Small Businesses Ascending the Digital Path

# DigitalDesh spanned across 22 cities in 30 days to discover The Internet of Inside India.

Amritsar to Kanyakumari

An endeavor to study the behavioral patterns of entrepreneurs across different regions. To understand their digital business routines, their perceptions, the challenges and their desire to venture into new terrain. An important part of the activity was also to encourage & spread awareness to build a strong digital footprint online.

The journey of #DigitalDesh began from Amritsar and it was only apt that it got its initiation by meeting Jagdeep whose infectious energy highlighted the passion of a business savvy person. A lively man, who was excited to show his smartphone and share his social networking habits that he indulged in to do business with his customers.

Infact Whatsapp was largely used as a business tool because of its ease of use and the popularity by the word of mouth. The cool quotient too.

Local business owners found it easy to share pictures with their IMG_1512customers, samples of new designs by textile owners to or be it the owner in Amritsar who sells religious items to his customers in foreign. A shop keeper who sells cosmetics to the local college students used it to share the new goods/purses that were sold in his showroom.

The most interesting use I found of it was when the fisheries in Karwar used it to overcome language barriers and sharing the pics of fishes which is known by different names in different parts of India and across the world. Although the order was still placed on phone, the pictures were shared over whatsapp.

More savvy business owners have started using facebook pages but it was limited in numbers and even few that were looking to go the app route.

Yes many of the business owners are learning different ways of transactions, although not many of them are familiar with payment gateways, they do use online banking systems and learning to use payment wallets. Education on these will be helpful.

Email Ids – were largely used to place orders and when outlets/franchises are using to interact with their head-office. Although these are not professional ids, most of the time the personal id served both the professional and personal use. Website were still being designed by a trusted source and were given the impression that it takes a really long time to do so. Many were surprised to know about certain tools that would help them set it up in a matter of few minutes.

And yes smartphones do rule in tier 2 & tier 3 cities of India 🙂

One of the key things that I learnt as part of this drive is the need for education on the availability of tools.. lots more to be done in this area. Best part they are hungry to learn and the willingness to grow.

India has the potential to create great product companies. The ecosystem is evolving and we are glad to be part of it

Anup Tapadia, CEO, TouchMagix, has revolutionized interactive systems with his innovation. Driven by an aspiration to innovate and deliver great experiences in gesture based interactive display systems, his products have reached numerous brands and consumers since the company’s inception a few years back.


His work has earned him recognition from the likes of Bill Gates, Dr. Abdul Kalam, Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar, R. Balki and Azim Premji who have acknowledged his sheer intelligence and tech driven entrepreneurial spirit. The British Government awarded him the “Global Young Creative Entrepreneur” honor in 2010.  In an interview with ProductNation, Tapadia talks about his aspirations in making India an innovation hub and to develop world-class products.

You offer a variety of interactive display solutions. What is the market potential for these products?

At TouchMagix, we are focused on creating next generation interactivity and engagement technology and have created products that use motion, gesture and touch for various applications. We manufacture and supply both technology and equipment that have been creating global standards for giving audiences a lasting impact and brand impressions. TouchMagix has a variety of interactive display products like Interactive Floor, Interactive Wall, Multi-Touch MagixKiosk & Table, MagixFone and rich capabilities to build customized solutions and content.

Customization of content is an aspect which increases the market potential of these products manifold. These applications range from creating engagement and experiences for brands, creating an interactive ambience in hotels and lounges, to marketing initiatives at on-ground activities. This technology is also being used for children entertainment, education and health. Being unique in nature, it enables brands to create conversations with their consumers, thus enabling them to become one with the brand. Over the years, we have penetrated globally across a variety of sectors including real estate, banking and financial sector, education, information technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and hospitality sectors.

Is the market willing to bet on new products?

Today, Indian and global brands are looking at innovative avenues and channels to communicate with their target audience be it customers or internal audience. With brand fatigue becoming a cause of concern for brand managers, interactive products like TouchMagix is an ideal solution. The real USP of our product is in the usability, open SDK interfaces and core tracking technology IP which allows us to track gesture/touch at a higher accuracy level and speed.

How soon was /will be your company feasible in terms of generating revenue? What are your sales projections?

We have been profitable since the first year we started business. More than a million people have engaged/experienced TouchMagix products world wide and the number is growing continually.

