Back in 2006, Naveen Tewari and three others were on a mission to create mKhoj, an SMS-based search product that could update users on local information and deals. However, within eight months, the co-founders realised that their model had few takers. People were not interested in using SMSes for B2B or B2C purposes. Surfing on the phone was gaining traction and large organisations were willing to advertise on mobile sites. mKhoj pivoted to InMobi and started helping clients advertise on mobile sites. In a span of two months, Tewari and his team met about 20 investors, but not a single one evinced interest.
By February 2008, InMobi’s bank balance had trickled down to the last $2,000. A last minute decision was made by Tewari to meet VC funds in the US. The move worked. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Sherpalo Ventures showed interest. A few weeks later, the VC firms jointly invested $7.1 million in InMobi. Today, the Bangalore-based InMobi is the world’s third-largest player in the fast-growing mobile advertising industry, with only Facebook and Google ahead of it.
The company has 24 offices in 17 countries. InMobi raised about $200 million from Japan’s SoftBank Corp in 2011. News reports say recently it raised $100 million in a fresh debt from a consortium of lenders led by US-based Tennenbaum Capital Partners.