He is the son of one of the most successful businessmen in India, but rather than join the family business, he chose to start from scratch. And Kavin Mittal, 27, son of Bharti Group chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, dreams that his fledgeling enterprise, Hike Messenger app for smart phones, will eventually grow into as big a company as Airtel.
“We have a long way to go. But our goal is to get there one day,” Mittal told Hindustan Times. Hike is backed by Bharti Group, Japan’s Soft Bank and venture fund Tiger Global. “The learning curve will be high when you move out of your comfort zone,” he said, about striking out on his own.
Launched in December 2012, Hike has 35 million users and bagged $80 million (`490 crore) in investments. “We have a shot at becoming the first Indian internet company with 100 million users,” he said; maybe 18 months.
The learning curve includes the need for a deep pocket. “The $65 million (`400 crore) we raised last month will last us the next 18 months,” he said.
Profitability is a long way off. “We are far from (break even). We look at 5-10 years ahead. We are focusing on building strength now, as we see the $5 billion value-added service market in telecom shifting from voice to messaging,” he said.
As of now, Hike does not plan to go overseas as India is a big enough market. “Our model works very well for emerging markets. India itself is too big a market, but we are not opposed to going to other markets,” he added.