He has taken his venture through the rough and tumble of the startup space, but Kavin Bharti Mittal doesn’t fit into your conventional stereotype of an entrepreneur.
He is a keen follower of Zen philosophy and likes to begin his day with meditation to realign and rejuvenate his mind. Kavin believes in having a harmonious, balanced, and ‘zen’ outlook with a ‘glass half-full’ perspective all the way.
Not Choosing an Easy Path
For the son of Bharti Enterprise chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, it would have been natural to simply follow his father’s legacy like most other scions of wealthy families. But Kavin had other plans. At the age of 20, he was doing his Masters in Imperial College, London and already giving wings to his entrepreneurial dreams with apps like AppSpark, MoviesNow, and Foodster.
But Kavin soon realized that India has a tremendous opportunity for internet and mobile technology, and came back in 2011. A young, brave, and enterprising businessman, Kavin has managed to come out of his father’s shadow and make his own mark.
Giving up on dairy, gluten and sodas, he streamlined his dietary intake in 2018. More than half of his food intake was is plant based. He also discovered the benefits of fasting. He says “body doesn’t need as much as food one thinks”. But this freak also loses his control while travelling. Pizza and choclate chip cookies are his cheat meal he would love to have.
Dreams and Virtuousness
launched Hike Messenger in December 2012, an app to keep Indians connected. The
early days proved challenging, as Kavin himself had no background in building a
messaging app. The greatest learning for him in those days was that an
entrepreneur should always keep his ego in check, especially because a
company’s success is directly proportional to the learning curve of the founder
The second virtue he learned is perseverance. The Hike team had their backs to the wall very early, as they had a target of 3 million till March 2013, and were still languishing at 0 in January. That was when they launched talk-time rewards, giving incentives to people to get their friends on the app. In three months, the user base increased to 5 million.
For him, it was not about the funding he received, but it was all about relentlessly chasing his own aspirations.
Thirdly, Kavin firmly believes that a fit body and mind is critical to take good decisions even in difficult times. He counts his father, Steve Jobs and Niki Lauda (Formula One) as his role models. For him, all three have two things in common – they have a very clear state of mind and want to change the world around them.
Hike‘s user base increased quickly to more than 100 million by January 2016. It became a unicorn in just 3.7 years.
Ups and Downs
In 2018, Kavin admitted that the company had moved too far from its core business model too soon. Some of its acquisitions were draining finances and they had not thought through monetization. To control the blood-letting, Hike closed its Bengaluru office and laid off almost 25% of its workforce in May 2018.
After that shock, Hike plans to launch several apps in 2019 that will solve specific problems and focus on the pillars of content and social. Hike previously used to keep them bundled within a single app like popular Chinese app WeChat. But the Indian market is not that evolved, so Hike has adapted.
Kavin will have his task cut out in the coming years since different apps will have to deal with well-entrenched competition, and Hike has to firmly lay out a path to monetization and further scale up. But one can expect Kavin to be game for the challenge, with his humility, perseverance, eagerness to learn and balanced approach to life.
Send messages, book bus tickets or even transfer money via your smartphone without using data on ‘TOTAL’, @Hikeapp’s take on Android OS. @MeghaVishwanath chats up with @kavinbm to decode the tech behind this service pic.twitter.com/Xl1rH1cult— CNBC-TV18 News (@CNBCTV18News) January 17, 2018
In retrospect, one can say that even if he is away from the family business, Kavin is living up to his father’s legacy in the best way possible.