To say that blackNgreen is just another emerging startup would be not only wrong but also greatly unfair. After all, ever since its inception in 2011, blackNgreen has witnessed continuously meteoric growth to emerge as one of the fastest growing MNCs in a very competitive industry. As a provider of cutting edge value added services (VAS) and telecom solutions, today blackNgreen boasts presence in more than 90 countries across Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.
It has been achieving growth of 30% on year-on year basis for last three years to achieve topline revenues of more than 42 Million USD. It counts high profile telecom companies like Airtel, MTN, Digicel, Orange, Telefonica and many more as its loyal clients. Securing such worthy clients would have been possible without company’s highly successful products like Magic Voice (flagship product), AdCom, TalkApp and @home.
The vision for these highly successful products came from Mr. Rahul Gupta and Mr. Karthik Shankar, the two restless and ambitious entrepreneurs who have been guiding the company since its inception in 2011. The two co-founders have traversed the company through many challenges and have successfully transformed this once humble startup into a highly successful MNC.
Techpluto spoke to co-founder Rahul Gupta in an exclusive interview. In this interview, Mr. Rahul Gupta has shed light on various important aspects like blackNgreen’s existing challenges, future projections as well as about the overall VAS industry.
Techpluto: Was it the sheer lack of creativity and innovative products in the value-added service (VAS) industry that eventually propelled you to enter in this industry?
Rahul Gupta: It is partially true. While I was already working on IVR technology, one fine day I just had a brainwave. This brainwave gave birth to Magic Voice, which became our first product. As we continued over years, we found several areas which could be disrupted, and we introduced innovations in Roaming space, Low Balance, Entertainment, Education and Fixed line Spaces. These innovations over the years have helped our telecom partners to scale up and become a global company.
Techpluto: Can you shed light on one big challenge that blackNgreen faced while scaling up the business?
Rahul Gupta: There were many challenges. Since we are a self-funded company, the primary challenge was to manage the finances. Secondly, talent acquisition and then of course lack of experience in working in international markets as well as limited connections in the global telecom market.
Techpluto: How did the idea of your first product Magic Voice came to you?
Rahul Gupta: The incident is very vivid in my memory. I had read the word ‘morphing’ somewhere on the Internet and even googled it to find the word’s precise meaning. Coincidentally, I was already working on IVR technology and all this came together and I had an intuition that this could definitely work and it did.
It took me and may team some time to sharpen the technology, but all the hard work was eventually paid off.
Techpluto: Are there any interesting products & services that blackNgreen plans to launch in the short run?
Rahul Gupta: Our focus is to expand our Gaming portfolio rapidly in coming months, with interesting games on all three platforms (IVR, WAP and APP).
We have recently launched the App version of Magic Voice called Magic APP. It’s already gone Viral in India with 3 Million downloads. We are going to launch it in another 50 countries in 3 months time.
Techpluto: blackNgreen is now aggressively focusing on Latin American market to fuel next phase of growth. Would you like to share some thoughts on the same?
Rahul Gupta: Latin American market was always a huge challenge because of the vast geographical distance and language barriers. It took us some time but we have finally managed to crack up the market and are seeing amazing response for our products already.
With the success achieved in Central America, Caribbean and Mexico, we are now able to roll out our services across Latin America with some of the major Telecom Groups in the region.
Techpluto: Which has been the one market that has been toughest to conquer for blackNgreen?
Rahul Gupta: Like I said, Latin America has been the toughest market. Entering CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region is going to be next on our target.
Techpluto: Despite blackNgreen’s impressive growth, the company has so far not raised any external funding?
Rahul Gupta: We have always believed in organic growth to build and learn as we go on expanding. However at this stage when we are looking at having a larger impact on the global scale, we may soon think of raising funds.
Techpluto: India’s telecom sector has gone through major consolidation phase during last few years. It has even led to exit of big players like Rcom and Aircel. Has this in anyway affected your India business?
Rahul Gupta: We are not present in India with Telecom operators. However, I think this consolidation has been extremely beneficial for the end users. It has helped decrease the digital divide, bringing down the entry barriers to smartphones and enabling high-speed Internet.
One of the biggest impacts it has had is that the people in remote areas & also underprivileged section can now get on the digital bandwagon. This will reduce the information and knowledge divide and give people the right tools to make the right decisions for a better life and career.
Techpluto: is there any major difference between India’s VAS industry and international VAS industry?
Rahul Gupta: We have always worked on products which have a Global appeal. So we have not usually faced this challenge. But yes there are different people, different cultures, with different interests, different languages. One has to customize the products to suit to each local market.
Techpluto: Your projection for blackNgreen for next 5 years?
Rahul Gupta: To be among the top 3 product companies, to come up with major innovations that can help us to service over 80% of Global telecom operators with over 2 billion active users on our products. Continue to disrupt the advertising industry, entertainment, gaming, low balance and fixed line segments.
Techpluto: Are there any role models that you personally look up to?
Rahul Gupta: I have always admired Steve Jobs who transformed millions of lives with his relentless commitment to future of cool technology populism. He is the one who single handedly brought computing to masses. First with Apple 2, then with iPhones.
He has single handedly disrupted several industries, like music, entertainment, computing. He created a completely new segment of Apps and App Stores and empowered millions of developers to come out with innovative product ideas.
Techpluto: One piece of advice that you would love to give to all the budding entrepreneurs?
Rahul Gupta: Just believe in your idea with full conviction, be flexible to change as more often than not your idea that you start off with initially becomes something completely different and for better. Be ready to put in insane amount of hard work. It’s not going to be easy, but don’t give up.