Exclusive Interview: Kenny Ye, Managing Director UCWeb India,UCWeb Browser's India Plans

Kenny YeKenny Ye is the Managing Director of UCWeb’s India Office. He oversees the Indian operations and has been instrumental in setting up the Indian operations of UCWeb. Kenny is responsible for managing the relationship with key partners and is spearheading UCWeb’s growth plans in India market.

Kenny has over 7 years of technology consultancy and business development experience in telecommunication and mobile internet industry. He has significant experience in emerging market working directly with top operators and Internet companies. He is a keen observant of the mobile internet industry and understands the market dynamics very well. Prior to joining UCWeb he has worked in Huawei as Product Manager.

WD: What is UC Browser all about? What problem are you solving? Tell us some of the Interesting/Unique features of UC Web Browser?

Kenny : UC Browser is a mobile browser optimized to give you the best and the fastest experience of mobile internet. It is available for free download on all major app stores and supports all the major platforms. Our main USP is the ease of navigation that we provide to our users.

The main problem that we are solving is that of data saving, cost saving and speed improvement while accessing internet on the mobile.  Webpage compression saves data traffic, increase speed, saves cost. We are the pioneers of data compression technology and compress content to as much as 85% or more which helps users save on data usage while accessing the internet. Also, no one wants to remember and type the URL every time he wants to access any particular website. Cell phone has limited screen real estate and it’s not convenient to input, so people prefer to access websites with links or icons, which they can easily click to navigate.  Hence we provide the option to the user to pin his favorite or most frequently visited websites on his UC Browser home page.

Some of the interesting or unique features of UC Browser are:

1. Gestures

UC Browser allows you to control tabs with a two finger swipe. One can swipe down to add a tab, swipe up to close a tab and swipe left and right to switch between tabs.

2.  File Manager

One can access the file manager from Settings, allowing users to use simple file functions and customize the default download path.

 3. Reopen Closed Tabs

Users can click the button on the top left corner of the browser to see recently closed tabs. They can also click the URLs and you can reopen them.

 4. Omnibox

The browser will autofill the content when you are typing in the URL Bar and decide whether to open the URL or search the content as keywords.

5. Quick Reads

One can keep track of all the updates of your favorite sites in Quick Reads.

 6. Night Mode Brightness Adjustment

Users can move the slider to adjust the brightness for the night mode.

7. Speed Dial in Landscape Mode

When the screen is in landscape mode, the layout of Speed Dial will be reset according to the screen size.

 8.Smart Account Manager

It is convenient for users to manage multiple accounts for one website.

 9. Webpage Background Color Adjustment

Users get the choice to set set the color and the theme for the webpage background.

 10. Optimization on QR Code

UC Browser allows faster and more accurate to identification of QR codes. QR code scanning button has been moved to URL input interface and is easy to access.

WD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced globally and in India?

Kenny : UCWeb stands for U Can Web, which is the company’s mission. UCWeb aims to provide better mobile internet experience to billions of users around the world. UCWeb was founded by HE Xiaopeng and LIANG Jie, two engineers, in 2004. YU Yongfu was Vice President at a Venture Capital, overseeing investment in IT sector at that time.

Yongfu got to know HE and Liang in 2006 for the investment project and the three of them became friends along the way. Since Yongfu was convinced by the potential of UCWeb he approached his friend LEI Jun, a reputable entrepreneur in tech sector and an angel investor in China to invest UCWeb.

UCWeb started its operations back in 2004 in China. It’s important to note that when we started it was not a Smartphone era. Feature phones were very prevalent back then and accessing internet on feature phones was not very convenient.  Typing URL’s has always been a pain. Hence we knew that ease of navigation was going to be the main point which could determine whether or not the users take up to our browser. Our R&D team did research and came up with a list of websites that users like to access more often from their mobile phones. We then integrated some key websites on our navigation page. In 2009 we released our International version and released the UC Browser for the India market. Today we have a global user base of more than 300 million users which includes over 60 million users from outside China, bulk of whom originate from India.

WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

Kenny : UCWeb was founded by HE Xiaopeng and LIANG Jie, two engineers, in 2004. Yongfu was introduced to the project two years later in 2006 and was convinced about the future of the company. He is responsible for shaping the company and is also considered as one of the founders of the company.

HE Xiaopeng is the Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer of UCWeb Inc. and is in charge of the overall product design and R&D of the company.  He has extensive working experience in global companies and as an entrepreneur.  With exceptional experience in project management, consumer analysis, software development testing, and system building, HE has profound understanding of user needs in the mobile internet industry in China. Before joining UCWeb, HE worked as Technology Manager, Testing Manager, and Project Manager at AsiaInfo Technologies (China) Co., Ltd. HE received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from South China University of Technology in 1999.

LIANG Jie is the Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of UCWeb Inc. and is in charge of the overall technology R&D of the company.  With more than 10 years of experience in technology R&D and project management, Liang has thorough knowledge in the telecom and internet industries in China. Before joining UCWeb, LIANG worked in the R&D department for large scale email systems as Senior Software Engineer and R&D Manager at AsiaInfo Technologies (China) Co., Ltd Guangzhou office.  Under his leadership, the team developed a series of telecom application software which became best selling products in the market.  LIANG’s team was also awarded one of AsiaInfo’s best R&D team. LIANG received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from South China University of Technology in 1998.

YU Yongfu currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UCWeb Inc. and is in charge of the overall strategic planning and operations of the company. With exceptional experience in strategic planning and venture capital investment, YU has insights in the telecom, Internet, and new media industries in China. Prior to joining UCWeb in 2006, YU worked at Legend Capital as a founding employee in early 2001, overseeing projects in telecom, new media, internet, and mobile internet, and was later promoted to Investment Manager, and then Vice President in 2003. YU received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the College of International Business, Nankai University in 1999.

 WD: How is UC Browser so different when there are already other Mobile Browsers available?

Kenny : We are the pioneers in cloud computing technology. Our navigation and UI is our biggest asset. Since we work on the internet model we are able to improve our product and come up with an improved version every 4-6 weeks.

WD: What technology platform is UC Browser built on? How can one download?

Kenny : UC Browser supports all major platform OS starting from Java & Symbian to Android and the latest Windows OS. It is available for download on all major app stores under free apps category. It is also available for download on our official website www.ucweb.com. In addition to this you can also find the download link on the mobile sites of our various partners across domains.

WD:  What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years in India?

