Posts filed under mobile – convergence calling?

Written by: Abhinav

On Mar 30th, 2008

We spoke to Yusuf Motiwala from recently. The conversation covered various aspects including the technology involved, the revenue model, funding and staffing.

iLeher: How did TringMe come about?
Yusuf: We were looking to build a Voice 2.0 platform. This was the TringSwitch that we were planning to push to enterprises so that they could support all types of voice terminations – SIP, Mobiles, VoIP, IM (Jabber), etc. When we built this, we came up with TringMe as a way to demonstrate this platform that we had built and thats how TringMe came about. Then we got covered by TechCrunch and the site took off

iLeher: So how many users do you have now?
Yusuf: 60,000+ plus.

iLeher: Cool!
Yusuf: Yes, we are already generating revenues as well. A lot of these users pay to use the site.

iLeher: That brings us to our next question. Whats the revenue model that you are envisioning? Mostly the Skype-like Call In/Out kind of model?
Yusuf: Not at all. Like I already mentioned, we built a platform that we could sell to enterprises. That remains a revenue model we are going after.

iLeher: So you basically install the boxes in enterprise networks?
Yusuf: Not necessarily. We are also looking at Hosted Services where the enterprise need not spend extra on installing the box. We can take care of the back-end for them. In addition to this, we are looking at licensing our technology to different websites where a real-time interaction between different parties makes sense.

iLeher: Such as?
Yusuf: Dating, travel, reservations (for hotels, travel, etc). There are lots of areas one can think of.

iLeher: Alright. Any other revenue model?
Yusuf: Yes, we are also looking at partnering with developers who have ideas and are looking to build on top of this platform. We will provide them with SDKs which they can use to build their apps.

iLeher: So do you charge them for it?
Yusuf: Depends on the company. We could do a cash deal or take equity. Depends. We absolutely reserve the right to partner in these cases. We will evaluate the company and only then partner with them. Having said that, if we believe in the company, we will see how we can work with them.

iLeher: So what is next on the horizon as far as TringMe is concerned?
Yusuf: We have just announced a mobile solution for low cost handsets. You can check out the announcement on the blog. Our blog has a lot of information about our various offerings- what all we support, etc.

iLeher: Yes, coming to that. You support a lot of terminations. What is your team size and how long did you take?
Yusuf: We are about 9 people

iLeher: Thats all?
Yusuf: Yes, we started around May-June last year. I started the company and then slowly the team grew to its current size

iLeher: Thats a lot of work for this short a time and this small a team!
Yusuf: Well, we have a lot of experience in this field and we were able to apply it to get things working.

iLeher: How about money?
Yusuf: We are self-financed at the moment. Friends and family besides our own money.

iLeher: So are you planning to bootstrap your way to an IPO?
Yusuf: We will go in for a round of VC funding at some stage. We will let you know as and when that happens. 😉

iLeher: Thanks a lot for talking to us
Yusuf: My pleasure!

We spoke to a Yusuf about a few other things which are already covered on the TringMe blog. Please hop over after leaving your comments here.

We wish TringMe all the very best for the future.

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Ziva/Zook – mobile search

Written by: Vivek Garg

On Jun 18th, 2007

Have you been Zooking lately? Did you Zook that movie? If not then try it on your cell phone or you can give it a shot at . This mobile search based service is an offering from Ziva. Ziva has been in the press/blogs for several reasons since its inception. Read this buzz from our trusted sources

We spoke to Ajay Sethi, founder of Ziva, couple of months back and I have a detailed interview but a lot of similar coverage is already out here, and a very insightful podcast here. Let me know if you want the entire transcript and I will send it to you. I am really intrigued with the dual prong approach Ziva is taking.

1. Developing a pluggable search platform that they can sell to other companies that own content. Search game so far is about developing a better search engine. In house technology is one of the differentiating factors for most of the big search companies today. But Ziva is in a way disrupting this in India. Instead of taking a black box approach and in sourcing content as conventional search engines are doing, they have turned around and white boxed their engine. They are making it available for content owners like JustDial

Ziva’s platforms are being used by 15 well-known B2C companies in India. These are in the fields of yellow pages, mobile content, bollywood content, printed media content, m-coupons, etc. B2C companies are using Ziva’s platforms to make their own content accessible to their end-users.

2. Once you have a platform, you can start building search verticals. Local search/ travel search etc comes to mind when we talk about India. But why to get into already very crowded space and compete with big names. Instead they have come up with Zook. This is a very smart selection. Do only mobile based search. And that too for the content that is most relevant and directly generates revenue. Ringtones, graphics etc can directly lead to downloadable content and sales. Cricket news and other entertainment news are in high demand. Local search has a new angle too. SMS based social network to ask/collect and enhance QnA. We all know the SMS story in India and tapping into that market is very smart. 

We have consciously chosen to maintain almost exclusive focus on the mobile space because user requirements and usage patterns are different, user’s context and expectations are different, the types of queries and the desired answers are different. Moreover, mobile search is a nascent and rapidly growing field with huge potential – we want to maintain laser-sharp focus on the mobile search only. 

