Sunday, April 10, 2016

Startup Story

Every startup has an origin story. As the story grows, the origin story changes for PR accordingly,but the basic formula is that 2-3 founders start in garage/room and make it big etc. And it is important that your startup has a story,because stories sell. You will read similar stories about Ozonetel in PR. About how we planned to change the face of business communication etc. We will leave those stories to PR. In this blog, we will deal with the truth.

I had been associated with CSN since 2004-2005(thats another story). So in 2007, when CSN and Atul started Ozonetel they asked me if I wanted to be part of the startup. And since I knew both of them and trusted them, I said ok. At that time, we had no concrete idea on what to do. We had a couple of ideas. We knew we wanted to do something in the telecom space. We knew we wanted to build for the SMEs and we knew we wanted to do it in India and "make" in India. So before KooKoo was born, the following were the products we built and sold and stopped:

1. UAG(Unified Access gateway), a box solution that offers comprehensive network security gateway for the organization with fine granularity. UAG offer Firewall, VPN, Traffic management, Web filtering, Gateway Anti-Virus and Anti spam and more, with high availability feature that ensures maximum network uptime and uninterrupted access.

2. Hosted VXML platform. Did not fly as there were not enough VXML developers.

3. Direct hardware play by selling the PRI cards we had designed and manufactured.

4. UDM(Unified Data Manager), it was a Unified Platform for file sharing, storage consolidation, backup and recovery, virtualization and replication. The Unified approach offers excellent price-to-performance ratio, enhanced manageability, and increased productivity. UDM provides a simple and efficient way for enterprises to handle data protection, recovery and information management. UDM offers a scalable platform to meet your needs far into the future

We also did services and built the IVR solutions for GE,Uninor and Loop mobile.

But throughout this journey, we always were building the core of our platform and though we did not know it at that time, all the products we built helped us in making KooKoo and Cloudagent as robust as they are today.

November 2010 was the turning point as we launched KooKoo and for some reason everything just fell in place. The company found a common goal, we stopped all other products and just concentrated on Cloud telephony. The rest as they say, is history. KooKoo and Cloudagent took off and are doing pretty well right now.

The reason I revisited the past was to explain our future. As I mentioned above, we have always prided our-self in being an Indian company serving Indian customers. In fact,since overall, we have done more than 50 crore worth of business, and since all our products are home made, thats 50 crore that did not go to entities like Avaya which are outside India. And we have always felt proud that we were able to give Indian startups and SMEs the best of the technology for the best of the price.

That said, this month we took the painful step of becoming a Singapore entity. The decision was taken after lot of thought and was necessitated by a lot of factors. Nothing changes for our customers. Everything remains the same, but Ozonetel main office will now be Singapore. The following is a Q&A on our decision from our CEO,CSN Murthy.

1. Why Singapore and why not US or stay in India?
Tax advantage to investors. Zero capital gains. Note convertibles are possible. In India I can't even take a loan from non-directors.
2. Why move to Singapore from India?
Raising angel money is easier.
Clients, VCs and potential M&A suitors  find it easy to do business if you are Singapore company. 
3. How long does it take to move?
Depends on the stage of your company is in. It's easier to do if you are in early stages of the venture and not have too much of revenue and not many share holders on the cap table. It takes 6 months if you are already into revenues.
4. Main reason to move
Mainly to raise money from investors.
5. What do customers prefer, US entity, India entity or Singapore entity.
Indian customer doesn't really care unless you have started as a US entity with US customers in your kitty. Then the brand perception is different. But as an Indian entity flipping to US doesn't change your brand value. Customers here are anyhow price conscious.

So, this is a new step in our startup journey. Please wish us luck. 

If you have any questions, would love to answer them. In case you have questions on moving to Singapore and the process involved, please do mail us and we will try to respond with what we know.