Kenny :Currently our focus is to build and enhance our user base in India. Our success and adoption rate in India has been quick and very encouraging. We aim to continue with the same enthusiasm. In terms of reach we aim to pre-install our browser of any upcoming model of Indian handset manufacturer and also go through the operator route, something we have not tried so far. We are already in the discussion mode with both the handset manufacturers and operators and once the agreement is finalized we will announce the same.

 WD: What is your Marketing/Promotional approach in India? What value are you providing your customers/users/partners?

Kenny : We truly believe that the success of a product like ours depends on the user experience. Our existing users are our ambassadors who would either recommend or thrash the product in their review/feedback. Their feedback makes all the difference in determining whether his friends will also start using it or not. Word of mouth has worked very well for us in the past and we intend to continue with this promotional approach in the future as well. As far as marketing is concerned we work with our partners who promote us on their wapsites in exchange of traffic from us.

This model works both for our partners and our users as partners get the traffic on their wapsites and users gets to access the most relevant content that he is looking for.

WD : Did you raise any funding?

Kenny : YU Yongfu, the current CEO of UCWeb was Vice President at a venture capital firm, overseeing investment in 2006. UCWeb was introduced to him as an investment project to him by HE Xiaopeng and LIANG Jie, the two engineers who developed UCWeb in 2004. Since Yongfu was convinced by the potential of UCWeb he approached his friend LEI Jun, a reputable entrepreneur in tech sector and angel investor in China to fund UCWeb.

Yongfu’s strong background as an investor, UCW enabled him to raise more funding from top Venture Capitals like GGV Capital, Morningside Ventures, Ceyuan Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners and Alibaba.com at a later stage.

WD:  What is the overall plan going forward?

Kenny : Our focus and goal is to provide our users the best internet experience on their mobile devices. We always strive to improve on our providing to continually match the expectations of our users.

If you have questions for Kenny do put it on the comments box below.

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Exclusive Interview: Chandra Sekhar Reddy, CEO Sports365.in

We spoke to Chandra Sekhar CEO of Sports365 on how Sports365 is making a mark in the eCommerce space focusing on the Sports industry.

WD: What is your site all about? What problem are you solving?

CS: Live Sports365 E-Retail Pvt. Ltd  is India’s first professionally managed, comprehensive sports solutions provider to both individuals and institutions. Our portal, www.sports365.in, is an online sports shop offering 8,000+ sports goods and fitness equipment covering 90+ international and national sports brands. From badminton racquets, cricket bats, walking shoes and sports apparel we deal in a variety of products. In short, Sports365 is your one stop shop for sport equipment online. In addition to the online portal, as a part of our B2B business, we work extensively with corporates, schools and colleges, sports clubs and academies, residential properties, and hotels to offer turn-key solutions pertaining to sports infrastructure and merchandise.

We believe that the mindset towards sports is changing as our country is witnessing a “sports revolution”. Although we are heading towards this “sports revolution” there are still some challenges. Firstly, limited buying advice makes it difficult for customers to purchase the right product. To help customers making better buying decisions we have a Live Chat option and also have comprehensive buying guides for various products. As there are many technical aspects to sports goods customers require proper advice on the same to make the best buying decisions.

Secondly, access quality sports products end within the limits of metro cities, for customers outside this sphere it is a challenge to shop for good sports goods. Thirdly, affordability is another impediment that customers today face. Since there are availability and supply constraints sports equipment is being sold at steep prices. In order to address this problem we work with our brand partners to source products at better prices and ensure operational efficiencies which consequently get translated into better, more affordable prices.

WD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced?

CS : The concept of Sports365 was born from our “unrelenting passion for sports”. We hit upon this idea during one of our regular badminton games. e-Commerce was an interesting and upcoming space for a new venture and we thought why not Sports? What followed was a three month long process of internal discussions and debates, sounding off the ideas with experts and friends and some amount of business planning. The outcome was a unanimous “go ahead” and then we started the boot strapping process.

We did face some challenges while setting up. Since sports is a very niche segment there was very limited industry specific information available in structured form and so we had to work on getting sufficient information on the same. The second big challenge was to develop the relevant assortment of the products to be sold online and establishing the requisite tie-ups with the manufactures, importers, distributors etc. We also insisted on having only those people who were passionate about sports on our team and it took us some time to bring in the people with right skill sets.

Tying up with sporting and fitness personalities like Yuvraj Singh, Dipika Pallikal , Pankaj Advani and Lara Dutta also took a considerable amount of time and effort.

Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

CS: Sports365 is the coming together of management professionals with a passion for sports and accomplished sporting icons. The leadership team comprises of Sekhar Reddy and Mahesh Bhupathi.

Sekhar is a management graduate from IIM Lucknow. He has spent years at marquee firms like P&G and McKinsey & Co., working on Channel Management, Marketing, Supply Chain, Operations, Corporate Strategy, and M&A etc.

One of India’s finest tennis players, Mahesh Bhupathi needs no introduction. Mahesh Bhupathi is our director and plays a prominent role in a number of aspects of the business like vendor relations, customer engagement etc.

Why is your site so different when there are already ecommerce websites selling similar products?

CS: Right from the inception, we wanted to position www.sports365.in as “sports company run by the sports experts for sports lovers”. This philosophy sets us apart from the other players in this space.

Apart from this our online store is very category specific. This makes it easier for customers to find the products they want without having to browse through too many pages. We house an enviable range of 8000 products across 90 brands. Next we have a Live Chat feature which enables customers to connect with out experts in case they need advice about sporting equipment. This ensures informed buying decisions from the customer’s side. Lastly, our offline business element wherein we work with corporates, educational institutions, academies and clubs etc for their sports and fitness infrastructure and equipment needs sets us apart from other players in this field.

What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

CS: Our portal, www.sports365.in, is built on the Martjack platform (offered by Reasoning) which is one of the most popular and robust e-Commerce platforms in the market. This is managed completely by the platform vendor and we avail the services under the ‘software as service’ model.

Which locations is it available?

CS: We offer shipping services to over 6 lakh plus postal codes in the country. We have partnered with several reputed companies like Blue Dart, FedEx, Aramex and First Flight to make this happen. We also offer a range of payment options like cash on delivery, net banking, credit cards and debit cards.

What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

CS: Our marketing approach is holistic in nature and a healthy combination of digital marketing, offline marketing, social media marketing, mail campaigns, PR and celebrity based promotions. The objective is to create brand awareness, develop a community of sports enthusiast, facilitate direct discovery and create brand re-call.