I couldn’t agree more here. But I think monetizing SMS social network based service is going to be tough. This has 1:N SMS approach where system sends N text messages for every message that asks a question, where N is the number of people in your social network. This will increase the infrastructure cost with increase in volumes. On monetization this is what I got from Ajay, 

Ziva has built an ad platform with dynamic category-based keyword bidding capabilities. The primary focus in this regard is towards enabling suitable actions for the vendors. For example, when people search for movies, Zook will not only provide the relevant information quickly but also support relevant actions such as: download music/ringtones, purchase m-ticket and get it delivered, rent corresponding DVD and get it delivered, etc. Zook plans to utilize pay-per-action (in addition to pay-per-click and pay-per-impression) as the possible monetization options.

Let’s look at the biggest picture of mobile search and how it all fits. Existing players want to move already profitable search experience we have today on the web to handheld devices. They will want to keep their back end systems same and want to innovate on the UX side. Minimum points of interaction as Ajay Sethi puts it. This is where Zook approach is far more interesting. In the game of mobile search the moat is no longer the back end system but it’s the user interaction and how quickly you can return the most affirmative result. You cannot throw 200 most relevant results to a mobile user to sort out what he wants.

There are lots of challenges in the mobile search. A very good summary at Mobile Search: Monster or MirageGomo News is a good information source for worldwide mobile offerings. Currently, growth looks very good for India. Bango recently published that India has one of the fastest growing mobile browsing user base. The top five countries accessing the mobile web via Bango in April 2007 were the UK at 27%, the US at 21%, South Africa at 11%, India at 9% and Indonesia at 3%. Data shows that 9% of all accesses to mobile websites now come from India, up from 4% a year ago. We will have to wait and see if Ziva’s approach is working and how they will adopt to new locality based searches etc. But as of now they are doing all the right things to be at the center of it in India.

While talking about location based mobile search – a colleague told me if he owned a pizza shop – he would call everyone in 1 mile radius @ lunch time and say “pizzzzzzzzzzzzzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” [imagine the most hungry voice possible] and hang up. Idea to ponder? 

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Written by: Abhinav

On Apr 10th, 2007

For those wishing to see more of the Silicon Valley breed of entrepreneurism in India, Motvik would sound like a good example. Motvik was co-founded by Naveen, Deepak, Ramu and Rajan in September 2006. All four of them were working with eMuzed when they decided to venture into the market by themselves and set up Motvik. We spoke to them about the inspiration behind Motvik, their first product – WWIGO, their future plans and the challenges they face as first-time entrepreneurs.

Update: We also asked them about how they deal with the competition and what their USP is. This was inadvertently missed out in the first post.
iLeher: What was the vision behind Motvik?

Motvik: The vision is twofold. To be a part of the compete product and innovation lifecycle and to build an Indian product company in the mobile media space that addresses the global market.
iLeher: Do you have venture capital (or other) funding? How do you run your operations?

Motvik: We are completely self-funded as of now. All of us have put in some of our money to set up this venture.
iLeher: Lets talk about your products. We believe you have a product ready to hit the market?

Motvik: Our first product is WWIGO – Webcam Wherever I GO. This is an application that turns the cameraphone into a webcam. Almost everyone who has a PC also has a cameraphone today and they shouldn’t need to buy a webcam additionally. Using Bluetooth, we can connect the cameraphone to the PC/laptop and stream the video from the cameraphone to the PC and then use this with any application on the PC that uses webcams. For example, you can use WWIGO with Yahoo! Messenger or Skype. Also, you can upload videos to Youtube!
iLeher: Sounds interesting? How do we try this out?

Motvik: We are in private Alpha at this point of time. We plan to launch this to the public in a few weeks.
iLeher: What all platforms do you support?

Motvik: Currently, we support Symbian (2nd edition) phones and MS-Windows PCs. However, we are planning on supporting various other platforms. The porting and support activities are already underway and will be available soon.
iLeher: How can we get our hands on your app? How does the distribution model work?

Motvik: Currently, users can download the application from the web directly. We are also looking at viral marketing using blogs and “word of mouth”, natural search marketing, etc.
iLeher: How about the revenues? How do you plan to make money?

Motvik: We haven’t yet chalked out the revenue model completely though currently we are exploring the “freemium” model having two distributions – premium and basic. The premium version will have some additional features as compared to the basic version and this will be available for a one-time fee. Also, the support for the premium version will be better.
iLeher: What kind of features?

Motvik: We can’t talk about these at the moment but we have some interesting features in the pipeline.

iLeher: Do you have other products in mind as well (besides WWIGO)?

Motvik: Yes, we are basically looking at exploring the whole gamut of multimedia applications on mobile handsets. That is our core strength since all of the co-founders come from a “Multimedia Apps on Mobiles” background and we plan to expand on this strength in the future.
iLeher: What are the challenges you face?

