MobME scripts India’s 1st campus-to-IPO story

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India has never seen the Silicon Valley kind of journey in its IT sector — a start-up on the college campus to listing on the stock exchange. This is set to change soon.

In what could be a defining moment for Indian IT industry, a company started by a bunch of college students and mentored by Kris Gopalakrishnan of Infosys is set to become the country’s first campus start-up to get listed in a stock exchange.

MobME Wireless, founded by four youngsters in 2006 while still studying engineering in Thiruvananthapuram, has filed a draft prospectus with the NSE SME exchange for raising Rs 25 crore to Rs 27.5 crore.

The firm, which employs about 100 people, was established with an initial capital of just $500,000 million and has Technology Development Board, a government of India entity, as a 5 per cent shareholder. Malayalam cinestar Mammootty also owns a small stake.

The IPO by MobME, of Kochi, may encourage several other peer companies to venture into the capital market.

The company provides value-added services, among other things, to telecom operators and hopes to benefit from the smart phone boom in India.

“We could have gone and listed on the main board as we have a three-year profit track record,” said Sanjay Vijaykumar. He, along with three friends – a college mate at College of Engineering and one at Sree Chitra Thirunal College of Engineering had raised seed capital by selling SIM cards and recharge coupons to friends.

“We all are friends from school,” he said. They were inspired by big success stories at the ‘Valley.’ Several big IT firms, from Microsoft to Apple, Google to Cisco, had all emerged from Silicon Valley. “There are no such examples in India though the IT sector... saw the emergence of firms like Infosys, TCS and Wipro.”

Vijaykumar owns 23.91 per cent in the firm; his three friends Sony Joy and Jose Thomas Pattara own 18.26 per cent each and Vivek Steve Francis owns 9.13 per cent, according to the prospectus.

“While in college, we dreamt of becoming job creators and entrepreneurs and not job seekers,” Vijaykumar told Financial Chronicle.

As per the prospectus, MobME’s income in the year to March 2012 was Rs 23.10 crore, having grown by 185.75 per cent in four years.

Specialising in VAS and enterprise solutions, it has emerged as a major player in M-governance/ It has deployed solutions in Kerala, Goa and Nagaland. The M-governance initiative of the company in Kerala was recognised in a World Bank report called ‘Maximizing Mobile’ last year.

As it grew from its modest base, the company got recognition from others. In 2011 Nasscom called it one of the top 10 and placed it among ‘Emerge 50 innovation category.’

MobME is also the first Kerala IT company to go public and be listed. The state had entered the IT sector in the early 1990s.

Vijaykumar said the company was betting on the smart phone story in India. It will offer services including digital signature.

IDBI Capital Market is the book running lead manager for the issue.

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