Our digital marketing initiatives are focused largely on SEO and a highly focused paid search. We have a wonderful community of sports enthusiasts through our social media properties on facebook , twitter  and blog .

With sports icons like Mahesh Bhupathi, Yuvraj Singh, Lara Dutta, Pankaj Advani and Dipika Pallikal onboard, we have tremendous ammunition to run sports focused celebrity based promotion campaign. Recently our director Mahesh Bhupathi was interviewed by NDTV and he also spoke about his involvement with Sports365, this was a very good promotional activity for us.

We reach out to the celebrity fan bases and our institutional customers to build awareness about our site.

Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

CS: Currently, we are seed funded. We are already in active discussions with key financial investors to raise series A capital.

What is the overall plan going forward?

CS: Going forward we have a few specific goals in mind. From the B2C perspective we believe that in a few years time we will become a dominant player in the e-Commerce sector. In the B2B aspect we aim to acquire 1000 institution customers in the next 2 years. We also want to create credible business property around customer engagement. Lastly, we are excited about bringing in a whole new range of international products and give our customers the ultimate sports shopping experience.

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More about Chandra

Chandra Sekhar CEO

A management graduate from IIM Lucknow, Sekhar has spent years at marquee firms like P&G  and McKinsey & Co., working on mundane things like Channel Management, Marketing, Supply Chain, Operations, Corporate Strategy, M&A etc before deciding to follow his heart. As CEO of Sports365, Sekhar leads the functions of Category Management, Marketing & Operations. Sekhar is an avid tennis and badminton player and passionate about contributing to the sports fraternity in the country.

 

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Exclusive Interview: Nitin Purswani, Founder of eCommerce Platform Zepo.in

Nitin Purswani ,  Founder of India’s newest eCommerce platform for small businesses Zepo.in, comes from a small business background. Just after his BCom, Nitin started a t-shirt business which involved manufacturing Marathi slogan t-shirts and supplying them to retailers & wholesalers in Pune, Nashik & Mumbai. Though this went well, it remained a small business. During the same time, Nitin also tried his hand at a web-startup called Bijness.in, which unfortunately failed, but taught him a lot of things. Zepo is his third attempt at entrepreneurship.

Wirelessduniya spoke to Nitin Purswani on Zepo as a platform and their future plans.

 

WD: What is Zepo.in all about? What problem are you solving?

 Nitin: In one simple line, Zepo is an ecommerce platform which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs open their online stores in 5 minutes and start selling online easily. But there is a lot more to Zepo, than just being an ecommerce platform!

When we started Zepo, we saw a set of problems that our target audience – retailers, small manufacturers, brands and first generation entrepreneurs – were facing. These problems were holding them back from leveraging ecommerce for their brands; and problems for which easy solutions weren’t anywhere in sight.

So we went ahead and made the list of problems, and took them head-on one by one.

What Problem?

Status

How did Zepo solve it?

Opening & managing an online store is super complicated

R

Easiest user interface. If you can use Facebook, you can run an online store using Zepo.
Opening an online store costs a bomb

R

Better and affordable pricing plans. And providing value for every penny
The cheaper solutions built ugly stores

R

Launched awesome new themes and allowed basic customizationLaunch new themes every week
Payment Gateway A/C in India is a luxury. Very expensive.

R

Give Free PayTM PG at 3% TDR with Setup Fee and AMC waived offSaves upto 25k for our users
Opening a Payment Gateway A/C is a headache. Lots of paperwork.

Q

Sorry, couldn’t do much about this due to RBI regulations regarding PGThough, working on the same
Giving not just limited, but complete control over the design of online stores

Coming Soon

Allow customization by giving them HTML and CSS access for their storesWe have delivered halfway by creating beautiful themes for our stores
Getting logistics in place is a major hassle

R

Associated with Blue Dart to provide logistics support for all our store owners
Costs for shipping and delivering are sky high

R

Driving quality traffic to the store is a task

Coming Soon

We are figuring out ways to help our store owners market their brands

 

WD: Tell us the story of how it started? And the challenges you have faced?

Niting: Before Zepo, we were a small t-shirt manufacturing firm. We know from our experience, the harassment small businesses face at the hands of web-developers, designers and payment gateway providers. We realize how painstakingly difficult and time consuming it can be to take a business online in India.

Though at that time, there were some e-commerce solutions. But the international ones were generic solutions and weren’t customized to cater to the needs of Indian businesses. As far as the Indian solutions were concerned, they didn’t deliver well in the 3 most essential areas – user experience and simplicity of platform, customer service and pricing. This scenario hasn’t changed much since then.

And hence, we decided to take up these problems & solve them. So in June 2011, we approached The Morpheus, got incubated in their batch 6 and received a small funding of INR 5 lakhs. We put in some of our own money too. And then began our Journey. It took us 6 months to build the version 1.0 of this entire platform. In January, 2012 – we launched Zepo. Since then, there has been no looking back and what an exciting roller coaster ride it has been! We also raised a small seed round from One97 Mobility Fund.

You see, we have a different theory about ecommerce in India. You already have the poster boys of Indian ecommerce, Flipkart, Myntra and the likes. The Aggregators. Let’s call it ‘e-commerce as a Business’. It’s the blood bath that you see on the top – the battle between the biggies, where the game is all about the last man standing.

We believe in a more sustainable and sensible use of e-commerce – ecommerce as a Channel – where retailers, small manufacturers and brands use ecommerce to solve real problems in their business. They use it just like another medium of taking orders, LIKE A TELEPHONE!

With Zepo, our dream is to see every small business in India using this wonderful medium beneficially.

When we started out, we had 3 big challenges to solve:

  1.      Simplicity of the interface
  2.      Building the entire eco-system
  3.     Keeping it cost efficient

Fortunately, we have been very lucky to have a great team onboard – wonderful people kept joining us on our Journey, and today, we have a kick-ass team of 12 rockstars, that drive the company everyday. The mentors & investors have been equally supportive. What else would anyone need to create a real startup!  🙂

WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

Nitin: I am the sole founder. And I come from a commerce background. I don’t understand code and I have neither written a line of code, ever. But I love creating tech products.

 WD: How is your site so different when there are already ecommerce platforms like Martjack & Buildabazaar selling similar products?

Nitin: Agreed that there are other ecommerce platforms, in India and abroad, who are doing the same thing. But our focus is on this BIG niche ignored by the biggies – small businesses, entrepreneurs and first generation start-ups in India. These are artists, designers and entrepreneurs born out of modest Indian roots. They don’t have money to throw around but are doing amazing things with their limited resources. We aim to give this niche, a more specialized and effective solution than the generic ones – from integrated logistics solutions, integrated Indian payment gateways and pricing for the worth conscious Indian.

