Bharti SoftBank or BSB, an equal equity mobile Internet joint venture between Bharti Enterprises (the private group holding firm of Bharti Group) and Japan’s telecom and Internet company SoftBank, is less than a year old (10 months to be precise), but it has already launched or struck deals with companies to launch a couple of new products. These include the Hoppr- a location based check-in service, Hike, a peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging app and the proposed mobile portal in the works (along with Yahoo Japan).
Techcircle.in caught up Kavin Bharti Mittal, BSB’s head of strategy & new product development, to get a lowdown on the strategy and product roadmap (watch out for a separate detailed interview).
“Partner, build, acquire- that is our strategy going forward,” said Kavin who also happens to be one of twin sons of group chief Sunil Bharti Mittal. He was quick to add that even as the firm has three-pronged strategy, it would be involved more in the incubating and partnering space rather than acquiring.
According to him, “One misconception that people have is that we have a $100-million fund. That is not true. We plan to invest in our startups early. Each startup has funding for a year and we will re-evaluate at the end of the year to see if the objectives have been achieved. This is the model we would be following in the future,” he stated.
Its strategy till date has been a mix of build, partner and acquire.
BSB had acquired a 49 per cent stake in a digital startup Y2CF Digital Media early this year. Y2CF had earlier launched what was a location-based deals site Musstbuy, but has now refocused its strategy on the mobile Internet space in line with objective of BSB. Kavin said Musstbuy (though last we checked, it was still alive) has in-effect been replaced with Hoppr, a mobile check-in service.
Its messaging app Hike, which went live on beta mode last month (more on that here), was built by BSB grounds up.
The firm had also announced two months ago that it has partnered with Yahoo Japan to build an India-specific mobile portal.
Kavin also shared a sneak preview of the next project. The fourth project is going to be in mobile gaming space and will be announced by the year end, he told Techcircle.
Going forward BSB would like to address other consumer-oriented pain points in the mobile space. “There are a lot of whitespaces in the mobile spaces. Being a young startup, it poses huge opportunities for us ahead,” Kavin stated.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)