Mobiles & Tablets

Kinvey: a platform for mobile apps

N Ramakrishnan | Updated on December 15, 2014

Sravish Sridhar, Founder & CEO, Kinvey

The start-up offers backend-as-a-service on the cloud

Sravish Sridhar surprises you with his candour during a recent 45-minute interaction in Chennai. He is the founder and CEO of Kinvey, a start-up based in Boston, Massachusetts, that provides backend-as-a-service on the cloud for clients to build their mobile applications.

It was 2009 and Sravish, now 36, had to make a momentous decision. He had joined a start-up in 2000, after completing his undergrad programme in computer science at the University of Texas in Austin. That start-up had got acquired and Sravish had stayed back for a year to help in the transition. He was based in London and was contemplating moving back to India.

At that time, says Sravish, he met a young woman with whom he fell madly in love with. A few months into the courtship she told him she was going to Boston for a Ph.D at Harvard.

“I said, well I guess I am moving to Boston too. I never thought I would go back to the US,” he recalls.

They got married and Sravish says he was “hanging around, helping some start-ups, making some investments.” It was almost a year after their marriage that he thought he should do something, mainly because people were asking what he did for a living. “It was starting to become a little embarrassing. I had to do something.”

Being in Boston, didn’t he also want to study? “Even though I went to a really great high school in Chennai and I was surrounded by smart people, I realised early on that academic was not my passion,” says Sravish. “When I graduated, I realised at that point I was done,” he adds. “My wife has seven degrees, working on her eighth and I have one. I said, for the family we have evened it out,” he laughs.

Key issues

While thinking about what to do, Sravish looked at two issues. One, what would be the next big problem to solve. Two, it had to be something that he could build for a long time. He looked at mobile and mobile devices, as an area of growth. Rather than do something that the large companies were doing, Sravish decided he would focus on a niche area, one that was still in its infancy. Thus was born Kinvey, which provides a platform as a Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) for companies developing apps for mobile, tablet and the web, in 2010.

Kinvey, according to Sravish, has raised a total of $17.8 million, in three rounds so far. The investors are Avalon Ventures, Atlas Ventures, NTT DoCoMo Ventures and Verizon Ventures. Kinvey was incubated at Techstars, a start-up accelerator. He used the seed funding of $2 million to grow the team, and the Series A and Series B rounds for building the product and going to market. “We are now at a point where some of the largest global companies are our customers.”

Kinvey hopes to use NTT DoCoMo’s expertise and network to grow internationally, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. A majority of its customers are now in the US and a few in Europe.

As it seeks to grow in Asia-Pacific and South East Asia, Kinvey will look at engaging with Indian IT companies that have a large presence in the mobile space. It has over 24,000 apps running on its platform and its largest customers are in pharma, retail, logistics and healthcare sectors.

Revenue model

According to Sravish, the company gets its revenues from large enterprises, for which a dedicated version of the product sits on their premises. They pay an annual subscription fee. For the small and medium business segment, the product is available on the cloud.

The SMB customers pay between $18,000 and $36,000 a year. The business is self-sustaining, he says, without disclosing details. Sravish says Kinvey will look at its next round of funding, a larger one, in 2016, which will be for further scaling up the business.

Published on December 15, 2014

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