And it’s more than just integrating a payment gateway and partnering with a logistics firm. Every little thing we do – right from creating designs, stores, dashboard, providing service – we do it keeping in mind the average Indian internet user. The simplicity of our user-interface is our biggest USP. One of our store owners actually lets her 4 yr old handle the Zepo online store for her! We are that simple.

In other words, we gave up the breadth of the market in order to make our offering more compelling for India. Someone like Shopify would have trouble following us down that path, as that would mean forking their codebase and attention. And for the likes of Martjack or Build-a-Bazaar – we beat them hands down on all the 3 essential factors – simplicity of platform, customer service and pricing.

If you’d like to checkout a feature-to-feature comparison with all our competitors, you can check it out here.

 WD: What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

Nitin: We have built our entire platform on JAVA. Yes, we have built it completely in-house. We have been working tirelessly from the last 18 months now, building this wonderful platform. And we still have a long way to go.

 WD: What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?

Nitin: All our plans – the short, the medium and the long term plans are towards solving one sole objective – simplify e-commerce for small businesses in India.

And the real game will begin when we’ll have 10,000 small Indian enterprises carrying out their online businesses actively using Zepo. At that point, we’ll have an unmatched leverage over Indian e-commerce. And we can continue to tune it to benefit the small businesses, for every vertical related to e-commerce – payment gateways, logistics, marketing, etc.

To be more specific, the initiatives planned in coming 2-3 years are:

–          Making the Zepo platform even better and more flexible

–          Launch the app marketplace to allow app developers to offer their product to store owners

–          Launch the Theme marketplace to allow the designer community to serve the store owners

–          Solving the next big problem for store owners – helping them get business to their online stores

 

WD: Which locations is it available?

Nitin: We are available to all brands and entrepreneurs in India who wish to go online.

 WD: What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

Nitin: As a small startup, we completely depend upon our users for helping us spread the word. We do not have loads of VC cash to burn on ads & customer acquisitions. Our strategy is simple – build something remarkable that’s worth being talked about. And yes, our success also depends upon you – the bloggers community. 🙂

We have gained this traction till date & got our early adopters of around 200 paid users without any PR, any advertisement or any spend towards digital marketing. It has purely been via word-of-mouth – which testifies the beauty of product & reliability of service.

WD: Did you raise any funding?

Nitin: Yes, we are backed by by The Morpheus and One97 Mobility fund.

WD: If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

Nitin: Though we aren’t currently raising any funds, we are fine if any investor would want to catch-up with us

 

If you have any questions for Nitin, please post it on the comments section. You can also connect with Nitin on Linkedin.

Want to get interviewed by us ? write to us .

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Exclusive Interview: Aashish Ramchand: Co Founder :Makemyreturns.com

Startup: makemyreturns.com

Aashish Ramchand,  co-founder of makemyreturns.com, is a Chartered Accountant by profession. He has also completed the American CFA Level I and is currently a partner at J. Ramchand & Company Tax Advisers. He has previously worked with KPMG and Ernst and Young in the international taxation field.

WD: What is makemyreturns.com all about? What problem are you solving?

Aashish: Makemyreturns.com is the go-to place when it comes to taxes. In this complex world where we practically pay tax on everything we earn or purchase, we bring clarity and simplicity in taxes and help you save wherever possible. Filing taxes is just a year end process, it gives the IT department a snapshot of your earnings and taxes paid, but our work begins at the beginning of every financial year. We understand every single individual case and make recommendations on the various tax saving avenues available to the assessee. Our years of experience in the taxation field have been built into the proprietary algorithms that analyze your financial history and help you save from the word go. We help you plan your taxes, then save them and then finally file them at year-end. We stand by our service and ensure that every customer’s tax problem is our problem.

WD: Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced?

Aashish: In 2011, my brother and I were having a discussion about the state of affairs in India and how tax compliance is significantly low. We realized that the major roadblock for tax knowledge and compliance in India was the fact that people did not have access to expert tax professional and advisors. We also realized that we had the expertise and there was no better way to bring it to the world than via the Internet. So we founded makemyreturns.com and began the crucial process of understanding core issues faced by the average Indian tax payer and devised methods to solve these problems. The biggest challenge we have faced so far was the mental transition between an online tax advisory and compliance service and our current offline tax advisory practice – the online customer is unknown and we have to quickly understand his problems and come out with a solution.

WD: Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

Aashish: Our Founder is Vikram Ramchand, a computer science engineer from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta and an MBA from the London Business School. He has founded two successful startups and is now leading the innovation and technology at makemyreturns.com. Co-Founder, Aashish Ramchand, is a chartered accountant by profession with years of experience in International Taxation. He has previously worked with KPMG and Ernst and Young.  Aashish builds on the tax knowledge base for makemyreturns.com and trains our junior chartered accountants into giving the best possible customer experience. Co- Founder, VarunAdvani, is a budding Chartered Accountant and works with M.B. Advani and Company. Varun is the brain behind the complex tax algorithms devised at makemyreturns.com.

WD: Why is your site so different when there are already eCommerce websites selling similar products?

Aashish: The key difference between us and other similar websites is the fact that our technology is people and experience driven. We have built and hand picked every aspect of the technology using the years of experience and practical know how of taxes in India. We aim to cut right to the chase and steer clear of complexities and make taxes simple for everyone. We assure every customer that after using makemyreturns.com, tax worries will be a thing of the past. The experts are now here to help.

WD: What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

Aashish: Makemyreturns.com is built on the .Net Platform and is built by in-house programmers and developers.

WD: Which locations is it available ?

Aashish: Virtually, we are available everywhere due to the Internet. But our head office is located in Mumbai.

WD: Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

Aashish: Yes, we raised initial funding through certain venture capitalists. We will be raising another round of funds sometime early next year.

WD: What is the overall plan going forward?

Aashish: Help more and more people plan and save taxes regularly. Taxes don’t need to be taxing. We’re there for that.

If you have any questions for Aashish, please post it on the comments section. He is reachable at connect@makemyreturns.com. You can also connect with Aashish on Linkedin.

