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Anupam MittalThe fund man behind Ola, Shaadi & many more Published On: Thursday, August 20, 2015 Views 5644

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Often mistaken as a model yet the media-shy – Anupam Mittal is the Founder and CEO of the People Group.

Recognized as one of the most innovative enterprises in the country; some of the most famous ventures founded by the group include businesses like Shaadi.com, Makaan.com and Mauj Mobile.

Besides his operational role at People Group, Anupam is also known to be one of the most successful Angel Investors, Founding Member & Past Chairman of the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and also the Founding Co-chair of H2 India.

Personally speaking, Anupam the MBA in Operations and Strategic Management from the Boston College in USA is married to model Aanchal Kumar and is currently based in Mumbai. Professionally a model turned actress, Aanchal quite a known figure amongst the model fraternity and has also bagged multiple modelling awards. To add to that, she has also done some cameo roles in movies like Bluffmaster & Fashion and had also appeared in the 4th season of reality show Bigg Boss.

How Did He Begin His Career?

Born to a marwadi family – Mr. Gopal Krishna Mittal and Mrs. Bhagawatidevi Gopal Krishna Mittal on the 23rd of December 1971, Anupam has had a very humble beginning.

After completing his schooling, Anupam had moved to the United States in the mid-90s to pursue his MBA, after which he had also joined a company called Micro Strategy, a business intelligence software firm, as a Product Manager.

Now this was the time when the internet had begun to boom in the States and internet companies like Netscape were the first ones from the internet world to get an IPO, giving hopes to the others as well. Clearly, internet had become the talk of the town and was on the verge of changing the world.

Anyways, his career had just begun and to focus on the same, he used to come back to India only once a year, basically just to chill. While he was in India, because he didn’t have much to do, sitting at his father’s office he used to take up web development work for other companies around the mid-90s.

During the same time, he came across one of those typical & traditional matchmakers from the early days, who would do just about anything to get you hitched. Maintaining his reputation, he also tried to set Anupam with some of his clients. While he reached his peak of the push, an idea struck Anupam, which changed his life for good!

Why & How Was People Group Formed?

Now while he was trying to get rid of the matchmaker, it suddenly struck Anupam that what if there was a portal which could act as a virtual matchmaker for marriages, what if all the information such men held were put up on the World Wide Web and were made accessible for those searching for a bride or a groom. This would not only remove all the inefficiencies and address the geographical limitations, but would also ease out the process drastically.

Initiation

Hence, without thinking much, in 1997 Anupam launched the first version and called it sagaai.com. Obviously, this was more of an experiment than a stable business at that point. Even though he was indeed involved in the business as well, but it was mainly on the weekends or so, and his main focus still remained at his job.

He put in all the money he had or had saved for the development of the web module, simply because that was the thing which drove the money in.

Now an interesting turn of event took place around 2000-2001, when the dot com bubble busted and most the businesses around it crashed drastically.

Micro Strategy, the company that he was working with at that point, which had a valuation of roughly $50 billion pre-dot com bust, had completely gone down as well.

During the same time, Anupam happened to come across Shariah [SP].com, and noticed that there were a lot of people who were sincerely trying to find life partners there in the United States.

He saw that there was a real big pain-point that they could actually solve, and that this held huge potential too!

Another Breakthrough

After running his website for almost three years in India, he had understood that India had very little internet penetration and it still had a long distance to travel before it became a credible business. Clearly India was far away from the Internet boom, and so Anupam decided to shift his focus to the United States market.

Now even though shaadi.com technically had begun in 1996, but only around 2000-2001 is when they really started focusing on it as a business and started to put all the energy they had behind it.

And since the US market had almost crashed, the thought of quitting the job and moving back started to arise. And frankly, it only made sense to come back, because jobs back in the started to fade away and it wouldn’t have been long before his job went as well.

