Just saw this article from Avnish, Matrix Partners. Avnish, I know you are around somewhere on venturewoods, so please do participate in this friendly discussion!

A followup would be unnecessary if I agreed with this statement. However, I must say that I myself do believe that the “kids hanging out” variety of social networks are premature in India. These businesses are essentially media businesses, and reach and engagement levels are the key metrics. Besides the internet penetration being low in the country, kids are not spending hours at end on the internet — the engagement levels simply arent there as yet. The only hope for these is a strong and simple mobile addon.

And now for the exciting part — some social networks will fly in India, IMHO. I believe these will be driven by specific tangible benefits, rather than being “hangouts”. I will afford a couple of examples. The first one is referral based recruitments. The Indian e-recruitment technology is 10 years old (no, there are no company wars here! I mean this across the board.) Global sites like linkedin, simplyhired, jobster and so on have demonstrated how social networking can be tied into recruiting very effectively. The Indian model is going to be different from these, and I believe there is a significant market there.

The second example that I would afford is networks for buying services (I am yet to see a good model around product ecommerce) — services are intangible, and often very fragmented. Think of hiring a printer for printing visiting cards. These selections are essentially social in nature, and I believe translating them to the web will be productive.

I am sure there are a lot more examples — social internet is waiting to be discovered in India. And like any other business, the customer is a good place to start from.

Alok Mittal

Alok is a first generation entrepreneur, now in the venture capital business. Alok heads up venture operations for Canaan Partners in India, with focus on internet, technology and BPO space. Alok is also a founding member of Indian Angel Network - an organization comprising successful entrepreneurs looking to invest in seed stage businesses. Prior to this, Alok cofounded JobsAhead.com, a leading job portal which was acquired by Monster.com. Alok is an active charter member of TiE Delhi. 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.

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