 

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Interview: Kavan Ravi Co-Founder of SlashCV- A Simple Tool To Create Your CV and Share Online

Startup: SlashCV – A Simple Tool To Create Your CV and Share Online
 
Kavan Ravi, Co-Founder SlashCV.  is a management information systems  (MIS) graduate from University of Nebraska,Omaha. Before he started working on SlashCV, he worked at Datamonitor LLC as an analyst and later co-founded a social hiring platform for companies and job seekers. He is now the founder and CEO of SlashCV.
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What is SlashCV all about/what are the key features? What problem are you solving? What is your Unique Selling Proposition ?
SlashCV is a very simple tool to create your resume and share it online. That is it, no big deal. While there are many other products that are built for the same purpose, none of them are as simple,intuitive or engaging. You have to try it and see.
 We have a good overview of all the features on our blog at http://blog.slashcv.com, here are a few of the key features:
1. An easy to use editor to create your resume:
 We have moved away from the form based view and have made it so that it feels like working on a word document minus the hassle of having to format it.
2. One click customization options:
 There is no drag and drop, no fancy animations. Just two simple ways to customise your resume- you can directly edit section headings in the form. For instance, if you want replace ‘Objective’ with ‘Summary’, all you need to do is simple click to select the section heading and edit. Same for other section headings too. The other option is to select ‘Put experience above education’ to emphasise experience in your CV. Anything here should not take more than just a click.
3. Auto-save, One click PDF and Feedback:
 All the changes you make to your resume are auto-saved every few seconds. There is also an option to manually save changes just by clicking a button. If do not want to interrupt your flow, auto-save is the best option. The save changes button comes in handy for smaller, fewer edits.
We have one PDF available for download. Once you are done creating your resume, simply click ‘View PDF’ to get a fully formatted resume. All you have to do is focus on the content, we take care of the rest. We also provide a shareable link to your CV that you can share with friends to collect feedback and improve your CV.
4. Easy sharing across all devices:
 You can create your profile and share it under a personal URL.It could be with your existing resume or the PDF you generated on SlashCV. Again this is minimal, quick to load and easy to share. It is optimised to work on all devices-mobile,tablet or PC.
While a lot of the other resume creator tools can be dense, boring and at times downright dull, SlashCV is lighter, fun to use and gets the job done. Having said so, we are still in the very early stages, so do expect more improvements in the future and better support for more features.
Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced?
SlashCV started as a small project in Hyderabad, India. The initial idea was focussed on profiles and had less to do with creating the resume itself. Our current version came about after a couple of iterations with feedback from our users. This includes minor changes as well as our current set of features. The bigger challenge though is to reach out to a growing number of students and job seekers and convince them to use SlashCV.
Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?
Kavan Ravi:
Kavan is a management information systems  (MIS) graduate from University of Nebraska,Omaha.  Before he started SlashCV, he worked for a short while at Pharmarc analytics Pvt.Ltd and later at Datamonitor LLC as an analyst. After which he co-founded a social hiring platform for companies and jobseekers. Right now he works on SlashCV as the founder and CEO.
Arpan Chinta:
 Arpan is a UX designer & web developer specializing in cross-device UI design, specifically creating web sites & web apps that work well across various devices, screen sizes & resolutions.
 He has spent 6+ years as a freelance designer working on a wide variety of software projects, ranging from ERP software and e-commerce solutions to mobile apps and comic stores.
Madhusudan Sambhoju:
Madhu is highly passionate about providing web and mobile technology solutions for small and medium scale businesses. He has got 5 years of working experience in software industry, of which 3 years were spent at Oracle India Pvt. Ltd and 2 more years at a startup in Singapore.
He has expertise in native app  development on Android and iOS platforms. He specializes in Ruby on Rails framework to deliver web based solutions.
How is your site so different when there are already similar products?
While there are many other similar products, SlashCV is not competing with LinkedIn or products like VisualCV. We are looking to bridge the gap in between, right before you feel the need to join a professional network and when you are just out of college looking for a job. We think SlashCV is tailor made to cater to this sub-set of users.
What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?
Ruby on Rails/ Heroku. Yes it is in-house.
What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?
We will be improving SlashCV on many fronts. Some of it has to do with many more templates for the resume, possibly paid templates. We are also looking to launch other features and services that will make it even more easier for you to create and send or share your resume online. A big part of our time will also be spent in promoting SlashCV and in addressing the needs of our users.
Which locations is it available ?
SlashCV is accessible worldwide on the web.
What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?
As a first step, we have started advertising on Facebook and Google. We are doing this in a small way so far. Right now, we are also focusing on getting the word across via social media and blogs.
Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?
We haven’t raised any funding. Yes, we would want to be contacted by investors.
What is the overall plan going forward?
The overall plan is to make SlashCV a one stop shop for students and job seekers who are creating their resume for the first time.
If you have any questions for Kavan, please post it on the comments section. He is reachable at kavan@slashcv.com.
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Exclusive Interview: David Urmann founder Touristlink.com a Social Travel Start Up

I met David Urmann at a recently concluded start-up meet in Delhi and found him and his entrepreneurial journey in India quite exciting. David is the founder of a very interesting Social Travel start up in India called Touristlink .

A Small brief about David Urmann

After finishing his PhD, he shifted course and moved to India in 2006 where he founded GoTripIndia. He started working on Touristlink in 2011. It’s an exciting project and a completely new direction for them. One of the reasons he choose to pursue the Touristlink idea is his love for traveling and the feeling that traditional travel sites don’t fill a lot of the important gaps an avid traveler needs.

David tell us about yourself and your Entrepreneurial journey so far ? When and how did you land in India ?

I first landed in India in 2006. At the time I was in graduate school and had 3 employees in the United States. I thought if I shifted to India I could hire a larger staff at the same cost and grow the operations faster. We spent the first year outsourcing for clients I had back in the US before we shifted to developing our own portfolio of mini-travel websites along with some larger projects such as Travelaffiliatepro.com and Hotelkhoj,com. All these projects were SEO driven and they did quite well up until the Google Panda update in 2011 after which we decided to shift our strategy to Touristlink and focus on adding value for our users.

What is Touristlink.com all about? What problem are you solving? What are some of the salient features ?

 I first came up with the idea about 2 years ago when I went on a trek to Everest base camp. I only had a few days for planning and I arrived in Nepal without having any arrangements for porters or a guide. I wish that I could have reviewed at least some of the available guides on the internet see what others had to say about them and gotten a sense of their personality before arriving in Nepal.

We built Touristlink to bring travelers together with local travel providers.  Travelers benefit in that they can find services they would not normally find online such as; local guides, equipment rentals, boutique hotels and travel agencies.  Businesses benefit in that they can develop stronger relationships with existing customers and find new customers.

Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced in India so far?

