Vijay Doradla: Can you set the stage? How did you first connect with Verizon Ventures and what is it like working with a CVC?
Nathan Eagle: We initially connected with Verizon Ventures through the great team at AOL. Ultimately we were well aligned to help AOL and Verizon fulfill their mission of reaching 2 billion users by 2020 — and knew they would be instrumental in enabling us to accomplish our mission of providing one billion people with free Internet access.
VD: Over 30 million users have benefited from Jana’s mCent app. How will the company continue to provide unrestricted Internet access in emerging markets in order to benefit the next billion people?
NE: Over $200 billion is being spent by global brands on advertising in emerging markets. Today, that spend is going directly into the pockets of the people who own billboards in New Delhi, radio stations in Lagos, TV channels in Sao Paulo — the 1% of the 1%. If we can redirect even a quarter of this spend directly to the consumers that these global brands are trying to reach, we can scale from providing unrestricted Internet access to 30 million people, to over a billion people.
VD: Jana recently published a white paper exploring the future revenue opportunity for developers in emerging markets, as well as smartphone habits to consider when developing apps for specific markets. What are some key findings from this report that reveal where the future of app downloads lie in emerging markets?
NE: Overall, Android smartphone sales are booming in emerging markets. By 2018, India will experience a 66% growth in smartphone users, while smartphone users in the United States will only grow by 20%. As these new users come online for the first time, app developers need to move quickly to understand these unique users and capture their attention. A few things they could do to increase downloads in these countries are to decrease the size of their app, incorporate off-line features for users who are data conscious and incorporate local payment options in eCommerce apps.
But most importantly, it’s vital that app developers understand that avoiding emerging markets now will only be more costly for them in the future. Android cost per install (CPI) prices are currently at the lowest they will ever be. Developers who invest in user acquisition in emerging markets now will be building their future audience at the lowest price possible.
VD: In your experience, what's the best way to work with an investor like Verizon Ventures?
NE: With an investor like Verizon Ventures, it’s key to develop a consistent communication flow and maintain transparency. Besides being an investor, they are our partners in achieving our business objectives. As Jana continues to grow, it’s integral that we keep them informed on company developments and industry shifts. It’s our responsibility to let them know what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and what we’re up against so that we continue to maximize the value they provide us.
VD: What's next for Jana in 2017?
NE: The space that we’re in is constantly changing. Whether it’s more connectivity, higher data prices or technology shifts, we’re focused on staying ahead of the market trends and adapting our position to serve the needs of our clients as well as our users. Innovation is our top priority, but it’s not just about developing new products or ideas. We maintain a strong emphasis on improving our current products and increasing our user base, to bring us closer to achieving our goal of making the Internet free for next billion.
As one of the only companies focused specifically on emerging markets like India and Indonesia, we have exclusive, first-party data about user behaviors and trends that until now, have been primarily used for internal purposes. As a data-driven organization, we’re excited to launch the Jana Index, a curated collection of data and insights highlighting the growth of mobile and advertising in emerging markets. We are launching this initiative in October and are looking forward to seeing the Index develop over time.
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