Bangalore-based start-up SureWaves Media Tech Pvt Ltd, which provides a digital campaign platform for TV advertisers, has raised Rs 10 crore in its first round of funding, led by India Innovation Fund and Accel Partners. Two angel investors also participated in the round.

This is the second investment by India Innovation Fund, which is backed by Tata Consultancy Services and Bharti Airtel. Rajesh Rai from India Innovation Fund and Shekhar Kirani from Accel Partners have joined the company's board of directors. Shekhar Kirani of Accel Partners said, "We are excited about SureWaves Media Grid. National advertisers can now target their messages to a specific community or region with proof-of-play. The team has created a unique platform and is very excited about its potential in multiple markets."

Rajesh Rai, CEO, India Innovation Fund, said, "The strength of the SureWaves team, robustness of the solution and its unique value proposition to customers were instrumental in determining our association with the firm.”

Founded in 2006 by Ananth Kansal, Rajendra Khare and Tapan Kumar Dutta, all of them former Wipro employees, SureWaves was set up as a media convergence company in Bangalore. Kansal’s specialisation is in technology and customer support as he had worked in Celstream Technologies, Tektronics and Wipro. He had also established a software start-up called Baysoft. Tapan Dutta, the creative head who had juggled his duties as founder and CEO of the Bangalore-based ad agency Upasana Advantage, brings cutting-edge advantage to SureWaves. He had previously worked in the marketing solutions space at Wipro and later moved to the digital sector.

Veteran Rajendra Khare hails from the Indian hardware industry and was the India MD of chipmaker Broadcom. He also held the chairman’s post at the India Semiconductor Association between 2004 and 2007.

SureWaves has now 35 people on board and has operations in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. With this funding, the company will continue to invest in expanding its network to more states as it is targeting a nation-wide reach by 2014.

From Digital Display Networks To TV Campaign Management

Between 2006 and 2009, the three worked on technology and product development, focused on digital display networks, the underlying technology theme and its application as a versatile platform that could be adapted to other forms of digital media. Geographically distributed digital displays were in demand, especially from the banking and financial sector, and SureWaves worked on implementing this technology for network branches to ensure customer communications. The company launched its first offering in 2009, but the bigger plan was to cover the television industry, Khare told

“TV is one of the largest and most dominant media in India and the solution we are putting forth is now for TV alone. We called it Media Grid because it is similar to a power grid – you can inject and tap power from anywhere in it,” said Khare.

The solution developed by the company, the SureWaves Media Grid, is a media planning interface for advertisers looking to target their TV campaigns at a very local level. According to Khare, the company has six-eight clients who are among the top 20 advertisers in India.

Media Grid has a window interface for multiple local TV channels as a front end. The grid itself has aggregated viewership of local cable TV channels and offers this audience to national-level advertisers. Advertisers are then able to outline their media planning strategies and insert their campaigns into the TV channels.

SureWaves has partnered with 20 producers of local TV channels, such as GDPL and UCN, across four states – Gujarat, Maharashtra (excluding Mumbai), Bihar and Kerala. A majority of these producers happen to be MSOs (Cable TV operators).

“We make the whole cable TV world an attractive proposition for advertisers since the viewership is large and not many platforms have this kind of details for planning and executing a media strategy,” said Khare. Other firms targeting TV advertisers for ‘spot advertising’ include Lukup and Amagi, but Khare says their “niche is different and they have a different market focus.” Other companies such as Jivox, VDopia, NetworkPlay, Ozone Media, OMG and Komli Media offer targeted advertising online and on the mobile, in both text and rich media formats.

SureWaves, however, will continue to focus on the television market. According to Khare, media spend in India was more than Rs 12,000 crore in 2010 and the medium continues to grow at a double-digit CAGR. So far, advertisers who were unable to address the markets in tier II and tier III cities, will see those open up for localised and targeted advertising.


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