I have had a very positive experience working in India over the last 6 years. Of course one finds some unique challenges with the infrastructure but from a business perspective it’s a great place and full of opportunity. We started selling deals on Touristlink last June and India not only has the largest group sizes it also has the lowest cost when it comes to customer acquisition. The startup scene has evolved and progressed tremendously during the past few years to the point where you don’t need to go to Silicon Valley to get funding or even find great advisers.

Who are the Founders and their backgrounds?

I have been working with my co-founder Jayesh Bagde for the last 6 years. He has a background in marketing and manages most of the day-to-day operations as well as the sales team. Deepak Gupta, our CTO, has been working with for almost as long. He worked previous for a big tech company in Pune before coming back to Nagpur to run our technical operations.

How is Touristlink.com  so different when there are already websites selling travel products and services?

 Touristlink is similar in some ways to other marketplaces that already exist but several factors differentiate us. First, we are a full-fledged social network. This means that travelers can add their own pictures, make customized lists of places they want to visit, create their own tour guides and more. Second, we are destination oriented so travelers can simply search for a destination and then see who is around to help.  Third, our service is completely free service for members and businesses. Finally, it takes a certain amount of traffic to make a marketplace work. Our founding team has a strong background in SEO and the ability to bring this traffic.

  What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

Our platform is built in PHP. The social application and CMS were all built in-house. I don’t think a site like this can ever be considered built it’s a continuous work in progress as we try to listen to feedback from our members and improve.

What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?

We need to perfect the options we already have and make them in some cases easier to use. Beyond that we would like to have a simple trip board so you can share where you are going and see who else will be at the same place. We can do a better job understanding the travel needs of each of our members and then contextually displaying deals from locals. Finally, we would like a more mobile friendly version of our site.

Which locations is it available ?

We are pretty globally with members from almost every country. We have a small team of 3 people in Santiago, Chile as part of StartupChile and have developed versions of the site in Portuguese and Spanish.

What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

We drive traffic to our website via 3 avenues. First, via ppc campaigns directly to deals offered by local companies we have partnerships with. Second,via content marketing and third, via social tools that enable members to share travel content and experiences.

Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

We raised $40,000 in equity free funding from StartupChile. We are interested in contacting investors and raising additional capital.

What is the overall plan going forward?

We are working with a number of local hotels and transfer companies in India and reselling packages. We had $34,000 in revenue in October 2012. We will look to increase the number of local companies we are working with and rapidly increase our revenue and hopefully hit break-even by sometime early next year. We want to make the site even more user friendly and help people find the best trips and local connections. If anyone has any feedback or questions I would be happy to answer them personally.

If you liked this interview and have comments for us orDavid put it in the comments section below.

David Urmann – Founder of Touristlink,
davidurmann@touristlink.com
www.linkedin.com/in/davidurmann

 

 

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Exclusive Interview with Gaurav S Issar of JewelsNext.com

 

 

 

WirelessDuniya caught up with Gaurav S Issar, Founder & CEO of India’s no 1 online Jewellery market place on its future plans.

Gaurav Issar is the force behind  JewelsNext.com. He is a First Generation Entrepreneur and has been aggressively building businesses since last 14 years with his experience as a Gemologist, Retailer, Manufacturer domains in the gems and jewellery industry. Gaurav founded IDT (Institute of Diamond Trade India) which is India’s first and largest network of Gem certification laboratories with a pan India network. IDT certifies jewellery for over 1400 jewellery stores and brands across India in 10 states and employs over 50 people. Gaurav knows the Jewellery Industry from core to the Crust.

Gaurav is a Management Graduate and has done certificate course in diamond grading and identification of gemstones. He is also Managing Partner at Onlygems Ecommerce LLP. Onlygems is a company owns the first retail brand for gemstones in India.
Connect with Gaurav on Linkedin

 


What is JewelsNext.com all about? What problem are you solving?

 
JewelsNext.com is India’s no.1 online jewellery market place concept to sell and buy jewellery online. A one stop junction for various sellers and brands to present and market themselves digitally. Jewelsnext.com takes complete ownership of the Ecommerce ecosystems including its supply chain, call centres and Digital marketing operations.  We are focused on bridging the online-offline gap for the customers.

Tell us the story of how it started and the challenges you have faced so far ?

Jewellery is a high capital investment and a showroom or a warehouse (in ecommerce terms) venture. I always wanted to get into jewellery but without sitting on the showroom. I was aiming at a macro approach towards the industry so the idea of a marketplace model was something I had been eyeing on for the past 3 years. I started IDT in 2002 for certification of diamonds, gems & jewellery. Today, it is India’s largest network of Gem Certification laboratories with presence in 14 states and expanding. Recently we started operations in Dubai (UAE). The success of IDT helped me in taking the challenge of getting into the jewellery e-commerce sector.

Initially we faced challenges, but later things became smooth. Jewellery in India is a $16 billion unorganized sector and jewelers work with a conventional approach. So, e-commerce in jewellery was not welcomed. It took us time to make the jewellery fraternity understand that a marketplace model is the need of the hour. We explained them that given variety, discounted price along with IDT and BIS certification there would be a great demand. For a pathbreaking concept like JewelsNext.com we had to solve a pain (customers having access to pan India jewelers) and give a gain (jewelers selling across India).

Now, a customer sitting in Delhi or across India has an opportunity to buy the incredible Indian jewellery and get it delivered to and from 2000 pin codes across India. Jaipur is famous for gemstones, Hyderabad for pearls, Delhi and Mumbai for diamonds, Chennai, Cochin and Bengaluru for plain gold jewellery, Jammu for blue sapphires. Similarly, every Indian city has some or the other specialty. So, keeping in mind the above, marketplace was what I was always eyeing.

Everything from business development (bringing vendors on board) to logistics, operations, support teams, photography, technology, alliances, recruitment, accounting etc. has been tough initially but has been settling on in the past one year.

How is your site so different when there are already ecommerce websites selling similar products?

As already said, JewelsNext.com is India’s no.1 online jewellery market place to sell and buy jewellery online. We have managed to bring 50 retailers and Brands on JewelsNext and thousands of satisfied customers– and still counting! With over 100,000 jewellery products, 11 different categories, with thousands of registered users, it is one of the leading e-commerce Marketplace verticals in the country.

What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

Yes, ours is an in-house technology platform. It took us two years to develop an in-house platform to enable e-commerce of jewellery.

What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?

