Education: Master of Engineering, Electrical & Electronics Engineering and Management
College: Imperial College London
Previous Career: Founded two companies - MoviesNow and AppSpark.
The son of one of India's wealthiest and most prominent telecommunications magnate, Mittal had all the privileges bestowed upon him since childhood. However, he wanted to create something on his own. Having realised his passion for entrepreneurship, he started and failed at a few ventures abroad. He then recognised that the Indian subcontinent was rife with opportunities for internet- and mobile-driven technology. He decided to explore the internet messaging space, wanting to make it more interesting and fun. At a time when WhatsApp and Facebook were catching on like wildfire in India, he came up with a trendy and 'cool' way of messaging.
Hike Messenger was launched in 2012, and was available immediately in over 100 countries. Hike kept users glued to the app using multiple marketing methods. In 2013, they raised $7 million in funding from Bharti Softbank, a VC fund which was a joint venture between Mittal's father and Softbank. Hike relied on the big bucks to launch targeted ad campaigns for user acquisition. Their most famous one was "keep your friends close", a campaign that introduced the concept of Hike's USP of sending 'Stickers' as messages within the app.
They kept their focus on customer satisfaction, and started a co-creation exercise with users where they took real time feedback from users to continually improve the app experience. Mittal leveraged his connection with Bharti Airtel to launch a free data plan for customers who used the Hike app, which boosted their user base. In July 2014, thanks in part to a great marketing strategy and unique features in their app, Hike Messenger became the most downloaded app on both the Indian Apple AppStore and Google PlayStore. They went on to raise over $80 million over the next two years, including investments from top VC firms and a few big names from Silicon Valley, and reached over 100 million users in the period.
- An ardent believer of Zen philosophy, Mittal has high attention to detail, and this was his guiding principle while building Hike.
- He credits the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki to be an important factor in shaping the way he thinks about work and life.
"There is a lot of herd mentality [in India] and less focus on being different and independent. This is why many companies are going to fail. But the correction is happening and I believe the good ones are here to stay."