Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  MangoSense | Making virtual books a reality

Past life

Jagdish Repaswal, 30, founder and chief executive officer of MangoSense Pvt. Ltd, had been building consumer websites in the US for a decade before he moved back to India in August 2011. A computer science graduate from the Army Institute of Technology in Pune, Repaswal worked in various start-ups, in areas ranging from social media, education and mobile games to learning apps.

Repaswal has held leadership positions in companies such as DimensionU, an educational video-game firm, and SBA Technologies, a mobile commerce company in the US.

Eureka moment

Repaswal always had ideas on technology start-ups and even tried working on a few while in the US. In 2006, he worked with friends to build an online portal for discounted consumer deals specific to cities. “It was like Snapdeal, though the website hadn’t launched in India at the time I was working on my idea," he says. After six months, Repaswal gave up—his friends were based in different cities and there was little financial support.

In April 2011, he co-founded Bridg.Me, a venture offering conference-calling solutions to corporate clients. It won an award at the start-up weekend in New York but, strapped for time, he didn’t pursue it further.

Soon after, he heard from a friend that similar e-commerce ventures were doing well in India. “I realized just having an idea is not enough, carrying it forward and executing is everything. I decided to have no regrets and just follow my dreams," he says. Four months later, Repaswal moved back to India to launch MangoSense in Pune.

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The idea for MangoReader, an application that allows people to read e-books, comment, take notes, answers quizzes, search, look up the dictionary and share with friends, occurred to Repaswal while he was working with DimensionU, his last employer in New York.

At the educational video-game company, the techie from Bikaner in Rajasthan built engaging and interactive games around mathematics and literacy programmes for elementary-, middle- and high-school students in the US. “I wanted to develop a company that would make learning fun using games. I realized learning was considered boring because content itself was not interactive and didn’t generate much interest from young readers. So I thought of making content richer, interactive and engaging," he says.

Repaswal did preliminary research and small surveys to gauge the opportunity. “With iPad and smartphone devices booming in India, I realized that technology solutions for e-books were the next logical step in mobile learning."

MangoSense, which launched in August 2011, provides a platform for publishers, authors and illustrators to create rich interactive electronic storybooks and textbooks. The platform is based in HTML5 and runs seamlessly on the Web, desktops/MACs, iPad, Android phones and tablets. The company’s products—MangoEditor, MangoStore and MangoReader—are available for free on the website www.mangoreader.com

MangoEditor is an authoring tool that brings authors and illustrators together to create an e-book with interactive elements such as images, videos, graphs, maps and quizzes. MangoStore is a Web-enabled electronic place where people can preview, read and buy e-books, including individual chapters.

MangoSense was launched in Baner, a suburb of Pune, where Repaswal spent most of his undergraduate years. He believed it could provide the ideal ecosystem for tech start-ups. “Not only is it closer to Mumbai, where I can do business, Pune itself is a student hub with several technology and management institutes around," he explains.

Repaswal won the British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur Award in 2012 for innovation in the digital and creative industry. Two more awards followed: MangoSense won EduStar’s best education start-up award and its app MangoReader bagged the Intel App4India award among 1,500 applications. EduStar is a platform for early-stage entrepreneurs in the education sector. In February, his company also won a special mention at the Nasscom Social Innovation Honours Awards.

Repaswal’s company today has 10 publishers, including Pratham Books, Navneet Publications and Pearson Education, as clients.

Reality check

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Plan B

“There is no plan B. If we do things right and focus on our strengths, then there is only a plan A," Repaswal says with a smile.

Secret sauce

The company’s design philosophy puts great emphasis on customization. “We have the right blend of technical, design and product skills and we blend well together. Also, the fact that a teacher can customize the content in a classroom convinces them," he says.

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