2,500 jewellery shops and 5, 00,000 jewellery products on one platform i.e. making JewelsNext.com the biggest repository of Gems & Jewellery across the world. Indian ecommerce jewellery industry is at its flourishing stage. Indians are young—almost half of them are between 25-35 and growing richer. We are mostly targeting them.

Which locations is it available?

To build a major retail channel for 5000 Retailers and 500 brands across India, JewelsNext.com, India’s #1 Online marketplace for jewelry has launched vendor sales and support channels in the following cities Chandigarh, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Calcutta, Bhopal, Jaipur and counting. The company aims at bringing a revolution in the Jewellery retail sector across India.

What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

We are working on building the New Media distribution channel for Retailers who are looking at gaining a pan India Presence and sales opportunities.

Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

No, we have not raised money. We have been contacted by couple of venture capitalists and are looking forward to raise funds.

What is the overall plan going forward?

JewelsNext aims at listing Billion dollar Inventory in next 18 months.  Jewellery e- commerce is trying to capture 25% of overall  16 billion dollar Jewellery retail business in 7 years. The company is working on empowering the women buyers across the nation to buy products on Internet.

The ‘Virtual Jewellery Experience Lounge’ is an endeavor to encourage browsing among the conservative Indian customers (Family Jeweler Concept) by making the online experience more personalized. Customers can try almost 1,00,000 designs in various categories like Diamond, Gold, Silver, Artificial etc. by just clicking and uploading their photograph on JewelsNext website & can choose the best suited for them by seeing the jewellery on themselves through the Virtual Lounge. They can also evaluate the quality of the jewellery through detailed information provided about each piece of jewellery along with the certification. Customers from all across the world would have an access to the JewelsNext.com’s virtual lounge.

This is a pioneering effort in this field and will further help to bridge the online-offline gap in the jewellery e-commerce space.

If you liked this interview please share it on social networks. Put your comments below for Gaurav to respond to.

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Exclusive Interview with Vivek Pahwa of PriceBag.com

 

WirelessDuniya caught up with Vivek Pahwa, Founder & Director, Accentium Web Pvt Ltd on their new venture PriceBag.com, its a comparison shopping site.

A brief about Vivek:
Vivek Pahwa founded Accentium which runs a network of content sites, most notable ones include StudyNation.com and Sitagita.com. Accentium also runs a niche matrimonial site, SecondShaadi.com, for second marriages. Mr. Vivek Pahwa also founded Gaadi.com which was sold to MIH India in 2011 (and at that time was the second largest auto portal in India in terms of revenue), and DesiMartini.com which was sold to HT Media in 2007. StudyNation.com is currently India’s largest education related site in terms of traffic.Vivek Pahwa also won the Businessweek Online Asia’s best young entrepreneur award in 2008.

What is iShopper all about? What problem are you solving?

PriceBag.com is a comparison shopping site with a twist. While most comparison shopping sites would focus only on the price aspect of things, we focus on discoverability, decision making and pricing. For example, in the case of home products, we are helping the user discover all the products available out there for sale, by providing intuitive search with smart filters – i.e. the user can search by brand, price, color, material etc across various sites – this is not available anywhere else – this is the discoverability part. For decision making, for example in our mobile prices section – we let the user compare various phones, read reviews written by us and others, look at pictures for the phone, apart from the price comparison as well.

 

In our mobiles section, a user can also search for example, samsung mobile prices in india – and then filter by android samsung phones prices, then touchscreen android samsung phone prices – all in one place. This gives the user a one stop place to not only select a phone, but also find the best price. This is what sets iShopper.com apart – and in the coming months, we expect this to translate into more visitors. We also have a coupon section – where the latest and best coupons provided by online stores are available for users to see and use. So you see, we are trying to be a holistic player.

What are the challenges you have faced ?

Challenges include getting feeds from e-commerce sites – many still don’t provide feeds – meaning we have to crawl them for prices. I think in the future this will change, but for now this adds to the work. Also, mapping products that we have with the right product on each site is a big task as well.  Keeping our database updated and current is also a challenge.

What technology platform is your site built on? Is it in-house?

All the development has been done in-house. The site is built on LAMP, i.e. it has been coded on PHP, uses a MySQL database and runs on a linux server. In addition, advanced scraping technologies have been written to fetch up to date prices on various products from different websites.

What initiatives are you planning in the next 2-3 years?

The idea is to expand into more categories available for online shopping in India. This would include the big categories such as apparel, but also smaller categories such as eye-wear. The idea is to be the starting point for the search for online shopping in India. Also, we would like to expand our prices to more stores, including more niche and long tail stores. We would also like to include offline prices at some point, however the main aim is to provide all online available prices. The other aim to add more depth to existing categories – we want to add tools and content to enable users to not only find the best prices but also select a product from various choices – hence we want to have in-depth reviews, comparisons, suggestion tools, latest trends etc. We also plan to start a discussion forum / Q&A  section and a buy-sell platform where users can trade products across categories.

Which locations is it available ?

It is available online. It is meant for the Indian audience.

What is your Marketing/Promotional approach?

We do a little bit of online banner advertising but that’s more for branding. We believe in the power of Google search in the long term. We make sure our site is craw able and well optimized to receive the maximum traffic from organic search. Beyond this, we try to have the best content online for our verticals – this helps with word of mouth marketing as well. Social media is another very important channel where we try to engage our users.

Did you raise any funding? If you want to raise funds do you want to be contacted by Investors ?

Not yet. We want to gain significant traction, and then decide whether to raise money. We are always happy to talk to investors.

What is the overall plan going forward?

Within Accentium, we run a network of sites, including a movie and entertainment sites, MoviePlus.com, a free online classified ads site, Wohho.com, a women content site, SitaGita.com and a multi-vertical site, Taaza.com – The aim is to grow these vertical sites to their biggest potentials and be one of the leading online media publishers in the country.

If you have any comments/questions/feedbacks for Vivek please put it on the comments box below .

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Exclusive Interview with Peter Bolesza of NNG

WirelessDuniya caught up with Peter Bolesza, Vice President, EEU & Emerging Markets at NNG Ltd on NNG and ANS’ future plans and future of Location & Navigaton in India . He heads  NNG’s operations in India.

WD :  Tell us about NNG’s plans in India?  Team size? A bit about the global operations, successful products ? Major customers? Focus area B2b or B2C ?

Peter : NNG decided on opening a local office in India to be able to provide high level pre-sales and after-sales support, therefore meeting the local expectations. We are soon going to be present in all segments (Automotive aftermarket & line fit, PND, tablet, Android mobile, iPhone) on the market, with a special focus on Auto OEM partners. We are going to employ enough people directly to provide the local support for our partners (mainly technical colleagues). The market demand will tell us the number. However a lot of other people will deal with our products indirectly, through our partners (their number is expected to be over 200 shortly).

