Author Archive for Amit Ranjan

Please participate in the Empower Social Media Research Survey

EmPower is a global research & media services company based out of New York & Bangalore. They are conducting a research study about the extent & impact of Internet-based social media (blogs, wikis, podcasts etc) in India. This must rank amongst the earliest research exercises at understanding the consumer behavior in the social media space in India.

As part of the research, EmPower has created an online consumer survey which needs to be filled out by users. This is a short survey and takes app 7-8 minutes (I took it myself). Can I request the readers of this blog to spare a few moments and help them gather some meaningful & actionable data.

Here is the survey link (you can also click the image below to access it)

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Event announcement: BarCampDelhi3 on Dec 8th

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BarCampDelhi3 is happening on the 8th of Dec. The venue for the event is Impetus Technologies at Noida. We’d like to invite readers of this blog to attend the event and contribute in whatever way they can- as a volunteer, speaker, blogger, podcaster, sponsor etc. For other details and for adding your name to the wiki, please visit http://barcamp.org/BarCampDelhi3.

For Delhi based startups, this is a good opportunity to get some feedback/validation about your work-in-progress product/service.

Like always, the setting for the barcamp is likely to be informal but highly infectious.

Look forward to seeing you there….

Indian Web2.0- different strokes, different folks..

I write a blog about Indian web 2.0 space (whatever exists of it!) and its reader base is somewhat different from the Venturewoods community; I am cross posting this so as to get reactions from the audience here.

images.jpgI had been internally debating whether or not this post made any sense. What precipitated my decision in the affirmative was this piece of news that I read on ContentSutra. As things stand today, I can sense a general environment of conjecture about Indian Web2.0 amongst its thought leaders. There is a continuum of opinions, with people’s reactions ranging from cautious disbelief to speculative anticipation. Different people (or organizations) seem to be taking divergent positions and while everybody has a right to a course of action that best serves their own interests, I wonder what this collectively means to the Indian Web 2.0 entrepreneurs themselves. For there is a not insignficant number of people who have Web2.0 as their ‘occupational karmabhoomi’. Many of them are betting their lives & careers on Web2.0 and/or committing significant resources to carve out their livelihood in this space. Hence this issue needs much closer introspection, at least for the sake of that specific group.

Let me piece together a bunch of recent news item, or some of my own observations to give you a sense of what I am driving at. (My apologies if this looks a little sensational, but I need to do it thus, to get my point across)

Avnish Bajaj Says Social Networking Is “A Waste Of Time” In India – Avnish Bajaj, given his experience, surely knows quite a bit about the Indian internet industry; so when he voiced his concerns, you have to accord credence to his views. He did clarify later that he was referring to pure SNS sites. In fact its not just online social networking, he has earlier expressed general skepticism about Indian Web 2.0, probably because of the low internet penetration figures and immature state of the industry.

Sequoia Capital invests 7 million in Minglebox – Sequoia is a big name in venture funding of internet startups. They have internationally backed some of the biggest names in this business, so when their Indian arm invests a sizable sum in a SNS startup, that hasn’t really set the roads on fire (as yet) and is just one in an increasingly crowded space, you have to notice it. Personally I think this decision makes sense for them, for as an investor you have finite choices and if they have to bet on somebody in the Indian SNS space, their choice is better than many of the others. But my main point here is that they are certainly not as skeptic as Avnish about Indian Web2.0.

Canaan Partner says Web 2.0 not high on its priority list- Canaan said that while they are looking at the software & internet space, they are not hugely kicked about Web2.0; they are more aligned towards transaction based models. Canaan with Alok at the helm of its affairs, surely knows a thing or two about the Indian internet space.

Media/Entertainment industry hots up to internet (incl Web2.0)
– One recent trend worth noticing is that the big Indian media companies (having huge reach through their TV channels)– Times, NDTV, CNN IBN, Reliance Entertainment are getting their internet act together. They obviously think that the internet is the next big medium after the television. In fact, its not just Indian media companies but foreign ones as well. Take the case of MIH India, which has been promoted by a South African media house, Naspers. MIH is committing serious advertising money to their products and surely they are betting big on this space. I must add that the media companies are eyeing the internet space in general, but it’s safe to assume that they are partly influenced by the buzz around ‘web2.0’.

No dearth of VC money for internet space – You would agree that there is more venture capital money available for the Indian internet space that what the market can absorb. (in fact in India, that’s probably true not just for venture capital but for big ticket private equity as well); and the blame for this clearly lies with us- the startup guys, the entrepreneurs themselves, for not creating enough compelling products & services that can be considered ‘investment grade’ by owners of the capital.

My question is – for young, inexperienced first time Indian web 2.0 entrepreneurs, who are mostly bootstrapping or meagerly angel funded, and who dream of making it big on the Indian internet scene, what should they make of this?

