If I were Kavin Mittal’s father, I’d smile and feel proud. After all, Sunil Bharti Mittal had the same streak. A son’s first hero is his father and it’s almost full circle now.
Founder of Hike Messaging app and son of Bharti Enterprises chairman, Sunil Mittal, Kavin feels his dad’s company is quite boring. When asked, “Which do you think is a cooler company- Hike or Airtel?” He quickly replied, “It’s Hike any day,” with a cheeky smile on his face. It’s true creative innovations are cooler than business-centric service providers.
Speaking about the messaging app’s target audience at the Digital India Summit, 2017, Kavin argued his case with a maturity and understanding very few 29-year-olds can.
“We have 140-150 million daily active internet users in the country and around 85-90 million people come from colleges and school. And they are by far the most active as they have a lot of time on their hands. They consume the most content, they are messaging the most,” he said discussing his belief.
He also had a word or two for telecom companies like Airtel. “The problem is people don’t realize how disruptive the internet is. It is as disruptive as what happened in the Industrial Revolution. The Internet makes distribution free”.
Kavin has done more for his company in five years than his father did in the same time period for Airtel.
He founded hike Messenger on 12 December 2012 and received initial funding of $21 million from Bharti Softbank and $65 million from Tiger Global. Within 3 years, hike has grown to become the largest Indian internet company by users – with a tally of 100 million users. By July 2014, it was the most downloaded application on both the India Apple app store and the Google Play store for Android devices. It was designed to challenge Whatsapp and it surely is doing that.
He recently featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list for challenging conventions and making an impact in today’s world. It was largely on the basis of 2016 going down as the milestone year for Hike. The four-year-old startup became a unicorn last year when it was valued at $1 billion.
His father couldn’t manage that. Airtel is a global telecom company with 400 million subscribers. Its total assets are worth over $35 billion. It operates in 18 countries.
Of course, Kavin, even in jest, wasn’t talking about assets and worth. He was talking about what future holds. He was saying its cooler to create and innovate, something that Airtel never had to do. Theirs was a pure business for profit from word go.
Hike has not even begun profiting. Kavin says the instant app will start monetization in 2019 after having a comfortable critical mass on the product. This is a new-age strategy that promises exponential future growth.
Perhaps, that’s why even I think Hike is cooler than Airtel.