After we launched MyToday in October 2006, we grew slowly for the first couple of months. We had started with CRICKET, but then launched some more SMS channels. I remember a picnic we had gone on New Year’s Eve and us celebrating the 10K unique subscriber figure. All growth was happening word-of-mouth. We had done some initial promotion on radio and through flyers, but nothing after that.
It was the New Yearof 2007 which brought a tremendous surge in growth. And the channel which powered that for us was BIBLE. The word-of-mouth growth for that had to be seen to be believed — every day saw a few thousand subscribers signing up. This was complemented by NEWS and CRICKET (perennial favourites). We also had a few ads in Mumbai local trains up that month. Suddenly, the positive spiral of growth was at work and it was like going back to the early days of some of the websites that I had launched. People loved the fact that the SMSes just came to them — they were casually interested in News or Cricket, and this was a good way to stay updated with what was happening.
Once we had the initial base, there was no looking back. Even though there have been plenty of challenges in the 20 months since Jan 2007, it has been a wonderful ride — one that has opened up new vistas in the mobile space for us. And it all came to that one decision that I had to make — to go the SMS route or not.
For entrepreneurs and managers, at times like these, we have to make an instinctive call. We of course need to evaluate the pros and cons (financial and otherwise), but one is headed into territory where it is a map and not a compass that is at hand. The direction is known, but not the specific route. For us, the direction was to create services which could reach large numbers in the mobile space. When one path did not work, we choose another — rather than wait for the environment to change. And that made all the difference.