Ambarish Mitra was living in Munirka, a slum in the southwest corner of Delhi.Mitra applied for an E-business competition after seeing an advertisement in the newspaper in 1997. He was only 17, when he had the idea of starting this business.
His address was ‘near a water tank’ in the slum. Mitra then applied for the competition just for fun, but that changed his life. He is now the owner of a billion dollar company Blippar, the leading visual browser and fastest growing augmented reality player. Under his direction, Blippar has grown from groundbreaking idea to an industry leader with 250+ employees, 10 offices and 50million+ users.
Mitra grew up in a middle-class Indian family, which prioritized education over wealth. His mother was a homemaker, a singer, and a painter. Mitra’s older sister took after her and went to study the arts in college. She now runs a successful Indian dance school in an Atlanta suburb.
Mitra’s father used to hand him copies of Businessweek and Forbes magazines. The elder Mitra was an inventor in his own right, having found a way to reuse coal slurry in one of the largest Indian coal-mining towns, and he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps to study engineering.
Mitra, though,not very great at school. While the drawers of his desk were filled with Backstreet Boys and heavy-metal cassette tapes, business books piled up next to his computer. His two favorite books his father ever gave him were on the collapse of IBM and a book on controlling your destiny.
Mitra loved the internet, and he had a small PC at home. He was inspired by Bill Gates and decided to make his life as meaningful as that of the Microsoft founder. But since Mitra spent too much time on the computer, he was at logger heads with his dad.
He ran away from his house in 1997, and began to sell magazine subscriptions during the day, and worked in tea shops at night. Six months after this, the newspaper ad popped up. He created a plan that could connect everybody with the internet, and empower women.
A few months later, the news that he won the competition broke out. He was terribly amazed. He used the money he won, and borrowed funds from his friend’s dad, who was a banker. Mitra invested it and created Women Infoline, a portal for women. Since the women those days were not aware of the internet, this was quite a hit. After this, the idea of Blippar struck Mitra, and he created it. Mitra says that he got the courage to take bold decisions from his hard life, and that is needed for every CEO.
Blippar was founded in 2011 in London. Augmented reality advertising means that you can find an image on a product, known as ‘blipp images’ or markers. The Blippar App on your smart phone can be used to scan the marker, and it will launch a link on your smart phone. This can be anything – a website, another application, a game, or a contest.
Ambarish Mitra is the real Slumdog billionaire. While the world talks about Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella who are CEOs in firms created by Americans, why is it not talking about an enterprise which is of the similar cadre?
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