Business Today

Sign of the times

Another ad honcho gets lured by the great outdoors.

Print Edition: January 27, 2008

The action is outdoors, as C.V.L. Srinivas, the former CEO of Maxus (an advertising and media company), will readily testify. Srinivas has taken charge as CEO of Surewaves, part of Bangalore-based IndusEdge Innovations, which is cofounded by Rajendra Kumar Khare, a former head of Broadcom India.

So what’s different about this digital screen company from the 30-odd players, of various sizes, dotting this space? The difference lies in the ace team that’s come together to offer convergence—in its technology, and also in the interesting partnerships that it hopes to strike shortly. Significantly, like most firms in this space, it is in talks with a major private equity fund for expanding its business.

Srinivas has an ace team in place
C.V.L. Srinivas
According to Srinivas, his screens can engage with mobile phones of consumers with Bluetooth and offer ‘intelligent’ content. “Our engagement model seeks to be real-time in its content and has the ability to control all screens from a central backend situated in Bangalore,” he says. This new foray seeks to offer media convergence in the form of digital screens that will combine television content with web, out-of-home (OOH) displays and mobile phones.

Already, the company claims to have signed on Magma, (a semiconductor company), as a customer and it has also closed deals with a large multiplex chain, a mobile retail chain and some banks. “Also, we are seeking to work in partnership with content providers (satellite channels) and also other outdoor players who have digital screens, but lack the backup of cohesive strategy and content,” says Srinivas.

The fact that this venture has managed to attract veterans in the communications and software industry suggests that more is afoot than is being let out at this stage. For instance, founder Khare (a BITS Pilani engineer) is a seasoned entrepreneur having co-founded Armedia Labs that got sold to Broadcom. He’s also been the founding chairperson of Indian Semiconductor Association and has had stints with Arcus Technologies, Wipro and the Tata group in the past.

Similarly, co-founder and Technology Officer Ravi Bhat founded Amber Networks that got sold to Nokia; he headed Nokia’s R&D centre, till he decided to quit and start on his own again. Anant Kansal, Chief Operating Officer, Surewaves, is a former co-founder of Baysoft (a software firm) and has worked with Khare at Wipro and was his batch-mate at BITS Pilani.

Tapan Datta, another co-founder, headed marketing communications functions at Wipro earlier. As part of its revenue stream, Surewaves is looking at not just complete solutions, but also in loaning out its technology to those players who seek to control and manage their operations on their own. The real challenge as most would agree in this space is the ability to wrangle deals from the various stakeholders in government, realestate companies and infrastructure developers. “For this we are already in talks and hope to have at least six alliances,” says Srinivas, who promises that this venture is going to be “different” from the many OOH companies in the space.

Shamni Pande

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