Motvik: Well, there are a number of challenges that we face on a daily basis. One of the challenges is to figure out a way of marketing Motvik on a global scale. There are a number of mobile phones besides Symbian handsets and one of the key things for us is to carry these various apps together. We need to expand our team in order to be able to do that but that’s not so easy since we are all a small startup and we have to compete with MNCs to attract talent. Finding good people is thus a huge challenge for us.

iLeher: How do you deal with the competition? Mobiola and ETI Flycam are similar products. What is your USP?
Motvik: We differentiate from them because of our focus on accessibility (wider reach), usability and wider reach

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iTasveer+Vista=Ease of access. (online photo site)+Reliance=disruptive?

Written by: Madhur

On Mar 1st, 2007

iTasveer is in news as they recently announced a deal with Microsoft. If you have Vista, you can order photos right from Windows explorer, without needing to visit any website at all. Pretty neat. They also announced Doodlepad, a new feature with which you can custom design your own tshirts/mugs and order them online. Good to see some innovation in this space. Clearly, these features make them stand apart from others in this crowded space. However, digital camera + decent Internet access + Windows Vista is not a combination that is prevalent at least today in India, so it will be a little while before they start reaping real benefits from this. (esp. with all the steps Microsoft is taking to prevent piracy in Vista).

Obviously (its hard to not imagine mobile while speculating the next disruptive innovation in the Indian context), the next question is – will we see someone striking a similar partnership with Airtel, Reliance or some other mobile network? So that people can just click with their high res mobile phone cameras (or click with their standalone camera and transfer to mobile) and order prints from mobile directly. We are starting to see such services coming on mobile. For e.g. recently Reliance announced a deal with, stating that you can search for job listings with login from your Reliance mobile phone. Interestingly, the news also mentions in the end that they are looking for “other such content providers”. I do understand that ordering prints type service is more difficult than information fetch (news, email, search) type of applications because of transaction processing and large data transfers involved, but it will surely happen some time. The question is when?

Thoughts? Am I too much ahead of times to think of it at this point? Maybe our friends from iTasveer, MeraSnap, Picsquare can shed some light here. Are they thinking of any mobile angle at all?

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If mobile is the future of Internet, which companies are ready for it?

Written by: Madhur

On Dec 14th, 2006

Much has been talked about the potential of mobile in India. You can read some details here, here and here. We have ~150 million mobile subscribers compared to ~40 million Internet subscribers. In the month of September itself, India added 6.2 million subscribers. The total number of subscribers is going to touch 200 million by 2010. The SMS traffic is going to touch 180 billion in 2010. India happens to be among the top 10 registrants of the .mobi domain. You get the point. Mobile is huge. So I compiled together a list of consumer Internet companies that are taking mobile seriously and have taken initiative on making their service available on mobile platform. Note that there are tons of other companies that provide value added services for mobiles, mobile software etc., here I am concentrating primarily on Internet companies that are leveraging mobile as an alternate medium of providing their service. I was actually amazed to find out that you can do so much even without having data connectivity – just by using simple SMS. My sense is that still none of these have really gained a lot of traction among the masses, but they are taking a step in the right direction and hopefully someone will figure out the magic formula of making the users addicted to their service on mobile.

Local information (probably one of the most handy services)
Onyomo provides search by SMS for local (yellow page type) information
Mapmyindia have their service available for Airtel customers

Travel Tickets (One of the hottest segments in the Indian markets)
FlightRaja has flight booking via SMS.
IndiGo has a mobile service for browsing and booking tickets.
Rediff is providing their FareSearch service for mobile

Social Networking
Yaari has a mobile service using which users can browse profiles on mobile and connect with each other by exchanging messages.

Online Real Estate has a service that allows users to send free SMS through the website to individual property sellers, buyers and agents for inquiries on properties listed on the site.

Jeevansaathi has matrimonial search via SMS.
Supposedly BharatMatrimony is going to launch a mobile service soon too.

Jobs has a mobile product called Insta Hire. Apparently, it enables recruitment over mobile phone and reduces the lead time in connecting a recruiter and the candidate. allows you to send your resume (stored beforehand on their servers) urgently to recruiters/employers.

The country’s all leading newspapers and channels already provide news alerts on mobile phones including Times, Hindu, etc.

GMail is available to mobile users via GPRS
MSN provides its Hotmail service via SMS to about 70% of the Indian mobile user base and plan to cover the remaining market soon.

Books search
Oxfordbookstore has SMS search for their inventory

Online Lotto
Online lottery company Playwin Infravest has launched the Mobile Lotto in Mumbai. Currently the service is available to the subscribers of Orange and BPL Mobile in Mumbai.

Paymate is a company that enables payment with single SMS. They initially plan on offering their payment service in collaboration with Rediff, Naukri, Cleartrip, Jeevansathi and 99Acres.

Online ticketing sites are now providing mobile ticketing via SMS as well as via special barcode on the mobile screen itself. A swipe of the mobile screen over a scanner is all that one needs to gain entry to the event. These type of services are powered by companies like Convergelabs and Moveo.

Let me know if you come across any interesting service being provided by Internet players for mobile users.

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