After 13 amazing years at Greynium (Oneindia), I am moving on from the Company I started. It has been a long and fruitful journey for and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
How The Internet Journey Started
I started my journey with internet technologies in 1990 while studying at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In fact, we were using the internet well before www was introduced. I was very active on Usenet, the most popular medium of communication then.
Being a techie, I found the technology behind the Internet very fascinating. Those days the Linux operating system was just taking off. We were playing with Linux on Windows machines (dual boot) in the 1990s. At work with some very technically curious colleagues, I got into experimenting the web.
I launched my blog which had all India related information which NRIs needed in their daily lives. That is how mahesh.com started. I still have the Micron PC I bought in 1996 on which I built mahesh.com.
Startup 1: Indiainfo
I spent several weeks and months training editors of language portals on Internet technology. For many, this media was totally alien. Many of them stayed with us for a long time and I am still in touch with them. It is an experience I cherish. Indiainfo went through its ups and downs. It survived the dotcom crash.
Startup 2: Oneindia
Fast forward to 2006, I founded Greynium Information Technologies Pvt Ltd (which owns Oneindia.com) with angel funding from my hostel mates during undergraduate studies. Luckily there was no Angel Tax in 2006, one less problem to deal with.
We ran the company in a frugal way, not because we were wise but simply because we didn’t have any money! We had two business divisions in the company – Internet Services Division which developed online solutions for others and earned “real money” and Oneindia.com (which needed the money from our IT Services Division).
Technically this journey was fun for me. I recall the early days of guiding the technical team on building the content management system (CMS). Being a big believer of opensource I pushed for opensource technologies at Oneindia.
In 2010, Rajesh Jain took a majority in Greynium and things changed since then. He ensured we worked towards profitability. And mobile internet took off around that time, our portal’s reach started to take off (thanks to Reliance Jio).
We were very proud of our reach because we had not spent any money on online marketing. Funny isn’t it? We earned our money from brands who spent on online marketing but we were not spending a single Rupee on marketing. Well, we wanted to spend on marketing but didn’t have the serious cash reserves to indulge in the same.
I have experienced many lows and few highs during this journey, which is typical for any entrepreneur. Thanks to the passionate commitment of the team, we faced every problem together and solved them successfully.
There were many milestones in this journey, very difficult to pick the favourites. The first significant milestone was when Comscore ranked us #4 in the country! We pinched ourselves to ensure we were not dreaming.
What started off as a hobby site by me in the early-1990s has come a long way. We are an enviable property in the internet space today. Credit goes to each and every team member of Oneindia who have given their best.
Funding For Indian Languages in Digital India
I would like to thank our past investors for believing in our story, without whom we couldn’t have started this journey. They funded at a time when nobody was willing to look at Indic (Indian Languages).
Today, Oneindia has found a new home in DailyHunt. I am confident Oneindia will reach new heights under their leadership.
The future for Indic is looking very bright. VCs no longer require to be convinced about Indic. I am very happy to see many Indic ventures are getting great funding these days. May that tribe grow.
I feel satisfied with this 20-year journey. It was a privilege to launch and grow Indic in the Indian Internet eco-system. I believe India lives in its languages and if one does not understand this one fails to understand Indian psyche.
I would like to thank my family for supporting me through this tough & exciting journey. Trust me, it is a tough journey. And thanks to badminton which helped me unwind every morning with my friends.