Archive for the 'Internet Industry in India' Category

Innovating, by embracing the past

Over at the apnakoi blog, I wrote about how traditional matrimonial websites have failed to leverage existing social connections amongst its users.

Here’s an excerpt…

Long before the internet became a household utility – in fact long before dial-up connections, or even the humble dial-tone – families indulged in matchmaking by tapping into far reaching social networks within their existing communities.  Chances were a relative, neighbour, or co-worker knew someone, who in turn knew someone, perfect for their son or daughter. Due diligence was reasonably effortless, with shared acquaintances between the two families vouching for the prospective bride or groom.

With each new generation, the fundamentals of this matchmaking model have evolved to keep pace with the changing times. Today, matchmaking is an indulgent pastime not just around family kitchen tables, but across college and corporate campuses alike.

Read the complete blog post here.

Blogging break over

Late last year I took a prolonged break from blogging, to focus on a new website aimed at the increasingly global ‘Generation Y’ South Asian.   On Jan 20th, we did a beta release of our cost-free, social matchmaking website – apnakoi.com.

I’m excited about the possibilities ahead, and look forward to sharing the ‘apnakoi story’ with regular readers of my blog.  We’ve  launched the apnakoi blog where you’ll find updates about our website, including new feature launches and an ongoing discussion with our member-base.

Stay tuned!

Conference presentation on SlideShare

To view my presentation slides from last month’s USID Conference in Bangalore, India, head to – http://www.slideshare.net/vmalhotra/usid2008-presentation

USID2008 Conference on Design Innovation & User Experience

In our personal space, we artfully manage a constant dialogue across our networks – whether on Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, or via tools like Twitter and Friend Feed. We effortlessly forge new communities of interest, and participate in a wider conversation.

In contrast, our workspaces are far better at enforcing hierarchy than they are at fostering a sense of community. Our workspace tools help control the message, rather than start a dialogue that would encourage collaboration and participation.

What can businesses do to adapt and thrive in this new environment? And how can smaller businesses take advantage of these new tools and technologies to compete globally?

I will be discussing the above themes in detail at the USID 2008 Conference on Design Innovation and User Experience, being held in Bangalore, India from 4 – 6  September, 2008 (via a video link).  If you happen to be in Bangalore and would like to attend the USID conference, please register at their website.

And if you happen to have any specific queries based on the themes discussed above, drop me an email and I’ll try and cover it in my presentation.

Indian Internet Industry

There has been much pontificating over what is a suitable metaphor for the economic, cultural and inevitably, societal renaissance that India has been experiencing – ever since an unassuming economist put paid to decades of inept economic policy and set forth a reform agenda that brought the country back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Accurately labelled the ‘caged tiger’ by The Economist, back in June 8, 1991, India has in recent times also been referred to as the ‘wise elephant’ by erudite commentators like Gurcharan Das.

But it is perhaps The Economist’s recently applied metaphor of the peepul (sacred fig) tree that best captures the forces at play in 21st century India. Alluding to the resilience and fortitude of the growth engine of the country – the private sector – The Economist wrote “the peepul has a habit of making room for itself, poking up through roads, sometimes smothering its rivals.”

Anyone who has experienced India knows that entrepreneurial achievement and innovation happen against the odds, often miraculously. A potent example of an entire sector that has flourished – happily unbeknownst to many of the bureaucratic fat cats – has been the Indian internet industry. To understand this emerging sector is to understand the India of tomorrow.

In recent years, there has been a new buzz about town, enough, in fact, to attract inspired global Indians and Westerners alike, who bring a fresh, new perspective. Tellingly, these entrepreneurs are younger, more confident, and less risk averse than any generation that preceded it.

While some of their new online ventures could easily be dismissed as frivolous clones of successful US-based websites, many of them carve a niche for themselves adapting their tone, design and message for the local market.

In the coming weeks, this blog will focus on entrepreneurship in India, commenting on the innovation and creativity that distinguishes the Indian online scene.

Babajob.com is perhaps an odd example to elaborate on the opportunities presenting themselves in India for budding entrepreneurs – it was founded by an American working for Microsoft, after all. Yet, the origins and motivations of Babajob.com offer an insight into the uniqueness of the Indian online opportunity. Sean Blagsvedt, while working for Microsoft in Hyderabad, experienced first hand the dichotomy between a burgeoning middle-class with an ever increasing disposable income, and the less fortunate millions who are uneducated and have fewer opportunities to rid themselves of their plight.

His eureka moment was inspired by research that argued that rather than a dearth of jobs, it was the absence of a network that connected potential employers with employees – especially for domestic services like maids, cooks, drivers, and nannys. His answer – a ‘village Linked In’ that connected India’s less fortunate via a network that simplified the process of finding employment through personal connections.

It may take a while for the service, which launched in August 2007, to hit critical mass and morph into a thriving online network. Regardless, Babajob.com is a shining example of the kind of opportunity available, and innovation happening in India.

Do you know of other examples that throw light on innovation in the online space in India? Send through your observations and examples.


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