Generally speaking we are a white label software developer company, parallel to that the biggest content aggregator on the world. Our software is content provider and hardware platform independent, and the same engine is used for all platforms, ensuring maximum flexibility. We cover 106 countries with map data around the world. So far, NNG has shipped more than 20 million licenses and we have signed contracts and orders for another 15-20 million units for the upcoming years in the automotive industry alone.

Regarding our main customers, we work with almost all major global car manufacturers and infotainment brands, in all the countries we are present we have a very strong co-operation with the biggest local partner(s) as well. This means we focus on B2B sales mostly. In India, our strategic partner is ANS who cater the needs of PND, In-dash & Wireless segment.

WD : With players like Map My India already in the market, how do you see NNG  creating value in the Indian market?

Peter :  We have more significant international experience than most of our competitors and a solution that has been tested and used all around the world now which is clearly one of our biggest USPs. In our HQ in Hungary, more than 300 developers are working every day on continuously improving our software. We believe that the best strategy is to deal with only the things one is competent in – and we are probably one of the best in navigation software development. Besides, we provide an outstandingly strong after-sales support, mostly with the use of our online platform, Naviextras. Due to the strong co-operation with the main map/content providers, we integrate the newest contents and features quickly to our software solution and intend to keep up with the always changing local needs and user expectations.

WD : What products do you intend to launch in India?

Peter : We enable our partners to provide complete navigation solutions to the end-users and –again thanks to being content provider independent– basically any type of product can be created this way. As a result, we have solution for all segments of the navigation industry: Portable Navigation Devices (PND), tablets & smartphones (Android, iPhone), in-dash systems, and bike navigation also. Moreover, we offer a large variety of already available and soon to be introduced unique services as well.

WD :  Tell us more about the apps you intend to launch this month and how is it different from your competitors? Platforms you are targeting? Any dates for the launch ?

Peter:  With the soon coming iPhone application, we are targeting another new group of users in India. This app is designed and customized especially for ANS, including the latest available contents and features – we’ve also integrated online traffic and an in-app shop, other extras like India Local Guide and Historical Monuments will also be available. The app will be able to run on iPhone, iPad and iPod. The developments are already finished, we are only waiting for Apple’s approval for the launch now.

WD: Finally,  What  is ANS? What is the association with ANS?  

Peter: ANS’s owners have been present in the automotive industry in India for the last 15-20 years now and  have significant experience and successes as a result. ANS, being the newest member of this group is a new company yet, but has really ambitious plans for the future – both on the short and on the long run. Briefly saying, ANS is NNG’s strategic partner in India, we are targeting together new countries and regions outside India as well in the near future. What connects us with ANS mostly is the fact that we are both driven by the desire of providing a product of the highest quality to the end-users.

 

If you have comments & questions please put it on the comments section below. If you are interested in getting Interviews done write to us.

 

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Exclusive Interview with Kavin Bharti Mittal

Bharti Softbank (BSB), a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Japanese Internet firm Softbank Corp, has launched Hike, a peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging app that uses both data and SMS to deliver messages.

Unlike the cross-platform mobile messaging app WhatsApp, hike lets you message those who don’t have it, so now you can message a non-hike user as well.In other words, users need not install the app on their phones to receive messages. Hike also claims to have in-built filters that block spam SMS.
WirelessDuniya spoke with BSB’s Kavin Bharti Mittal ,Head of Strategy/New Product Development in an exclusive interview on the launch of the hike messaging app .

 

WD: Why did you guys chose to launch a Messaging app, when there are lots of apps available already ?

Kavin: India is crazy about messaging. There are over 400M SMS users in the country that send on average close to a 100 messages a month.

We see two big problems with messaging.

  1. Too much spam. SMS has become a channel for tele-marketers to try to get their messages across. Messaging over SMS isn’t pleasant anymore.
  2. Secondly, the SMS replacements are closed networks which means one needs the app at both the sender and the receivers end to communicate. This defeats the whole idea behind SMS which is open and ubiquitous communication.

We asked ourselves, why isn’t there an app that combines the real-time, free nature of an Instant Messaging app with the openness of SMS thats completely spam free? We couldn’t find a single app that did this hence we decided to go built it ourselves. We call it hike

WD : What are the key features of the hike app that sets it apart from the competition?

Kavin: I’d like to highlight the four key features that set it apart from the competition:

 1. It is Open
Messaging couldn’t be simpler than the hike experience. As long as you have hike, there is no need to worry whether your friends have hike or not. Send a message and hike handles the rest. If a friend isn’t on hike, we send the message over SMS to which your friend can reply to at normal SMS rates. The message comes straight back to the hike application making the conversation a lot more seamless. For both you and your friend messaging remains as its always been, though a whole new experience.

 2. It is Spam-free
hike has smart filters built in that block the spam you might see on SMS. These smart filters not only block spam but learn over time to be more efficient and predict in advance who spam users might be.
But just in case one or two slip out we give users the full set of tools to take control. Blocking spam users is just a tap away.

 3. Its absolutely Free
On top of all that, messaging on hike is completely free. You can message your friends and family for free especially those who aren’t on hike. hike to hike is always free but our users receive 100 free hike SMS every month to message those who aren’t on hike.

Think 100 is too little? No problem. The more friends our users invite the more free hike SMS they’ll get. Each user earns an additional 10 free hike SMS per month for each friend that joins hike because of him.

 4. Its Beautiful and Simple with a great intuitive user experience
We keep challenging ourselves to build a great intuitive user experience and simplicity is at the center of it. Its very complex to build something very simple. Most people believe adding features is what makes a product better. We believe in the exact opposite. That to us is a great user experience.

We also spend a ton of time making our apps pixel perfect. As a result, hike has turned out to be a stunning app, absolutely gorgeous and that isn’t only on the higher end devices.

You’ll have to look hard to find an app thats simpler to use and that looks this good.

WD: On what mobile platforms is the “hike” app currently available ?

Kavin: We have currently launched the Hike app on the Android platforms. You can download the app on your Android device by clicking on this download link: bit.ly/Nm6YZv .
Hike will also be available soon on , iOs, WP7, Blackberry, Nokia S60 & Others.

You can check our Facebook  page  Facebook.com/hikeapp  and also follow us on Twitter @hikeapp

Our website: http://get.hike.in

 

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