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Five years ago Nickhil Jakatdar was struck with the realisation that videos on mobile phones were becoming increasingly important in emerging countries.

Nickhil grew up in India where a lot of people had their first experience of watching video on their mobile phones, which differs from western countries where watching videos on desktops, laptops or TVs was perhaps more prevalent.

He had a hunch that just as YouTube was taking off for video clips on desktops, people would also want to watch videos on their mobile devices – especially where their phone is the primary screen.

Nickhil Jakatdar

Fast forward to the present day and Nickhil, based in Silicon Valley, is the CEO and founder of, a mobile-focused video destination portal with 45 million active monthly users who watch 1.5 billion minutes of video every month.

Vuclip works on all mobile browsers and has users all over the world, however it is particularly popular in India, South East Asia, Middle East and Latin America – territories where Nokia Asha devices also have a strong following. 

In fact, Vuclip is the most popular web app in the Nokia Store and the two companies are continually working to enhance the video experience even further.

A video standard for mobiles

Although Vuclip has quickly become a huge success story, Nickhil, in a phone interview with Conversations, was also quick to highlight the challenges that his company faced at the beginning.

Primarily, there was no real universal standard for videos on mobile phones, unlike desktop computing with the dominance of Adobe Flash. There are also different mobile operating systems, video formats and network data speeds to take into account.

“To get a desktop video to work on your mobile requires optimising for a lot of different variables,” says Nickhil.

“This is what makes mobile a challenge and an opportunity.”

It was a challenge that Nickhil turned to his advantage. Other video providers had established desktop systems that were being re-purposed for mobile devices, but he instinctively knew that this solution would not scale well.

“This problem was probably easier for us because we didn’t have any legacy of having created a desktop platform. We created our technology platform from scratch and it was optimised purely for mobile.” 

Nickhil also acknowledges a stroke of good fortune – one of the key members of his team had done his PhD thesis on solving the problem of a highly fragmented mobile ecosystem.

Vuclip Video Search

Spreading the word

Having got a handle on the technical side of things, Vuclip faced an obstacle that a lot of start up companies face: making people aware that they existed. Two key decisions helped them early on.

Nickhil explains: 

“First, in order for virality and organic growth to kick in, we needed to remove any barriers to usage so we went with a browser based approach to start with. It meant that all someone needed to do was open in the browser. They didn’t have to download an app. Today, Vuclip is also available as an app.

“The other thing is that we made it very easy to share videos. If you watched a video and liked it then you could share it and your friends would get a link. So it was easy for us to introduce people to the service because the users were our ambassadors.”

The content

The videos you can watch on Vuclip are a mix of UGC content from websites such as YouTube, MetaCafe, DailyMotion and hundreds of others. Vuclip uses their APIs to index the videos and serve them to Vuclip’s users.

In addition, there is also premium and copyrighted video material, where Nickhil and his team strike commercial deals with content owners to make them available.

Often, these are served in innovative ways. For example, if Vuclip notices a user likes to watch a lot of soccer videos, then it can offer them the option of watching of the English Premier League’s Goal of the Day video for a small fee that is paid through their carrier billing. There are hundreds of content owners that Vuclip works with closely in order to ensure consumers get the type of content that is most relevant to them. 

“As we are getting to a larger consumer base, the one thing we are noticing is that the big name content providers, like Sony and Disney, are finding that Vuclip is a great way of getting distribution,” says Nickhil.

Nokia calling

Vuclip worked with Nokia to optimise the video viewing experience for Nokia mobile phones, and subsequently, Nokia began promoting the service through the Nokia Xpress Browser and via the Nokia Store. The service quickly reached critical mass, particularly in countries such as India and Indonesia.

The launch of the Nokia Asha touchscreen devices was another important milestone for Vuclip.

Nickhil calls Nokia Asha Touch ‘low cost smartphones’ and they are an important part of his company’s future.

“There are four billion people in the emerging markets. A lot of them are going to be mobile-only or mobile-first users and they all want video. They won’t be on 4G networks but instead primarily on feature phones and low cost smartphones on 2G and 3G networks. 

“I want all of them to think of Vuclip as the go-to place for mobile video, just like YouTube is for the desktop. I want that to be the future for Vuclip.”