Hence, after deep thinking and calculations, Anupam in 2001 quit his job at Micro Strategy, moved back to India, changed the name from Sagaai.com to Shaadi.com and completely diverted his focus.

Now once the decision was made, he had to narrow down his target audience, and while at it he understood that there was a bigger need for the service like Shaadi.com amongst the NRI’s, or ex-pats from the UK, the U.S., and Canada, simply because these people were geographically distant from their homeland’s yet were looking to get married within their relevant communities, but since they had no way to find the right one, they found it really difficult. That’s where Shaadi.com could come into picture!

Having said that; Anupam quickly set up his office in the US and started aggressive marketing of his product in the US.

From the time he left his job until about 2005, all the company did was just focused on shaadi.com to transform it into a preferred place to find life partners for Indians all over the world.

After the US market was established, Anupam then moved to the UK market as well a few years later. Later, awareness being one of the biggest problems for the company, he also began doing television campaigns in India.

Challenges

Since their initiation, the company has also faced numerous challenges as well. To begin with; until about 2005-06 people barely understood what the company did and then again, hiring people, more specifically the right kind of people was a different pain altogether. To add to that, getting advertisements was equally hard as well. Plus, the cultural barriers efficiently play their part to make things worse for them too!

Anyways moving on, subsequently Anupam also started with Mauj.com & Makaan.com People Pictures (producer of the movie ‘99’) for the same reason that he spotted a pain-point and believed that, his solution could be the ultimate solution!

Now the other reason they launched these sites was also because Anupam believed that at that time competitive intensity was very low and were pretty unsure where exactly would the future growth come from, hence, these sites were launched as a de-risking strategy.

And today the People Group has transformed into a wide range of successful companies which have managed to successfully leave their mark in all walks of life.

People Group As It Is!

Let’s give you a more inside look of what all the People Group has created so far!

Formed in 1996; Anupam Mittal is the Chairman and Managing Director of People Group. Under the banner, the company has created businesses like Shaadi.com, Fropper.com, Shaaditimes.com, Makaan.com, Astrolife.com and Shaadi Point, MAUJ Telecom & 7007, and produced films like Flavors, and 99 (People Pictures), and Purple Media.

people group

While it is widely believed that the group’s origins are traced back to the beginning of Shaadi.com in 1996, but in actuality the Group was formally launched in 2004, primarily to explore opportunities in the Internet and Mobile space.

With an employee base of over 1197 people across 12 regional and three global offices; the primary business of the Group runs around the consumer Internet and mobile value-added services (VAS) sectors, and is segregated into three companies—People Interactive, People Infocom and People Pictures.

People Interactive

Formally, it is known to be the consumer internet wing of the company, under which some of the most successful ventures of the group such as – Shaadi.com, Makaan.com and Fropper.com (friendship and social networking service), are listed.

1. Shaadi.com – To begin with; their revenue model is also pretty simple & straightforward. After both the parties have found their match and only when you’ve found somebody is when one has to pay, until that point the service is completely free of charge. Their fee is relatively moderate and ranges from US$60 to US$400 depending on the service the customer chooses.

Now the beauty of this model is that, shaadi.com is one of the few internet companies which has crossed the barriers and has become profitable. And it’s purely because of the model they have adopted. Here in their case, unlike the other internet businesses, 100% of their revenue is theirs and there are no middlemen that they have to pay to, and no product cost as well.

shaadi

And clearly, Shaadi.com which had started as an experimental idea has now transformed into a global matchmaker which has touched the lives of 2 cr (20 million) people globally and now also records to about 3.2 million marriages all across the globe. The site today controls roughly 40% of the US$1 billion Indian match-making business. It is also known to be the world’s oldest and most successful matrimonial service.

To add on to the experience, shaadi.com also has offline Shaadi Centres and operates 100 Shaadi Centers in 87 Indian cities.

