Kratos, mobile ad-tech start-up aims at $50 million valuation in 5 years

By Anusha Ashwin

It is the age of digital advertisements. Catching a potential customer’s attention just for seconds through an advertisement would mean success for advertisers. Little wonder then, that with an exponential boom in mobile phone users and data subscribers, there is a natural urge among advertisers to capitalize on mobile advertising. In fact, advertisers are conscious of the fact that currently mobile advertisements are eating into print and television genres of media.

Tapping mobile user base, maximizing ROI for advertisers through better targeting, analytics and consumer insights is thus the need of the hour and Singapore-incorporated mobile advertisement company — The Kratos — is just enabling all of that for advertisers. Upal Pradhan is the Founder & MD of Kratos. He is backed by a 35-member team with Naveen Bhandari as the company’s Director and Venkatakrishna (aka Venki) as the Chief Architect.

“Our objective is to enable brands to communicate with their target audience on various mobile devices in the most efficient manner and deliver measurable results. We work with various leading brands, app developers and publishers to achieve targets ranging from building brand visibility to increasing app penetration among relevant users,” says Founder, Upal Pradhan in a chat with Voice&Data.

The Kratos Journey

Kratos was founded in 2013, by Naveen Bhandari, Upal Pradhan and Venkatakrishna. They were then already known as the creators of three successful startups in mobile technology space and one in the entertainment space. The founders envisioned that Kratos should be an exclusive mobile ad-serving platform that is scalable, robust and forms the foundation of ad networking.

Responding to how he embarked onto his entrepreneurial journey with Kratos, Pradhan recollects, “I started my career in Saregama, taking care of digital marketing for south India, which gave me exposure of the mobile and media industry and monetization avenues on various digital platforms. Then came Techzone where the journey kicked off. Tech zone at that point was at an inflection point, going through a hyper growth curve. Naveen and I were responsible for all the non-technical verticals — marketing, sales, product, finance and HR. Naveen is a serial entrepreneur and was already 10-plus years in the mobile and digital space at this point. I was also exposed to certain key ingredients of entrepreneurship like building team and culture, achieving hyper growth rates with limited finances and most importantly handling the strains caused by frequent highs and lows, many a times simultaneously. Tech zone at this point was spending good amount of money on mobile advertisement. Mobile is an ecosystem that we had in depth experience in. Moreover, mobile advertisement was in its initial stages where there was lot of scope for improvement and changes. Hence started the journey of Kratos.”

As an ad tech company, Kratos has three products in its portfolio:

  1. a) A demand side platform equipped with RTB and ROI optimization algorithms
  2. b) A rewarded software development kit (SDK) called KuberPlay, which helps app developers monetize their apps by providing premium services free to their customers which are paid for by advertisers and
  3. c) An affiliate management platform with tracking solutions

Winning Large Ad-agencies’ Trust

Working with almost all the large media agencies in India and consumer tech companies, Kratos has proved its skill in the multi-billion-dollar advertisement industry. Kratos’ USP lies in Pradhan and his team’s in-depth knowledge of mobile ecosystem, and immense focus on increasing the ROI of advertisers. “All our systems are built for achieving this objective. We try to replace any manual process that is followed for optimization, targeting etc. with self-learning algorithms so that the systems become real time (instead of iteration time of weeks), efficient and error free,” explains Pradhan.

Scalable global mobile ad networks; maximizing returns for ad investment; maximum value for publisher inventories are some notable services that Kratos gives its clients. Kratos’ success is rooted in the experience of the founders as users of mobile ad technology and pioneers of mobile VAS (value-added-service). This has translated into deep consumer insights, as well as an understanding of the need of the publisher and the advertiser. Using these insights, the Kratos team leveraged advances in big data and cloud-based architectures to simplify mobile advertising for its customers. Innovating as they built adtech solution from ground up the quality of network combined with their strong targeting capabilities and proprietary quality assurance technologies have enabled them to deliver both, reach and performance for their advertisers. Kratos’ principle of transparency with its customers makes it a preferred ad network to both advertisers and publishers.

Zapak was Kratos’ first client. Kratos is continuing to render Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) services to Zapak, since its association two years back. Kratos admits that the company has been constant in delivering ROI with Zapak. Kratos has been successful with another startup in the food-tech space based out of Mumbai. Kratos was responsible for conducting digital campaigns to place orders and the team managed to garner 30,000 customers in a month’s time for the food-tech startup.

Steady Growth Phase

Pradhan is confident that his company is growing steadily. He says, “We have always been consistent about our resources. We have hired people from some of the top educational institutions who have deep knowledge in their field. We have grown from 6 people to 40. Over a period of time, I have given them independence to take their own decisions by playing a larger role at Kratos. In terms of technology, we always have the latest technology stack available in market, especially when it comes to data and analytics.”

Pradhan, at this moment, is content with the financial resources in hand. He intends to consolidate the market before he approaches an external investor. Kratos is notably a fast growing company. Its revenue has grown by 120% year-on-year to reach over Rs 16 crore in January 2016. On the product side, Pradhan intends to focus on on-boarding as many app developers as possible on KuberPlay and to expand the base of its white labeling solution over the next six months. On geographic expansion side, Pradhan wants to increase their presence in South East Asia by December 2016. With the registered office in Singapore, Pradhan is aggressive about foraying and expanding further in Asia, Australia followed by US and Europe. He foresees a company that can be valued at Rs 250 crore (USD 50 million) in five years.

1 comment

  1. Pranav

    Kratos has grown by cheating smaller companies and startups off their money.
    I paid Kratos over 1.25 lacs in march 17 to carry out a campaign.
    After receiving the payment they put my campaigns on hold and have not continued the campaign or refunded my money since then.
    I have spent the past 3-4 months continuously emailing and calling them up, but they answer each time with wel call you back in a few hours and ignore my calls/emails another few days.
    My account manager quit the company and told me that Kratos regularly does this with all of their smaller clients, and that their strategy is to cheat the smaller companies and keep their payments as they know legally it would take a long time to recover it and the smaller companies dont have the resources and time.
    I have spoken to everyone from the Sales Head to the CTO/CEO and have not gotten a single resolution or reply.
    They just say we will call you back and ignore my calls for another week or so.
    They have only grown by cheating all their companies and I urge everyone to stay away from them.
    They are absolute crooks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *