Most of our local startups get off to a good start. They convert the concept to a working demo, get few customers, but then are lost in to how to take it to the next step. Some initiatives like MITCEF Business Acceleration Plan (BAP) help in this regard but they are for more established entities.
I met MAX99 team some time back. A two-man army who is working from home and has been able to amass 0.8 million users for their mobile j2me based chat client. Even with this impressive number of userbase, they have not been able to clearly identify a monetization and growth path.
Dr. Umar Saif and Khurram Gracicously agreed to provide advice to them in an informal setting and I was an observer. A very interesting conversation followed at SAIF Center (I will cover complete story of my visit in another post).
MAX99 is heavily inspired by MIG33, a mobile chat platform which has successfully amassed 40 million users and have closed 3 rounds of funding. Farhan and Aftab were asked a lot of questions and they got a chance to put their own thoughts on the table and get either validation and rebuttal for them. The conversation clarified the vision of young entrepreneurs; all possibilities were discussed: re-branding the services, selling as VAS to telcos etc.
Farhan and Aftab showed us a preview of new version that they will be launching soon. The upcoming version aggregates not only chat rooms but adds quite a few new features – some of them directly aimed at making revenues.
We identified a service partnership (details of which will be revealed later), which MAX99 should be working on as their immediate next goal. The following is a brief summary of the meeting.
- They took 1.5 years to reach this number of 0.8 million users. In the same time span they should reach 10 million (i.e in another 1.5 years they should reach 10 million users). If they cannot, it means they are doing some thing wrong. To achieve that they need to add virality in their app, by asking these simple questions.
- Why would a user be compelled to add his friend?
- What would drive his friend to join the service?
- They should think very deeply about their architecture and its ability to scale. The discussion went from business to technical (learned a few new technologies that I need to make myself aware of).
- A service partnership was identified on which they will work and try to generate revenues.
I will keep you updated on this thread. I am also planning to arrange more meetups like this and hope the community will keep the discussion alive.