Deepak Ravindran – Innoz

Deepak Ravindran – founder of Innoz is a great young entrepreneur whose work I follow.

There are many achievements of Innoz but its all the creditable because of his true entrepreneurial spirit ..

See this trending presentation on slideshare ..

Deepak sent me this profile which I have now updated on the blog

I am a 25 year old entrepreneur and the Chief Executive Officer of Innoz, a leading mobile technology company based in India. “Some years ago – never mind how long precisely…nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.” This (modified) opening quote from Melville’s Moby Dick perfectly captures my state of mind when I ventured out as an entrepreneur to avoid the job-seeking rat race and pursue something new.

I’ve always wanted to become an entrepreneur. My fascination with computers and internet began on a Pentium III & 56 kbps modem. The internet opened me a whole new world, i was hooked. I’ve always enjoyed wide-open pursuits where I can create and be unconstrained.

While in highschool, As a 16 year old boy, I sourced and sold tech magazines & cd’s  to fund my pocket money, while other kids were busy saving Super Mario’s girlfriend.

I founded Swades Solutions, in 2005 an offshore Web design/SEO firm. However, I did not take it forward to pursue a bigger dream. From the confidence of my first venture i moved to bigger and bigger ideas, realized that chasing bigger dreams give you more bigger space to think. I Never felt bad in failing , and never stopped experimenting stuff either. I also launched an ecommerce / deal website Just4sale.in in the summer vacation of highschool and sold it to a friend of mine by the time I got admission for college.

At the age of 21, after joining Kannur University to study Computer science, I dropped out of college and co-founded Innoz along with my 3 other friends – Hisam, Ashwin and Abhinav.

We started a service SmsGYAN as our final year project. It instantly became a raving success inside our college campus which soon spread to other parts of the state and country.

Internet penetration is still low in India, and the number of mobile phones have overtaken laptops and PCs. This fact had motivated us to build a cost effective platform on mobile for instant information. Everybody—irrespective of age, location or vocation—has questions to ask. These could be simple or complex. And not everyone with a doubt has access to the Internet to get the answers.

Imagine being able to get all the information you ever needed by just sending an SMS! Well, SmsGYAN does just that. SmsGYAN delivers information from the Internet on to your handset without you needing to go online. “GYAN means knowledge in Hindi & the service is known as SMSGYAN – Spreading Knowledge through innovation.

SMSGYAN which currently has around 10 million users is nominated for Limca Book of Records 2012 for the largest offline search in the world. We have been able to answer more than 500 million questions from all parts of the country.

Never thought that I would become the person I am right now, but I never stopped in doing what I love. And I keep on doing it. My Greatest achievement is building a company that has integrity and a culture I’m proud of. I just turned 25 this year and was happy to find myself fortunate to be leading a team of more than 25 full-time employees having a wide range of experience and skill sets- some of them who joined from companies like Google & Facebook.
When we had dropped out of college to pursue our dreams, it was very difficult for us to convince our families, peers and faculty about our goal of being an entrepreneur, because every guy next door would prefer to opt for a well-paid job and soon get married.
Now here is a generation mind-set shift where we became job creators instead of job seekers and went ahead to recruit 70% of the staff from the same college. In fact, no one at our company ever misses college life because we consider ourselves to be a group of friends doing business.

Before dropping out of college, along with the other co-founders of Innoz, I have represented India in the finals of the DFJ-CISCO Global Business Plan Competition 2009 alongside the Georgia and Stanford teams.

In fact, my reason to drop out of college in 2009, while in the final semester was to join the iAccelerator’09 program in which we received the first external source of funding and were invited to join the incubator at Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship at IIM Ahmedabad.

Nowadays, I am frequently invited to student events at college campuses to motivate other young student turned entrepreneurs.

Innoz was selected as the Red Herring Global 100 and Asia 100 winner for 2010 as well as Nasscom Top 8 Emerging Companies in India for 2010.

I was among the MIT Technology Review outstanding innovators under 35, for the year 2011 and also an INK Fellow for 2011 in association with TED. I am also a fellow of a.) the Startup Leadership Program (SLP) which is a world-class training initiative of TiE Boston for outstanding founders, leaders and innovators who are or want to be startup CEOs and wish to be connected to a global network and b.) YCE, an organisation that creates opportunities worldwide and brings together digital entrepreneurs who use new technologies to deliver creative activities.

Ranked among the top C Level Tweeters around the world alongside Richard Branson, Evan Williams, Guy Kawasaki, Tony Hsieh and others I have a strong social media presence on Linkedin, Facebook & Quora.

My work has appeared in Forbes, MIT, The Sydney morning Herald, Economic Times, Times of India, Bloomberg UTV, Business Standard and more than a hundred other magazines, newspapers and blogs.

I believe Persistence is the key to success – There was initial trouble in cracking business deals with the telecom companies in India and having multiple doors slammed at my face. My being so young and carrying a CEO card seemed to amuse the MNC telcos.

One fine day at the Airtel campus in Gurgaon, I was lucky to meet and convince the head of new products inside a coffee shop. Through him, we cracked our first deal with Airtel, one of India’s biggest telecom operator. Very soon, all the other major operators in India – Vodafone, Aircel, Idea, Loop Mobile, Tata Docomo etc. were keen to avail our service. Currently, Innoz is working with the leading technology partners across the globe such as Wikipedia, Zomato, Rotten Tomatoes, Wolfram Alpha, Snapdeal, Vuclip, Wordnik, Justeat.in, Worldweatheronline, Bing etc. At the moment, around 50 Innozites work dedicatedly towards helping Innoz realize its vision – to become the best place for people to find information on mobile.