In 2011, when telecom operator Aircelwanted to launch a digital campaign for its "Save Our Tigers" initiative, it turned to a little-known, Jaipurbased mobile applicationstartup. The firm—Queppelin Technology Solutions—came up with the idea to create a game for mobile phones, where users would get rewards saving tigers.
The game had a million downloads within three months of its launch. "I give a lot of credit to Queppelin for the success of the game," says Arvinder Singh Gujral, a general manager at Aircel. "The game provided awareness about the problems surrounding tiger conservation in India, while providingentertainment
at the same time."
at the same time."
India's large mobile market has given many startups an opportunity to make it big in the mobile apps sphere. Queppelin's 30-year-old founder, Prafulla Mathur, too, was lured by it. Mathur, who had previously worked on technology projects at Lehman Brothers and Halifax Bank of Scotland in London, returned to India about three years ago.
"I always wanted to start a venture and mobility was what excited me the most," says Mathur, who grew up in Jaipur. He chose the pink city as the base for his startup. The timing was also right as cheaper handsets, 3G technology and mobile payment solutions were coming up in the country.
"My hypothesis was that if I can start a company in the space and be there right at the inflection point it will work."
He launched the company in mid-2010 and later that year raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding. Mathur decided to take a platform approach, where a company builds mobile platforms for various industries.
The company would later customise them for clients. Its first successful product was a mobile music streaming platform, which was showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2011. It has also built a mobile commerce platform and a mobile-based sales application. Since 2011, the company has developed mobile solutions for clients such asFacebook, Times of India, Nokia, Samsung, Make My Trip and Ibibo. The company also raised another undisclosed amount of angel funding that year.
Like Queppelin, a number of mobile app developers like Robosoft Technologies and Sourcebits are focusing on the large enterprise market.
A study by research firm Gartner states that enterprise apps will generate $40 billion (about Rs 2.3 lakh crore) in sales for developers by 2016. But app developers need to go up the mobile app value chain to fully leverage this opportunity, say clients.
"For a mobile app development company to grow and be relevant, it needs to bring insights and value to the client and not just follow a client brief to develop a product," says Aircel's Gujral. Queppelin is attempting to do that by getting involved at the strategy stage and helping with distribution of the app as well.
Such services, Mathur says, allow him to charge a premium. Typically, the company charges up to Rs 20 lakh from startups and the fee can go up for large enterprises depending on the scope of work. Mathur, who is targeting $3 million (about Rs 17 crore) in revenue next fiscal, admits that it is mostly fellow startups that opt for this end-to-end solutions package.
Earlier this year, the company started working with healthcare startup iClinic Healthcare, a company that connects health specialists remotely with patients. Queppelin is building the back-end IT platform that will allow patients to virtually interact with doctors, have video chats with them and send digital reports.
"We did the pilots last week and the quality of interaction on the platform is very good," says Sanjoy Mukerji, founder of iClinic and former chief commercial officer of Vodafone India.
"They think with you and participate in the entire process," says Mukerji, who is getting the Queppelin team to develop the website and the mobile platform as well. The challenge now for Queppelin is to get large corporates to also opt for such end-to-end services.