Announcing Proto Summer Edition 2007

logoproto.jpgI am happy to announce the summer edition of Proto.in to the Venturewoods community. This is slated for 21-22 July at Chennai and is in continuation of its first edition that took place in January earlier this year. For those who came in late, Proto is intended to be a springboard for upcoming startups in India. Modeled on the hugely successful DEMO that is held in Silicon Valley, Proto is organized by the Knowledge Foundation, a non-profit body started by a group of like minded tech enthusiasts.

The first edition of Proto was a good stepping stone. We did some things right, while there were some areas where we could have done better. We intend to leverage on its learnings and make sure that the second edition is a more compelling experience for all participants- startups, technologists, investors, media etc.

So how will ProtoSE be different? For starters, the event is being thrown open to startups from other Asian countries & we expect participation from South East Asia. We are expecting more widespread representation from the investor community, having received confirmations from quite a few VC firms. Prominent industry/academic bodies like IAMAI, TiE, TeNeT, ASES (Incubation Cell Network based out of Stanford University), The Technopreneur Development Division of Malaysia (TeDD), IDA of Singapore have confimed their support as well. More details on the Proto blog.

The format of the event is likely to be the same as before – anybody can nominate, but only 30 chosen startups (selected by a expert panel) will get to take the stage during the event. The nominations are now open, so if you are a startup wanting to tell the world what you have created, go file your nominations right now. There is a participation fee of 10K, but only if you are in the final 30. Registration for attendees will open shortly. The website for Proto SE07 is currently work in progress and should be ready in a week. We are also looking for event sponsors, so if that is you, drop us an email.

We look forward to support from Venturewoods community for this event. We are also open to suggestions about how we can take this event to the next level.

Proto- bringing the best Indian startups under one roof

proto-logo3.jpgIf you are a tech startup, a venture capitalist, an aspiring technology entrepreneur or just somebody who thinks that there is more to Indian technology than BPOs & call centers, book your date with Proto. Proto is a first of its kind event, that will showcase the best of Indian startups under one roof. It is being held in Chennai on 21st/22nd Jan,07. The idea for Proto is inspired by Demo, the annual bash in Silicon Valley, that is fast becoming the Mecca for launching emerging technological innovations.

Proto’s tagline is ‘Create..Collaborate..Contribute’. This is derived from the three distinct dimensions that characterize any technology ecosystem, viz. the Creators (entrepreneurs), the Collaborators (VCs) and the Contributors (technologists/professionals). Thus the event is likely to be a meeting ground for people from these communities.

Proto is planned as a two-day event where 30 chosen companies will get 10 mins each to show their product to a select panel comprising VCs and technologists. The emphasis is less on a marketing style presentation and more on demonstrating live, the product they have built or are building. The companies that want to showcase their products will have to go through a screening procedure, before they are allowed in the select lot. Priority will be given to those companies that are actually seeking funding from VCs, angel investors etc., as this is a good opportunity to make a good impression before such an audience. The participating startups as well as the VCs will be charged a (nominal) entry fees to ensure greater involvement. And the startups could be from any area- web based services, consumer hardware, mobile, telecom, Web2.0, Mobile2.0, ecommerce, IT enabled services et al.

Proto is being organized by the same team which organized BarCamp Chennai and BlogCamp. That group is being spearheaded by Vijay Anand, who is himself a tech entrepreneur and works for the TeNET-IIT Madras program.

If you want to showcase your product/technology, use this form (click the nominate link) to file your nomination. If you want to attend the event, keep yourself informed via the Proto blog and register for the event post 30th Nov (when registrations open). For any enquiries/suggestions, use this form to contact us.

Here’s hoping that Proto acts as a catalyst in spurring innovation led entrepreneurship in this country.

N.B. The Proto website is still under construction and should be fully operational shortly.

You can read more about Proto here, here, here and here.

Indian local search gets hot with the launch of Guruji…

The Indian internet landscape is getting more competitive by the day. Not only is it widening in breath, it is also getting deeper. Search engines have traditionally been at the heart of how the internet works, and we now have multiple local search engines to choose from. The latest (and most promising) entrant to this field is Guruji, which launched last week. Read ahead….

TracBac – making life easier for visual designers

TracBac is a Web2.0 visual collaboration tool that makes life easier for designers. It is targeted specifically at people whose creative lives revolve around images, e.g., ad agencies, web designers, visualisers etc. The process of creating designs/campaigns involves a lot of going back & forth between clients and reviewers. And is generally a painful process, with confusion prevailing over approvals, versions, last minute design changes etc. This is the area that TracBac tries to address.
continue reading on Webyantra…….