Archive for the 'Web2.0' Category

Let the conversations begin…@coupl.in

A friend of mine from ISB, Vivek Krishna told me about this time last year that he was mulling on a startup. Our discussion veered towards his passion and it turned out to be about “passions” :). He was looking at making a platform for people to find soul mates based on their interests. And launch, he did. The site is up and running and is called coupl.in.

You might ask, what is new, there are so many matrimonial and dating sites around. Right? Wrong.

Most matrimonial website profiles are maintained and updated by parents in India and do not really give you a chance to meet the person unless it gets to a certain level and dating sites in India have not had too much success so far. At coupl.in, of course, the individual registers and it goes beyond the basics of “what you are” to “who you are” and gives you very interesting vectors to define yourself. For example, some of the things that people use is “aspirations” – “like become a millionaire” or “write blog more often” – I kinda like it, because at a large level aspirations define a person as much as what they are today or what their qualifications are, in fact, even more!

Vivek has a simple philosophy where he doesn’t charge users for login or registration etc. He lets people find and meet other interesting people and if you find a match, you pay. Many of his users are not really teenage kids looking to have fun, they are mature adults, who are lost in the stream of work and don’t have time to go out and explore the dating scene (and even if you do, seriously, what are the odds!). So, if you are single and ready to mingle or your parents are getting ready to post you on the matrimonial boards, I would suggest take coupl.in for a spin. You never know what you might find!

New Media – Old Media

Some may balk at the expression “old media” but the implication of using the term “new” media is obvious, right? Anyhow, coming to the point of the post. I was listening to RJ Anjaan on 94.3 RadioOne in Bangalore FM and I noticed him do something very interesting, he called out to the listeners to look him up on Facebook, add him as a friend, write on his wall, tweet to him and that he will shout out their names on his show. This was interesting because he is using social networks as a “pull in”.

1. While RadioOne gets an alternate channel to pull in viewers, you would’ve noticed that the FM channels at least have stopped giving out their PO box numbers, they are still sticking to mobile and email IDs but I think soon that will be passe – Anjaan has started a trend with Facebook and twitter messages.

2. Previously, all “pull in” streams did not exist without the media itself. So if you take PO box numbers, email IDs, contact numbers – all of them are very “corporatish”, controlled, inbound and private channels. Facebook and Twitter go beyond that – they are open, mass viewable and public. Everything that the radio represents at some level!

3. The nature of Facebook and twitter (although there are corporates there for sure) encourages personal interactions with employees, there is a ‘realism” effect at play in there. So, what Anjaan is doing with his own personal profile in Facebook and Twitter is actually creating an open personal network for him in his professional role or in short, creating a brand of himself. Again, a trend?

What do you think? Is new media – old media partnership interesting?

Aryan’s Mom

I rediscovered a very old and good friend of mine along with her creative spark recently!Introducing to all of you my friend who blogs at – http://www.aryan-mylife.blogspot.com/.

I was amazed at the fact that she decided to take up blogging as a hobby, the fact that she could write well was a given. When I started reading, I could not stop at one. She is chronicling her journey with her son since the day he was born from his perspective. What started as a simple pass time has, in my mind, morphed into a very deep and humourous way of a parent’s discovery of a child’s world.

Kudos to her for the great job she is doing….keep up the good work and a must read for the rest of you.

Farmville goes to school

I was sitting at a bench near a principal’s office in a school. 4 young boys about 10 years of age were sitting next to me, preparing for their exams.

One turns to the other and asks, “what happened to your plants?”, the other retorts, “5 or 6 of them withered and the rest I harvested” and I’m left dumb struck that the children of this age could be so “into” plants and stuff! Another boy joins the group and continues the conversation, “I’d a golden box ask for some code to enter, what should I do?”, one of the previous guys go, “go to farmville.com, sign in and say connect to Facebook, simple” and I sigh!!!

For these kids, this is not “alternate reality” or “online stuff”, it is their mainstay, it is their reality, it’s what they talk about everyday and do everyday for hours.

I ventured into a discussion with them, I asked them what they do on Facebook, so they go, “chat”, “post messages”, “play games” etc. (the usual stuff), then I asked them if they use the Facebook groups a lot, “it exists, but we don’t use it much”. I asked them if their teachers are on Facebook, “some of them are, but we don’t friend them, that is dangerous!” and the discussion turned to me, “are you on Facebook?” so I said, “I’m into a lot of social networking, blogging and tweeting etc.”, they said, “really?” (all smiles!) and we were all friends instantly.

I think its time for teachers in India to start using these forums to engage the students instead of just keeping at the traditional books, copy, assignments, tests and projects mode. As I go through more of the teacher training sessions I’ll discuss about these concepts more and see how we can incorporate these into our education system.