2. Makaan.com – Makaan.com, which is a part of Elara Technologies Pte Limited, Singapore (a rarely known fact) is one of the fastest growing property-related websites in India. Another piece of trivia is that, its parent company Elara also owns and operates PropTiger.com, a digital real estate marketing and transactions services provider.

The site had seen a missing gap and hence, was primarily established with a sole purpose of connecting buyers and sellers in matters of real estate.

makaan

The uniqueness or rather USP of Makaan.com is that it also has a property intelligence portal called MakaanIQ. Through this property intelligence portal Makaan.com aims to provide actionable intelligence to the real estate industry in India, which quite frankly is close to non-existent.

To give you a little briefer insights about MakaanIQ – in simpler terms, it is a tool that offers the users the benefit of information, intelligence and tools that helps the helps property seekers and real estate industry players, to take informed property decisions. From the range of services that MakaanIQ offers, some of them include – latest news on the Indian real estate sector and analysis of the property trends across major Indian cities.

Additionally; Makaan.com Property Index (MPI) and Makaan.com Buy v/s Rent Index (MBRI) are two very important monthly indexes that has been released by MakaanIQ, which keeps a track of property and rental prices across the country.

Recently, around November 2014, News Corp – a global media, book publishing and digital real estate Services Company took a 25% stake in Elara.

People Infocom

Formally speaking, people infocom is a Managed Services Provider to Telecom Operators, Media-Entertainment Companies and Consumer Brands. In simple terms, this wing of the company manages applications of various companies and facilitates content on them through its popular brand – Mauj Mobile.

1. Mauj Mobile – A lesser known name – Mauj Mobile, is still widely known to be one of India’s most Innovative Mobile Content and Applications company which primarily collects and distributes content and applications from various sources from across the world through several operators.

Mauj Mobile specializes in premium apps, games, content marketplaces, etc both in the domestic and international markets.

mauj mobile

With over a million downloads a day and more than 20 million User Visits per month, Mauj is a fast growing mobile company from India.

Some of Mauj Mobile’s products include (Sources: www.mauj.com): – Mauj.com: Entertainment videos and casual gaming products for smartphone users.

Mobango.com: A store for Free Apps, Games and Videos. And a user can not only download an application for free, but also publish, convert, and share with friends all kinds of user generated content -via the web and mobile devices.

AppyStore.in: A store for some of the Best Apps, Games & Videos for kids upto 6 years of age for fun learning.

M3 Billing API: It is a Single Operator billing API across 5 top telcom companies in India to enable in-app purchases.

People Pictures

As the name itself suggests, this company is into the media production business and was mainly founded to explore the market for new-age Indian cinema. So far the company has produced movies like Flavors (2005) – an NRI cult hit released and 99 (2009), the biggest hit of that summer.

Other Angel Investments Of Anupam

Anupam had at a very early stage seen that, it was not humanly possible for him to start any more companies after a certain point and hence, he had taken the route of Angel Investments.

Since a long time now, Anupam has been ruling the Angel Investment market with the valuations of the companies he has invested in, hitting the roof.

In a total, Anupam has made a total of 40 investments including companies like – Interactive Avenues, Ola Cabs, Druva, Sapience, Pretty Secrets, Café Zoe, ZAPR, IndiaCollegeSearch, ZapStitch, Zepo, Near.in, Truebil, Betaout, and many others.

Achievements

  • Received the Karamveer Puraskar
  • Listed in ‘50 Most Powerful People in India’ by Business Week
  • Listed in ‘Top 100 NRIs in North America’
  • Awarded as the ‘Entrepreneur of Year’ by IT People
  • Listed as ‘25 People to watch out for’ by ‘The Week’ Magazine
  • Listed in the ‘IMPACT Digital Power 100 list’ for the years 2012, 2013, and 2014

Author:

“A businessman by blood, but a business writer out of passion”! As a Business Writer; Karan’s forte lies in writing some really interesting Case Studies about Companies/Eminent Personalities covering aspects which certainly, would not bore you to death!

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