The Mumbai-based mobile value added services (VAS) start-up Onward Mobility has announced the appointment of Zubin Jimmy Dubash as its Chief Strategy Officer. Dubash was previously the Vice President and National Head for New Product Innovations for Tata Docomo, and had resigned early in August 2011. At Tata Docomo, Dubash was responsible for strategy and innovation for all the brands of Tata Teleservices, in emerging areas such as m-commerce, NFC (near field communications), mobile TV, m-advertising, m-learning, m-health and m-governance. He has previously worked at Vodafone India, British Gas Broadband and Tata Teleservices Ltd.
Onward recently raised Rs 18 crore in its series A round of funding from IndoUS Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures. It retails its own and third party mobile applications via retail outlets – at a retail outlet in Delhi, I was recently offered one of its mobile apps MobiCop on the purchase of a handset. Onward Mobility claims to have 10,000 retail counters in eight Indian states, and it appears to be addressing the issue of offline retail of applications.
Dubash, with established relationships with VAS providers over the years, could well have been brought in to disrupt the telecom-operator dominated, subscription based mobile-retail of mobile content. It’s going to be a tough battle, and many VAS companies have discussed going down this path, but not quite taken the risk of building this model out.