LinkedIn Invite Rules

I get LinkedIn invites from several people who might be making contact with me for the first time, who send an invite without a word on why we should connect! Not that they must have an earth shattering or life changing reason for it, but a word on how we hold common ground will help me connect with them better. Now, it is up to me to go look at their profile and figure out if they are interesting for me to connect with. Mostly, they are and I accept the invite but it would be great if the person who initiated the contact did the talking.

The reason why I bring this up is because if we were to meet a person for the first time, I’m sure we would not just say a hello and then start calling them an acquaintance, will we? We will introduce ourselves, we will get to know them a little, find common ground and once that is set, we establish the connection. In LinkedIn, since the bio is already there, groups are listed on the profile, blog, twitter you name it – stuff about the person is already there, we feel that the rules of introductions don’t apply! More so than ever, it applies in the digital world, because I don’t have anything but your invite to go by to make a decision to connect with you. That little box that LinkedIn so kindly offers to you to personalize your message is there to help you establish a connection over and above the “vanilla” I’d like to connect message!

Apart from the rules and etiquette point of view, if you stated clearly why you want to connect in that message or as a follow-up message after the invite has been accepted, it helps a lot. I’ve had instances where people have sent in very specific requests to me and we have established a very good rapport over time. It also helps to state the interest so I can mentally make a note and access/help you if something in your sphere of interest passes by me. I’ve noticed that very few people in India will send you a personal note whereas it is common practice if I get it from outside India. I’ve also noticed that very few people in India respond to a personal note in LinkedIn (they accept the invite but ignore the note mostly!).

So, long story short, do mention a line or two about the common ground or why we should connect up, I really appreciate the thought!

I’ve attempted to write this post several times and always shelved it in better judgement. In hindsight, I should have published it long ago! I’m looking forward to connecting with many more of you and knowing you better.

New Categories Seeking Mindspace

What happens when a company from a category does mass advertising (TV, Print, Radio) for the first time (especially on prime time)? It creates space for the category in the consumers minds. We are seeing two such categories going mainstream currently in India and its a big deal for business segments which are so far dominated by brick and mortar business (software services being the exception and they have hardly gone mainstream!).

1. Education Technology – Educomp with their mainstream media (read TV) ads in the past few weeks have suddenly created a category recognition for everybody in the education technology space. Now, every time I talk about education technology people smile back at me knowingly, some ask – “like educomp?” This move by educomp has a potential to create a “generic” brand identification with education technology in India for them and I guess that is what they intend to achieve. However, at the same time it has helped create a business segment for all the other players to identify with in the market.

2. Ibibo – social gaming has come of age with ibibo doing a major splash on TV, Radio and Newspapers inviting one and all to play with each other. Not only are they roping celebrities to invite people, they are also running “on-the-edge” titillating ads on prime time.

So, what do you think? Sign of interesting things to come?

Ariem Technologies – My Journey So Far and Job Openings

People have been asking me how my new job has been, so far? It is about time too. It’s been more than 2 months since I joined Ariem Technologies (thanks to Sateesh Andra, who introduced me to Ariem).

Before I go on and talk about what I do, let me take a moment to talk about what Ariem does.

We believe in simplifying access to information for the masses. Our first product is for the education segment and specifically, targeted at the teachers to help them reach the internet and create audio/visual content in a very simple way and deliver it in the classroom using our gadget. This truly helps bridge the digital divide between the teachers and the students. The simple appreciation, I’ve seen over the past few weeks in the eyes of the students for their teachers when they show them audio/visual content created by themselves, is testimony to the power it delivers to the teachers. And as far as the teachers are concerned, it is so simple to use and intuitive that they don’t feel that they are using something very complex.

Ok, now back to what I’ve been up to. We are trying to enter the school segment with a solution that on one end can be termed as affordable technology and on the other, is simple and extremely effective in delivering what a teacher would want to do in 90% cases – that is use audio/visual content to enhance the learning process in a classroom. We are developing several channels to convey our message and we’ve been approaching the schools directly, attending expos and conferences, maintaining a digital presence to spread the word. I’ve worked on creating the marketing collateral and the digital presence (the website is still work in progress, so if anyone wants to talk to us about it, I’m all ears!!!) and directly approaching the schools with our solution. Will keep posting more…as we go along.

In the meanwhile, we are looking to hire people – telemarketing, sales executives and trainers.

So, if you are a fresher or have some BPO/KPO/Admin role experience and want to work for an exciting startup, please do write to me for the telemarketing role.

For the sales role, we are looking for candidates who are passionate about making their career in the education industry and have had any kind of previous sales experience (FMCG, Insurance etc..). Again, if working for a startup excites you, do write to me.

