Raina Kumra co-founded Mavin, a mobile startup focused on affordable internet access. It’s built on the idea that the more apps you use, you get back internet usage into your account. Called Gigato, it is Mavin’s first app which calls itself a ’sponsored data platform and user engagement tool’ to benefit both end users and developers.
She also juggles her role as the CEO of Juggernaut, a digital agency and previously served as Co-Director of Innovation at the BBG, the world’s largest international media organization.
Raina who has spent over a decade in digital advertising talks to us about the idea behind forming Mavin.co, the future of internet marketing, her views on net neutrality and how digital empowers women. Excerpts:
(Raina Kumra along with her Co-Founder Shailesh Nalawadi)
What was your inspiration behind finding Mavin.co?
I’ve always worked on mass communications platforms, whether it was advertising for the aim of selling something, or working with international governments in trying to address misunderstandings. The underpinning of everything I have done in my career has always been mobile technology and freedom and access to information. While working with the US state department I came to understand exactly what the difference between an open and closed society were, and just how important affordable internet access was for each and every person on the planet. When we started to do some research on cost of mobile data in India, we found a very juicy problem that had a multitude of solutions.
What was the aim behind @GigatoApp?
Gigato is a first of its kind data rebate platform, that fulfills a two sided problem. In India, where the majority of users are on prepaid phones and data is expensive – it not only means that the users can’t get to the information, but that app publishers can’t solve the problem of people only using their apps on wifi. We wanted to address the innovation bottleneck that was being caused here for both users and developers. We wanted to create a platform that would allow users to get a free sponsored data plan, and allow app developers to rebate their customers directly for their loyalty.
What is the business module for the Gigato App?
Our model is similar to that of an advertising platform, we charge a nominal set up fee and then our partner apps are sent an invoice for the data that their users consume and for any installs that are driven from our platform.
How does your platform become an alternative to Facebook?
We certainly are not an alternative to Facebook, but we are an alternative to Internet.org and one day, when we are running at full speed, we would love to present a better discovery platform than running installs ads.
Do you think Indian Apps are at par with international Apps?
Absolutely – it is so exciting to see the startup scene moving and shaking in India as well as the Valley - and the quality and range of apps built for and by India that could one day take over other markets – that is truly thrilling to watch. It’s definitely the ground floor and a great time to be a part of it all in India.
What do you think is the future of internet?
Well there’s no future that I can imagine without it!
How should we encourage more women to use the internet?
I think women need to mentor other women, teach each other about tech they find and like and talk about it more – don’t just leave shop talk and ‘tech talk’ to the guys! We can encourage one another to seek out ways to learn something, make life easier and more efficient and keep the community tight, of people who are learning something new every day because of the internet.
Which are your favourite Apps?
My favourite apps are usually the ones you can do the most with, so my firefox browser and Spotify!
Do you think Internet should be made free in India?
I think WiFi hotspots should be as readily available and high speed as possible, but making the internet free doesn’t solve the problem for mobile.
What are your views on net neutrality?
I am personally very concerned with net neutrality and ensuring that no harm comes to the internet as we know it – a free and open channel of communication, not a restricted, throttled, walled garden one. At Mavin we are working hard every day to be net neutral compliant and our product actually helps at a macro level with keeping the internet open and not closed.
What do you think is the future of mobile marketing?
Everything is mobile, nothing else matters as much now. If you’re a company not on mobile, or you’re thinking that it is a side project – you’re off to the wrong start.
How can the digital opportunity change the future of women?
It’s not the opportunities; it’s what we do with them. We have a chance to write this story and take part in leadership of the new internet economy – but only if we take it. There’s no difference to what a man and woman can do with technology and their ideas.
How important is it for a brand to lead the campaign digitally today?
What are the three important aspects for a digital entrepreneur?
Ideate, Create and never rest on your laurels, you have to keep evolving.
How you overcame adversity in the tough times of your life?
I’m not sure, but I just decided that I wanted to be happy and make something of my life, and that’s how I moved forward no matter what.
What was the turning point in your life?
So many! But I think finally completing my education with my second master’s at Harvard university was an incredible moment for me and laid the groundwork for everything else.