Friday, May 30, 2008

Antya - The End Result




Antya is a search engine which leverages the power of organizing information based on user's inputs. It's a web directory built up by the users for the users. A simple search will not only return you results for various web sites but it also gives you various related keywords related to the search context. In addition to its own search logic, it appears to be heavily using google search engine's capability to provide search results. The menu options like News, Videos, Blogs, Images etc. return results from google search engine. I wonder why I should be coming to antya when I can get all the results directly from google.

The overall concept appears to be little complicated to understand. I tried searching for "restaurants in bangalore" and it gave me results that pointed to another search engine "burrp" in addition to other restaurants. The results may or may not be localized since it probably relies on the keywords that are tagged by a user to a web site. For a consumer who is looking for local information, this search engine probably may not give the right answers. Of all the search engines that I have covered in past, I think this one does not stand out as an aid to an average consumer looking for relevant information.

The founders of Antya, if you are reading this blog, I would appreciate if you can provide some more information for the benefit of our readers!

Appreciate if anyone of you reading this blog can share your understanding about antya !!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indian search engines go viral

Indian Search engines are aggressively marketing themselves leveraging every possible marketing route that they can think of. In addition to strategic tie-ups with Indian web sites, the search engines like burrp and asklaila are getting themselves covered on television networks like NDTV and CNN-IBN. I came across two video clippings on youtube which are a testimony of how serious this business is shaping up into Indian Internet marketplace. The companies like justdial are putting up their commercial advertisements on youtube on a regular basis attracting millions of net surfers attention. It will be interesting to see how many of them will last for next 2-3 years. Check out some of the videos below:

Justdial Advertisement:

Media Coverage on asklaila and burrp:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ubona - India's first Speech Recognition enabled Search Engine







I am quite amazed by the number of search engines in indian e-space that I have discovered in past few weeks. Check Ubona : a Speech Recognition enabled search engine. It is a product from yet another bangalore based start-up which is all set to create a niche for itself atleast in the restaurant market in Bangalore. All you have to do is to dial +91-80-40700000 and say the name of the restaurant that you wish to visit. The system after successful speech recognition guides you through an IVR system which provides you with two key options:

a) Get connected directly to the selected restaurant or

b) Get the contact numbers of the selected restaurant on your mobile via sms.

I actually tried it with couple of restaurants and found it fairly accurate. If the system is unable to recognize the restaurant name it prompts you to say it again. The biggest advantage that I see for Ubona is that they do not have the overhead of managing a call center which would have been otherwise a major cost center. On the flip side, the real challenge will be to handle and accurately recognize speech in a country which is multilingual and has a wide variety of accents to converse even in a common language like English. However, I still feel this is the coolest innovation that I have seen in the recent times as far as search engine market is concerned. The Ubona web site says that very soon they will be extending their search to other segments like real estate, travel, entertainment etc.

I think these are great times for any advertiser who is suddenly offered with tons of options to advertise and gain visibility of his products or services in today's competitive marketplace.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Silicon Valley Startups - It's real and happening in India






Alright I am not sure if you guys will be interested in reading this stuff but I am too excited to share with you all. I came back from a day long conference cum exhibition on start-up ventures in India. There were around 40 startups who were displaying their products which will revolutionize the way ordinary people like you and me live life....This was an effort by a magazine called Smart techie which attempted to bring together VC, startups and Industry leaders on one platform for the first time. The distinguished speakers included Infy CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan, Vivek Mansingh (Country Manager, Dell), Praveen Vishakantiah (President, Intel India), Sharad Sharma (CEO, Yahoo India). In addition to this there were speakers like Ashish Gupta (Founder of junglee.com), Prof. YLR Moorthy from IIM Bangalore and many others. The key theme was to really educate, motivate and inspire the entrepreneurs of today and the budding ones and guide them on how to succeed. Here are some of the points that I could capture from various speakers and discussions regarding taking a plunge into a startup and steering it to success:

1. Introspect if you are ready for a startup? Remember it is just not about thinking of a cool or a whacky idea. We all get ideas, what really matters is if you have the desire, passion, patience and a mindset to go through the pains of a startup. Are you prepared to make sacrifices at both personal and professional level. Be honest to yourself

2. Evaluate your idea by going to Market first. Do not ever start by building a product. Go meet the customers, understand their problems see if are idea can solve their problems or add value to the existing solutions.

3. Never think that you are the only person who has got this whacky idea. At any given point in time there are a number of people who may be building same product or service to solve the same problem. Who will succeed will depend on who has understood the problem correctly and who can deliver it.

4. Be imaginative. You can only win customers by being more and more imaginative about the way you can solve their problems.

5. A startup can succeed only if it has fours important things:
- great idea with a solid business plan and a scalable revenue model
- a passionate leader who is a great visionary, communicator and team player
- great passionate generalist team willing to make real sacrifices and an attitude to do any thing to make it succeed
- a disciplined, consistent way of executing the plan

6. The biggest challenge for a startup is to market its product. Build your network or get a person with a network as your CEO. The objective is to succeed so keep your ego aside !