For the training role, we are looking for current/ex-teachers who are passionate about training as a career. 

These roles will be based out of Bangalore, India. You can reach me here or send an email at jobs@ariemtech.com. Looking forward to hearing from interested folks.

Why Indian VCs should blog actively?

As I was planning to attend the Tie-ISB Connect this year, I decided to look up the various panelists online to understand who I would be meeting. I found most of them on LinkedIn, great! But, I found that most of them did not blog. I think it is a loss to the Indian startup community and probably, to the VC community too! Here’s why I think so…

1. VC-thinking process – way before an entrepreneur starts to create pitch-decks, they are looking at who to pitch, how to pitch, what is the right etiquette and more often than not, who is interested in the same domain as where they are starting up. Basically, they are looking for the “inside scoop” on what VCs think is a good pitch and what kind of team composition is apporpriate and so on…The VC websites only show up the “finished goods” – someone here got $$$ and someone there got more $$$ as funding. How, what, where and more importantly, why not – are good insights can more easily be shared on personal blogs (to whatever extent possible!)

2. Know-thy-VC – This is an oft-repeated theme at most startup meets and what better medium than the blog to get to know someone before you commit to take the funding? I’m assuming not everyone has a direct face to face access to the VCs while mulling their startup venture. (Also, reading a blog is not a substitute to reaching out, networking and knowing someone in person, it is just a first step) Over time, you can get to know what they are thinking, why and how they make their decisions. This will be a wealth of information for the startups at one end, and on the other might act as a self-filtration mechanism based on who has or not done their homework during the process of reaching up to the VC!

3. Moving beyond the one-session intervention – A blog will extend the touch points of the VC for the wannabe entrepreneur community from the  “one-session” panel discussion or the hosted networking event to a stream of thoughts, active conversations via comments and rating systems. This will encourage more people to startup as it will begin a process of demystifying startup and investment process.

So, this post is a special shout out to the Indian VCs who already blog – Thank You, and to those who don’t, to start a “blog habit” and enrich us with their thoughts and insights.

Job Postings and Inadequacy

Most job postings I come across look too good to be true. The requirements make the ideal person seem like a the job requires you to be a “versatile demi-god” with excellent communication, good team player, leader, many years of domain expertise, no travel compunctions, no work hour issues (read as work 24×7) and the list doesn’t end here…

This is the easy way to go about the process, put all the tangible and intangible best case requirements for the role in a piece of paper and hope to get a good fit on as many dimensions as possible. But, is there a better way to recruit without intimidating the worthy? I’ve seen some companies going to the other extreme, put out the company details and the basic minimum requirements and then trust the weeding process to bring out the best fit. Both these cases, when the job posting seems too good to be true and when the base case requirements are put out, the company can get inundated with tons of resumes and the weeding process cannot be efficient, to say the least.

 So, is there a more effective way? I was wondering if inbound marketing has a good answer to this. I’m referring to the process, where the company can use digital medium to communicate its stratgey, role requirements, a couple of interviews with people on the job (something real and tangible for the applicants). This will not only weed out the “not-so-fit” resumes, it will encourage the “best fits” to apply, n confident in the knowledge that there is a chance. It does force the company to do more work than usual for a job posting, but, seriously I don’t want to just see the postings that say- how great the company is and how great everybody is but rather how real the opportunity is and how excited (or not?) someone should be about it.

How about reaching out to potential recruits based on their activities in and around social media? How about creating the competitions where they can showcase what they can do? Some companies do it, most don’t. What do you think? Effective recruitment techniques, anyone? How do you get your job requirements across without overdoing it or underplaying it? Has anyone have success stories of recruiting via social media?

Twitter n Me

I started using twitter a few days ago and one of the major things that has kept me on it (aside from the real-time effect) is the fact that there are certain thoughts you don’t want to expand into a complete blog article. They neatly fits into 140 characters and convey the point succinctly enough which, in turn then, lets me move on….instead of haunting me with expansion possibilities and an attempt to stuff them with words in order to grow them into full blow blog articles.

As many have felt before, I too feel a strong urge to just tweet interesting thoughts that pop up in my head (as and when they do), instead of thinking about whether it is a “blog worthy” thought and whether I should work on expanding it further or just leave it in the twitter jungle (along with all the other hashtags for my followers to figure out whether it is important enough or not). But, I’m resisting it better than I expected. I want to spend time expanding interesting ideas. Only that, now I have decided not to backlog non-expansible ideas/thoughts/comments/opinions etc. but to publish it on my twitter account. How do I decide which ones are in which category? Ah! that is a topic for another blog. So wait and watch…this space. Yeah, of course, before I forget you can follow me on twitter @sreejaiyer.


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