Back in 2018, InMobi, a global provider of enterprise platforms for marketers, adopted Microsoft Azure and announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help marketers develop digital advertising and marketing strategies. A year later, InMobi expanded this partnership to offer marketers an integrated solution that combined the search capabilities of Microsoft Advertising with the mobile capabilities of InMobi Marketing Cloud. InMobi’s co-founder and CEO of InMobi Advertising Platform, Abhay Singhal, acknowledges that the company’s growth and innovation prowess have largely been possible because of the cloud journey they embarked on, in partnership with Microsoft.
InMobi is India’s first unicorn, a distinction it achieved it 2011 and was recognized by the Government in April 2022 as one of India’s 75 technological milestones. Founded with the mission of powering intelligent, mobile-first experiences on connected devices, InMobi has become one of the world’s largest players in digital advertising and consumer technology. The company is rapidly expanding its presence across geographies, customers, and industries, and continues to innovate at a furious pace.
In a conversation with Lathika Pai, Country Head, Venture Capital & PE Partnerships, Microsoft India at Microsoft Future Ready Startup Week, Singhal discussed what it means to innovate, go global, and be future-ready.
Edited excerpts from the conversation follow:
On taking the cloud route…
We are a “cloud native” company today, but when we started out in 2007, we owned and operated our infrastructure. InMobi’s cloud transformation journey began in 2015-16 when we were scaling up globally and realized that infrastructure planning simply took up too much time. With the cloud, scaling up infrastructure was no longer a problem. Moreover, it increased our speed of innovation. Most importantly, it enabled us to work with our strategic partners and innovate directly for our customers. Microsoft has been one of our most important strategic partners in this journey, and there are many global initiatives that we have been working on, together.
On achieving scale, differentiation, and profitability…
Innovation happens at the edge of the known and the unknown. We know that technology can work at huge scale, where we can deliver trillions of ads per month. We also know that there will be increasing focus on consumer privacy and enterprise privacy, going forward. To make innovation possible, you need to be able to join data sets or disconnected pieces of information. All innovations at InMobi are based on addressing tech or information voids that come with joining different knowledge sets that we and our partners own.
Scale comes through driving innovation and weaving technology unobtrusively into the consumer experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the core of creating such experiences, but the inputs you feed into the AI system and your organization’s preparedness to do it effectively are equally important. You could easily get caught up with infrastructure issues instead of working backward from the problem, as you ought to be doing. The problem we are trying to solve today is the same as 15 years ago – how do we make ads more relevant so that consumers can watch them without feeling frustrated. It’s just that the contours of the problem have changed today.
At InMobi, we have the tools, technologies, and solutions to create the world’s biggest data lake. We direct our engineers and data scientists to look at ways of creating a mechanism for integrating our partners data with it, including data from the many areas that we’re working on with Microsoft. How can we bring these different information sets together to innovate? That’s the culture we’re trying to build at InMobi – a cloud-first, cloud-native culture of innovation.
On being future-ready…
I would feel future-ready if my data infrastructure team were to tell me that they’ve created an infrastructure that can power hundreds of experiments at any time. To be able to put data to good use–that’s what makes me feel future-ready. People say all the time that they don’t have the right infrastructure or the ability to match the data. In my opinion, if you can’t find a way to bring these pieces together, you can never be future-ready.
Advice for young entrepreneurs…
It’s more a personal belief than a piece of advice, that life doesn’t happen once your startup is successful; it happens while you are building the startup. I have seen people put everything else on hold while their startup is being built. Nurturing a startup is a never-ending journey; live your life to the fullest as you do it.