7. If you are in a startup create same rules for personal and professional life. You cannot have two sets of rules to follow when at work and when at home.

8. Do not be scared of failures, if you do not fail, you will not learn to succeed. See failures as a stepping stone to success. Do not penalize someone in your company for failing... Fix the problem and move on rather than crucifying someone. You can always come back and coach him.

9. Leverage the ecosystem around you and leverage the benefit of co-existence. That is, find partners in your business and expand your revenue streams... It is not an era of working in isolation. it as an era of collaboration and shared businesses!

10. Lastly, find out forums like StartUp City where you can build a network where you can find a mentor, guide, partner, friend who can help you succeed in your venture!

Some useful references:
1. Organizer: http://www.thesmarttechie.com/
2. Sun StartUp Essentials for low cost hardware and free engineering support : http://www.sun.com/emrkt/startupessentials/index.jsp
3. Amazon Web services with hosting services at no cost : http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=343536
4. Microsoft Startup zone (case studies to resources):
http://www.microsoftstartupzone.com/
5. National Entrepreneurial Network : www.nen.org

Friday, May 23, 2008

Burrp - A search engine with a difference













Burrp is a search engine with a difference. Unlike other search engines that i played around with this one does not have a wider coverage. It has carved out a niche for itself by providing an online TV guide search in addition to local restaurant search and article search. Nothing impresses me more than the TV search guide. You can search TV programs for different channels like star, Zee, Zoom, Cartoon network etc. You can get the alerts on SMS, or receive the schedule of your favorite programs on email. However, I did not like the other two searches... The results were inaccurate and not relevant. I am not sure if this engine can last only on the basis of TV scheduling capability. BTW how many of you actually going to use this feature! At least you can count me out!! I still have to figure out how the owners are promoting this site.

Business Model: I guess the following may be true:
1. Directory Listing
2. Advertisements
3. Data profiling based on TV scheduling based statistics from its registered users. I am sure TV channels will be interested in using this data for their TV programing....

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Justdial.com - India's no.1 search engine










justdial.com is india's leading search engine and I must say it is the best of the lot. Started with yellow pages it has come a long way. Just dial is available on phone, web and mobile. I never realized its popularity till I saw my wife becoming a big fan of its number - 6999 9999!! The service is fast and impressive. If you are on road and looking out for a restaurant, give them a call and you will get a list of all the restaurants in that area. What's even amazing is that the call center rep can even connect you directly to a service provider like restaurant. The web experience is amazing as well. You can have local search for any vendor or item. The advertiser has an option to post a video, a print ad along with his contact details. This is traditionally different to conventional models where a service provider would typically give the advertiser a web page to put his details. It saves cost for advertiser as well as publisher without losing the communication medium.

key features include:
1. Multi channel search support - SMS, Phone, Web
2. Local search by city and area for a number of categories like movies, eat outs, hotels
3. support for receiving results on SMS or email
4. Easy ways for advertisers to publish information - video, pop up ads with scanned images
5. Ability to connect phone calls to advertisers
6. Post requirements to different vendors for competitive bids
7. Has a toolbar

Business Model:

1. Needless to say directory listing - premium charges for other advertising solutions
2. Pay per click (not too sure?)
3. Lead generation

I am wondering when they will launch their services in local language! If you are in India add this number to your cell phone(6999 9999)....! You never know when you may need it...

Friday, May 16, 2008

search local with asklaila.com









I don't know how the promoters of asklaila got its name but nevertheless it does tells you what you want to know. This search engine unlike guruji.com appears to be more organized in terms of areas that you can search. It has strong financial backing and a pretty strong management team.. You can search by city as well as your local area. So if you are looking out for a florist in your area or any restaurant you can simply visit asklaila.com. A closer look revealed following key features:

1. Local search by city as well as local area within a city
2. search on mobile
3. Allows you broader common categories for search like events, restaurants, shopping, travel etc.
4. The coolest feature: You can run web search while get the results sent on your mobile via SMS instead of copying it.
5. Search text boxes are intelligent and can help you complete the word automatically as you start typing.
6. A pretty cool user interface

The search is currently restricted to four cities: Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and chennai but the results are very accurate and relevant.

Business Model: My guesses
1. Directory listing
2. Cost per click
3. lead generation using sms and email

Not sure if it has tied up with any other web sites to offer its search capability. I feel guruji.com is much ahead in race with its strategic alliances as well as cool search features..!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Indian Search Engine Business Models - guruji.com

Staring this week, I specifically started looking at various indian web sites to determine how they are building up their business models. I started off with search engines, looked around some e-commerce sites, looked at some real -estate sites, a number of community sites. A first glance told me that it is not a simple job so decided to pick up one vertical at a time. This week I will spend time on search engines.

A. guruji : This banaglore based startup is really making waves in the local indian search engine. It has got strong VC funding and is all set to take on giants like google, yahoo and msn in domestic arena.











