InMobi – A Startup which is an MNC Now

In 2007, Naveen Tewari, an alumnus of Harward Business School left McKinsey to have something his own. He wanted to build something which he could call his own. He started with mKhoj along with three other equally ambitious people. They survived initial obstacles and after a big shock from giants like Google started flourishing. Today, 10 years later they have an MNC which operates successfully in China. China is a market where big guys had a flop show. InMobi is perhaps the only Indian profitable startup which has global operations.

Startup’s Start

It started as an SMS based search engine services and was named mKhoj in 2007. All founders Naveen Tewari, Mohit Saxena, Amit Gupta and Abhay Singhal started working from a residential apartment in Mumbai. It has since grown into one of India’s first Unicorns. In 2011, the company focus shifted from mobile search to mobile advertising. The company also expanded its operations in other developing nations and in the US in 2009. The company renamed as InMobi since then.

Company first funding was of $500,000 from Mumbai Angels. Since then the company had in total raised $3.2 billion in various rounds of funding.

Investors Funding Round Amount Year
Mumbai Angels Angel Funding $500,000 2007
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures Series A $7,100,000 2008
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures Series B $8,000,000 2010
Softbank Series C $200,000,000 2011
Softbank Venture $5,000,000 2014
Tennenbaum Capital Partners Debt Financing $100,000,000 2015

 InMobi first acquisition was US-based mobile advertising solutions provider Sprout. Later it was renamed InMobi studio in 2012. Since then InMobi had acquired or partnered with six other companies. Last was in December 2016, InMobi exclusively partnered with US-based Tapojy, a mobile ads and app monetization company with around 40 million unique users in India. It was a big step for InMobi.

Mobile Advertising  – The Cash Cow

As mentioned earlier, In 2012, InMobi diversified into performance advertising. The decision from the InMobi’s leadership came in an offsite that year. In 2011, iPhone and Android were still pretty new. And the first set of apps were getting popular. The right solution offered by InMobi get them the first wave of huge growth. Since then, performance advertising is the cash cow for InMobi. It generates around two-thirds of its revenue. The company had not disclosed any official numbers. But, as per a source-based report in Times of India, InMobi earned over $300 million in 2016.

Another major strategic decision from InMobi leadership came in 2015. InMobi launched Miip, a new platform which will bring together new advertisers and publishers to promote excitement among online shoppers. Using the Re-marketing concept users were able to discover new products. The remarketing platform enables app developers and marketers to retarget existing users across InMobi’s global ad network and exchange by implementing a mobile growth strategy across the entire conversion funnel.


To share their learning with other startups, InMobi branded its culture as YaWiO. They launched it in 2015 at a major event. In the event, all the workforce participated for two days to develop technologies that would address three major challenges –

  1. Landing an Indian rover on the Moon
  2. Addressing the challenge of women safety in the country
  3. Broadening the scope and reach of education through technology

The etymology of the name is from three key concepts – imagination, oneness, and action:

  • Ya – haYAl – Originates from the Turkish word Hayal, which means innovation
  • Wi – aWIrodhin – Originates from the Sanskrit word Awirodhin, which means not being out of harmony
  • O – Opus – Originates from the Latin word ‘Opus’, which means action


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