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Centilian.com – Enabling Mobile Monetization

Monetizing content is a challenging business. Even a behemoth like Google could not do well at monetizing content, if we were to go by their earnings report. In fact, Google’s revenue from content advertising has been dropping significantly since 2006. As unbelievable as it might sound, the fact is that their profit margin on content advertising in 2008 has just been 4.5%.

Oddly enough several other media companies on the other hand have been faring much better than that by providing innovative platforms and solutions targeted towards local markets, especially the ones with huge potential.

Centilian, our current startup in focus is one such company which hopes to do well too by helping Bollywood content developers monetize their offerings. They have recently launched what apparently seems to be India’s first streaming video application for the iPhone. Pratik the startup’s founder talks more about this app and also shares his thoughts and ideas with Startups in this interview.

1. What is Centilian.com?

centilianCentilian is a mobile applications development company. Our focus is to help content owners monetize and mobilize their content for various mobile platforms including iPhone, Android, Adobe, RIM and Windows Mobile. We are the first company to launch a Bollywood video iPhone application called “Bollyhood” and are now working with content owners from India to distribute their content through “Bollyhood” or branded custom applications using our mobile push platform.

We have created a mobile platform that allows studios and content owners to push their video content onto mobile smartphones with no development or software maintenance effort on their end.

2. Please share with us the motivation and the story behind your start-up.

This is my second startup in the technology space. The first was a services business in the Software-as-a-service space. I’d always wanted to do something in the consumer space and having watched the unprecedented response the market gave to the Apple iPhone, we started to see what possible ideas could materialize. In late 2008 we started to explore the possibilities of applications/businesses focused on the mobile space that could target the large Indian population spread across the World.

Our first application brings together all three components – a very compelling device, being bought by a large and growing demographic and showing compelling content in the form of Bollywood video.

3. What is it that makes Centilian.com unique amongst others offering similar services? Any significant features we should know?

Centilian is the first company that has successfully deployed a streaming video application for Bollywood on the Apple iTunes store. We have created a mobile platform that allows studios and content owners to push their video content onto mobile smartphones with no development or software maintenance effort on their end. We are also working with studios to create branded applications that offer their content as video on demand or as mobile games for the various platforms we support.

4. Who are your major competitors?

We are the only company focused on the Indian market that has successfully deployed a video application on the Apple iPhone store.

5. How is your start-up doing do so far? How well was it received by the community?

We launched the “Bollyhood – Bollywood Video” application on the iTunes store one week ago. Since then, we have risen to the “Top 10 Free Applications” and the “Top 4 Entertainment Applications” on the iTunes India store. Various movie studios, newspapers and other content owners from India have contacted us regarding seeding their content through our application and developing custom branded application using our app platform. We have also been featured on prominent blog and news sites such as BusinessOfCinema.com.

6. What kind of traffic does it see? Please share any significant achievements.

– We have served over 110,000 video views in a week since launch
– We are #9 in the Top 10 Free Applications on the iTunes India store, in 7 days since launch
– We are #3 in the Top Free Entertainment Applications on the iTunes India store, in 7 days since launch

7. Could you tell us more about yourself, your position & other key players, if any?

My background is in technology, having spent around 14 years in this space primarily in Enterprise Software and SaaS. I started my first company in 2006 and launched Centilian in 2009 to go after the consumer space, an area I’m increasingly convinced has a lot of potential. I truly believe that you will start to see an increasing amount of software services in the Consumer space being offered in the same model as SaaS in the Enterprise space. Centilian is gearing up to provide one such service, of providing a Platform (as a service) for content owners that are targeting the mobile space.

We have an Engineering team that is in the US and India. In addition we also have a business development person that brings a wealth of experience from the Bollywood/Entertainment space.

8. How large is the team behind Centilian.com? Are you all based in India?

Currently, we have an 8 people team for Centilian.com. We are based in the Silicon Valley, California and our development team is located in India.

9. How is your startup being funded so far? Did you receive any other external funding? If not, do you plan on seeking external funding?

The startup is self funded. At this point, we are not actively looking for funding.

10. What are key technologies your service is built upon and why did you opt for them?

Apple iTunes 3.0 Platform – that’s the only development platform supported by the iPhone 🙂

11. In your experience, what has been the most effective way to market a business?

Viral – Word of mouth, SEO, Social Networks and bloggers. We are now exploring video advertising on Bollywood video portals and are close to signing a deal with an Indian video ad aggregation company to monetize our video views as well as promote our application on their Bollywood video network.

12. What is the best advice you’ve ever received.

Succeed OR Fail-fast.

It’s good to sit on the sidelines and wait for the perfect idea, but at some point “doing it” will teach you a lot more than “thinking about doing”. I learned a lot with my first start-up that I hope to avoid with this one.

13. On a personal front, who is your role model? Also, do you follow any other websites religiously?

From an ethics perspective – it would have to be the guys at Google, and I say in general (not just the Founders) because I’ve met a ton of them and they truly believe in the “Do No Evil” motto. It also indicates how the Foundation of a company’s culture rests on its Leadership.

From a marketing/sales perspective – Marc Benioff – he could sell ice to the eskimos or in his case “Clouds to the rain forests”

14. How did being an entrepreneur affect your lifestyle? Do you get enough time for yourself/family?

That’s always going to be a compromise. It is funny how many things you once took for granted that you now have to do yourself, especially in the US. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job even if you’re not actually working you’re still thinking about “what next” constantly.

15. Tell us One thing that you love the most?

BMOB – Be My Own Boss

Go, get your doze of Bollywood.

(If you are an Indian startup and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then we’d be happy to talk to you. Contact us right away.)

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