apalya have entered into a strategic partnership to stream Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Turbo and Discovery Science on GPRS mobiles
- Reliance Communications (RCom) has tied up to offer mobile TV to its 3G subscribers
- Multi-Screen Media Pvt. Ltd. (formerly SET India Pvt. Ltd.) has announced a strategic partnership with Apalya to offer content from its general entertainment channels on the mobile platform
- Currently, Apalya TV offers a vast range of programmes, right from children’s programmes to entertainment, movies, news and devotional