A second-hand computer. That’s all it took to turn around Rajdip Gupta’s fortunes.
It all began sometime in late 2003, when Gupta, a bespectacled software developer, returned to India to start something of his own, after spending a few years in the UK. Gupta was tired of being an employee, often finding himself at odds with his seniors at the workplace. To be taken seriously, his mentor told him, he had to become his own boss and not remain an employee.
But quitting a well-placed job to start something of his own wasn’t going to be easy, especially since he came from a middle-class family where money was important. So even as he began drawing up plans for his entrepreneurial venture, he also began freelancing, doing odd jobs developing software to bring in extra income.
“I did some consulting work with one of the top fashion designers in India today,” Mumbai-based Gupta told Forbes India over a Zoom call. “I will not take the person’s name. He didn't pay me, and instead said I could take a computer that he wasn’t using that was lying in a corner.” As barter payment, Gupta picked up that computer, with 4 MB RAM on an Intel 486 processor with 16 GB of hard disk, for ₹6,500. To put the specifications in perspective, most smartphones today boast over 4 GB of RAM, 10 times that of Gupta’s second-hand computer, and some 64 GB of space.
“That's luck,” says Gupta, who didn’t have a computer then. “I took the computer, and I built a whole group.”
That group, Route Mobile, has had a phenomenal run on the bourses since its IPO in September this year. The stock listed at an 86 percent premium, and over the past two months, has risen over 92 percent. On December 11, the company’s share price on the BSE stood at ₹1,127, with a market capitalisation in excess of ₹6,400 crore. With over 66 percent stake in the company, the Gupta family’s net worth is well in excess of ₹4,200 crore. Rajdip, 44, is the group CEO and managing director, while his brother Sandip Gupta, 45, is the chairman of Route Mobile.
Route Mobile calls itself a cloud communications platform provider, catering to enterprises, over-the-top players, and mobile network operators. Quite simply, a significant part of the company’s business involves being the middleman between a mobile operator and an enterprise, helping deliver messages or other communication services to the end user.
For instance, a one-time password for a financial transaction is often generated by a bank, that is then delivered to the end customer by a telecom operator, such as Airtel or Jio. Route Mobile is the go-to person in between, who has tied up with the operator and delivers those messages to the end customer.
“We are in between the operator and the enterprise,” Rajdip says. “We have connectivity established with over 250 operators globally and we are the largest CPaaS (Communications platform as a service) based out of India and we are the largest in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East in terms of connectivity and in terms of customers.” That means, Route Mobile’s Application Programming Interfaces (API) are connected to an enterprise, which then generates the data that needs to be transmitted. It is passed through Route Mobile’s API to the telecom operator for final delivery. APIs are essentially software intermediaries that allow two applications to talk to each other.
Route Mobile’s clientele today includes India’s largest public sector bank, SBI, ICICI Bank, Bank of Baroda, Facebook, Google, and Samsung, among others.
For instance, you get a Facebook recovery password, or an alert when you transact using Google Pay or the two-factor authentication of Google for your email, Gupta explains. “All of that is provided by us.”
In all, the company has over 3,000 monthly billable clients across the world and provides everything from messaging, voice, email, and SMS filtering and analytics to clients across banking and financial services, aviation, retail, e-commerce, logistics, health care, hospitality, media and entertainment, pharmaceuticals, and telecom. Last year, the company delivered over 31 billion messages. “I have always believed that anything you create can get better and much larger,” Gupta says.
BEING THE BOSS
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