Met with some folks at TeNet and related companies at IIT Chennai. I think this group has some of the most amazing innovations sitting in there, with a vision to bring connectivity and applications to rural India. While the success of CorDECT and Midas is well known, its the vision in entirety which gets most compelling. The system revolves around nLogue (the operator — they have ISP license to run these services) providing a village kiosk, a multimedia PC, to a village entrepreneur, and starts building on top:
1. A 15000 rupee medical diagnostics kit, which in conjunction with videoconferencing, enables doctors to remotely prescribe (not just give general advise) for common ailments. Competitive products cost 5x or more.
2. A 50000 rupee ATM, which uses the kiosk, and builds on top, to bring banking to villages (ICICI is participating) — competing products cost 5x or more.
3. A 50000 rupee microGSM technology, which enables 100 rupee/month unlimited in-district service, based on softswitch which sits on the same kiosk — similar capex/line is otherwise achievable only at high subscriber density)
4. Using rural workforce for ITES/BPO services, allowing them to earn a livelihood.
5. A 5000 rupee thin client based computer/IPTV (monitor extra — through affiliated venture, novatium)
6. A local language word processing tool

The list goes on; collectively, something that could change the face of rural India. Audacious, and thankfully, audacious enough. The rural entrepreneur can start with the kiosk and keep adding modules (and revenues!) as business starts coming in.

The good part is that this vision is the core, and each of the companies mentioned above are then free to pursue their own commercial objectives as well (which might not be tied to just rural telephony).

Alok Mittal

Alok is a first generation entrepreneur, currently CEO and Co-founder of Indifi, a platform for small business lending.

Alok is a board member at TiE Delhi, and a founding member of Indian Angel Network.

Prior to Indifi, Alok ran India venture operations for Canaan Partners in India, with focus on internet, technology and BPO space. Earlier, Alok cofounded JobsAhead.com, a leading job portal which was acquired by Monster.com. Alok is a computer science graduate from IIT Delhi and, postgraduate from UC, Berkeley.

The views expressed on this site are personal views of Alok, and do not constitute an offical opinion of any company or organization.