Home / Companies / People /  The defining moment: Kavin Bharti Mittal

At 25, Kavin Bharti Mittal might say he’s fast running out of things to do. Telecom has always been an interest, which is natural for the son of Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises, which runs India’s biggest phone company, Bharti Airtel Ltd.

“I’m extremely passionate about the telecom sector but I love building amazing products for the mobile Internet space even more. It’s a passion and not something out of consequence," he says. “Though I must confess that as a kid I always dreamed of racing in F1."

In his final year at Imperial College in the UK, where Mittal was pursuing his engineering masters in electronics and electrical engineering with management, he, along with classmate Namit Chadha, founded AppSpark to explore possibilities in the mobile space.

In May 2009, AppSpark launched Movies Now in partnership with, an iPhone application that allowed users to buy movie tickets on the go. AppSpark launched a sequel—Movies Now HD in 2010, and together both applications have been downloaded just under 250,000 times. Movies Now HD was featured on the App Store as ‘One of the 10 Essential Movie Goer Apps’. The app has received plenty of mention in the media.

“We were just a bunch of college kids trying out our hand at something new and we built something that was used by almost half a million users. That will always be the defining moment for me," the younger Mittal says.

In December 2010, AppSpark started building Foodster, a whole new take on food recommendations. Foodster was launched in beta in June 2011.

Even before that, Mittal had already built a formidable resume, with three-month internships as a summer analyst with investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and as an associate technology manager with Google Inc., where he researched and created a model to help analyse Google’s worldwide mobile app strategy.

But the most memorable time for him was the two months he spent as an associate vehicle engineer intern with the McLaren Racing Formula 1 Team in September-October 2006. Here he had the chance to work with the team that developed the circuitry to control the electronics of the McLaren MP4-21 (2006) car.

He was particularly responsible for developing a new lighting system for the steering wheel that was used to indicate track flag colours (yellow, blue, green) to the driver in a more efficient manner.

“I’m a really big F1 fan and it was a dream come true to work on the McLaren F1 car of that year and be exposed to the inner workings of a top F1 team. At Google, I was exposed to an amazing culture of innovation and work style that I’ll never forget. It’s something we dream of building at BSB (Bharti SoftBank Holdings Pte. Ltd)," Mittal says.

Apart from that, he was also the drummer for a rock band in college, the opening batsman for the Varsity 1st 11 Cricket Squad, a local university club in England (2006-2009) and also raced for the go-karting team.

But his biggest challenge is his current role as head of strategy and new product development at Bharti SoftBank Holdings, a joint venture between Bharti Enterprise and Japan’s SoftBank Corp. that offers mobile Internet services. The focus is on three key areas—social media, gaming and e-commerce.

He’s returned to India because of the potential. “India today is where the US was in 1995-96, and where China was in 2003. That’s the one big reason why I came back to India. It’s exciting to be in a market as nascent as India where no one is building stuff for a ‘mobile-first’ populace. There are simply not enough people doing stuff for the ‘mobile-first’ market. I wanted to harness the potential of that space and that is why I came back to set up BSB," he says.

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