With over a billion active monthly users, WhatsApp is currently the world’s largest messaging app. It’s far more popular than SMS, and significantly cheaper (it’s free). Most of its users are based in India and South Africa, and it is this penetration into these large but often untapped app markets, combined with its unmatched simplicity and low requirements, that has contributed to WhatsApp’s massive popularity – so much so that Facebook acquired it for a whopping $19 billion in 2014. For a product launched by two people in 2009, that’s – to put it mildly – pretty neat.
A large part of this deal has been credited to IIT-Delhi graduate Neeraj Arora, who is Vice-President of Business Development at WhatsApp. Arora, who left a job at Google to join WhatsApp while it was still a young startup in 2011, has a very interesting story to share about how a fresh, new app founded only with a vision and no entrepreneurial ambitions initially, went on to become the most popular messaging service of all time, all while staying completely low-key in terms of PR and monetising itself as little as possible.
WhatsApp’s story – and that of Arora himself – will be an inspiration to everyone who has felt the passion for their ideas, but have struggled to execute them. While acknowledging the difficulties and the big risk of failure, Arora’s experience also shows how careful planning, savvy decisions, and total investment in an idea can pave the way for its eventual success. His story also reflects the emotional investment that a lot of entrepreneurs and developers have in their products, and how beautifully it pays off when a product succeeds. It was this emotional investment that led him to join WhatsApp in the first place, and it is what shines through in his little anecdote, towards the end of the video, about how (and where) the deal with Facebook was signed.
This post is a part of a tech and entrepreneurship series by Youth Ki Awaaz, in collaboration with INK. This series aims to highlight unheard stories of individuals who had the courage to follow their dreams, and their journeys of success and failure. Watch more videos from INK here, and if you want to share the story of an inspiring entrepreneur, submit here.