Key features:
1. Multilingual search
2. Local search - search by city, area etc
3. search movies in different theaters
4. search and play music through streaming for free (Awesome feature!!). A perfect product stickiness feature :)
5. Sponsored local listing comes up as part of search
6. Has browser plugin to capture more customers
7. The search plug-in embedded into a number of indian web sites

Business Model: Looking at the web site I guess the following may be supported:

1. CPC: Cost per click model for sponsored ads
2. revenue sharing probably with other partners (Not too sure but music content sites joining hands definitely involves some changing hands in terms of revenue! Will dig deep later)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Internet Business Models Part 2

I started this blog with Internet business models and then got drifted to advertisements, perhaps because it is so vast and difficult to understand :) I will come back to it probably sometime down the line. Let's review some more business models to widen our understanding of net commerce. As per my research following represent some other interesting models:
1. Affiliate Model: An affiliate model allow you to acquire customers with the help of your partners/affiliates. The partner or affiliate would typically put a link on his web site pointing to yours. You share the revenue with the partner if you are able to make a sale to the referred customer. This is a very common model and a vast number of web sites in this ecosystem use it. There are broker companies like commissionjunction or element5 which act as a broker between publishers and advertisers. The commissions vary from 5% to 60% or more depending upon the publisher.
2. E-Commerce: This model allows you to sell a product or service through web site. You can create a e-commerce environment and then charge sellers for hosting their products. The sellers can be charged catalog listing fee as well as a share from each sale that is being made. There are different types of e-commerce models - business-to-business(b2b), business-to-customer(b2c), customer-to-customer(c2c).
3. Catalog Listing: This is another interesting model where the site owner provides the platform for uploading different catalogs. For example a real estate owner can list a number of properties that he wants to sell or rent. Similarly, a rental car agency can list all the cars available on rent for users to search and select. The publisher is charged for the duration of time for which the content will remain hosted on the web site.

I will come back to some other interesting models later this week. For now you can check out a good collection of these models at Fred Wilson's blog

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Internet Advertisements - Part 2

Internet advertising is becoming more and more creative with marketers looking at different ways to promote their products in an effort to catch maximum eye-balls. All this has led to a great revolution in the way people advertise on web sites. I looked at yahoo advertising and could easily see around 30-40 ways of placing image or text based advertisements. If you want to get a flavor of what I am sharing visit Yahoo ads
The ads are either static or dynamic in nature. So you can have a flash ad with roll over effect or a text ad with link. A flash ad may start off covering the entire web page and then reduce to a static image sitting in a small corner of the web page. In effect it is basically a strategic placement of images and texts to grab maximum eye balls within a session. I am putting some other links which can give you a good idea regarding different ways the web companies use their asset for advertising. My suggestion: Go through different ad models before choosing the right one for your web site.
MSN India
NDTV (Most user friendly mechanism to explain the advertisement methodology)
CNN-IBN (You can also get an idea on the statistics and rate card on this site)

It is interesting to see that news channels have a very simple solution for advertisers as compared to portals which have made it sound very complicated. If as an advertiser, I would like to look at advertising options on portals, it will need some assistance from sales people ! Nevertheless I guess the more you visit web sites you will uncover many more models. Piece of advise learn only the fundamentals and then spin around based on your site requirements.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Types of Advertisements on internet

Before I jump onto the next business model it would be a good idea to explore the different types of advertisements that you can place on a web page:
Reference: http://advertise.indiatimes.com/

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Business Models on Internet

While the whole world is getting connected through the power of web, I am scratching my head trying to figure out how these millions of web sites make money to spin the financial community out of gear. The quest to understand the inherent behavior of how this ecosystem works together lead me to make startling revelations about the power economics of web. This blog is going to be all about my learnings on wild wild world of web.

I am going to start with one of the oldest business model built around world wide web:

Advertising: One of the biggest source of revenue for various web sites is advertising. A number of companies largely thrive on the number of advertisers that they can pull on to their web sites. This in turn depends on the traffic which a web site can generate. There are different ways by which the companies charge advertisers for putting up ads on their web sites. Some of them that I am aware of include:
1) CPM (Cost per thousand impressions or views): Here the advertiser is charged on the basis of 1000 views of the ad on a specific web site. The ad can be in text or image format. Every time a visitor lands on a page where the ad is placed, it is being counted as one impression. The publisher is paid only for a unique visitor viewing the ad. The banners, popups, skyscrapers are examples of CPM. Generally CPM is around $1 for advertising on a popular web site.
2) CPC (Cost per click) : This model works on the premise that everytime a visitor clicks on a ad link, the advertiser is charged for the ad. Google model is largely based on CPC. Everytime you run a search you can see a list of adwords appearing on the right side of your search page. You can learn more about this on www.google.com/adwords.
3) CPA (Cost per action): This model requires the visitor to complete an action like filling a survery form, completing registration, voting for a product etc. The advertiser is being charged for each completed action by the visitor on the web site.

Next we will look at what is beyond advertising models.
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