Indian IT industry has largely been IT services focused. What has been your experience in building products? What were the challenges faced?

We firmly believe that India has the potential to create great product companies. Our experience in building products based out of India has been quite interesting. Building electronic products is not an easy task in India as it is capital intensive and expensive. A major challenge was to find the right people and retain them for R&D based jobs. The ecosystem is evolving and we are glad to be part of it.

Do you feel the Indian ecosystem is software-product friendly? What is needed to create world-class products?

The eco-system is still evolving and education needs to promote research driven product innovations. Most of us prefer the safer route and hence many end up in starting service based companies.

For a young 24-year old guy to have been honored with the ‘International Young Interactive Entrepreneur Award 2010’ by British Council, and ‘Best Young Entrepreneur Award’ by a business magazine, says a lot about your achievements.

I was drawn to computers when I was just seven. In the subsequent five years I mastered over 15 different computer programming languages. Art and Technology have always intrigued me. When I saw Tom Cruise playing around with large displays in Minority Report, it triggered a series of thoughts in my mind on the possibilities of this kind of technology if brought to reality. This led to launching of TechnoKarma Labs. At TechnoKarma, we undertook many projects in the IT networking space such as creating low-cost firewalls and a low cost wireless mesh router, which enabled Wi-Fi connectivity in IIT Pune’s campus. One of the projects from TechnoKarma Labs was later spun off as TouchMagix.

My passion and perseverance to create a truly Indian product for global markets was the reason for my success.

You have also received appreciation from the likes of Dr. APJ Kalam, Bill Gates, Azim Premji and others. How does it feel to be acknowledged by these eminent people?

It is overwhelming when stalwarts from the industry appreciate your efforts. These endearing comments reinforced my confidence and also encouraged me to keep moving on the path of innovation.

What is the road ahead like for TouchMagix? Where do you see the company going?

While multi-touch technology revolutionized the way we currently perceive and engage with technology, gestures and motion will make user-interface even more immersive and instinctive. The potential of this technology is great today, and we are seeing that with the response for our products globally.

From keyboard and mouse to touch and gesture, the human interaction with devices have evolved in a big way to help people interact in a manner that is appropriate for their lives. In future, we aim to create products and content that would make human interaction with devices more intuitive and enable us to create memorable experiences.

What learning would you like to share with others from what you have learnt?

For emerging entrepreneurs I would suggest it’s essential for one to work at one large corporation and one small start-up to experience and understand the functioning of both setups. I feel India is a land of great opportunities and there is never a better time than now to kick-start new business in a growing economy.

TouchMagix Products

  • MotionMagix™) converts any floor/wall into an interactive space for educating and engaging users with fun, action and excitement.
  • MagixTable™ is world’s thinnest 40 point multi-touch plug-n-play surface computer table loaded with rich application suite and easy customization for corporate and entertainment application.
  • MagixKiosk™ 32″ 1080p HD can be used in 4 different form factors like table, tilted kiosk/workstation, high bar table, or as a standing flat display.
  • MagixFone™ is Any Display Any Phone interactive technology which gives your audience the ability to control the screen for playing games, answering quizzes, sending social messages and much more using their mobile phone.
  • MagixFone™ hardware picks-up the call or interprets an SMS which allows the user to use his/her mobiles keypad or voice to interact with the display.

“We want to be the analytics app store to the world” – Mahesh Ramakrishnan, Founder, Nanobi Analytics

Mahesh Ramakrishnan, Founder and CEO of Nanobi Analytics shares his fascinating journey of how he, along-with five highly accomplished professionals are out to disrupt the analytics space by providing an analytics platform and applications for every business sector. Read on…

What was the key driver to the inception of Nanobi Analytics? 

Nanobi came to existence after a rigorous and intense thought process that spanned over eight months. A couple of factors sparked the thought. First, our background and corporate experience has been in delivering analytics to large companies for over two decades. Second, I spent 18 months working for the UID project that exposed me to the open source environment of working. I was fascinated by these concepts of working on technology, wherein simplicity, agility, speed and the mode of working with constant change formed the core tenets of operation.

As I reflected upon these experiences, it occurred to me that we could combine the good things from both the above and create a platform for analytics apps, which could benefit a large set of untapped customers.  We envisioned a platform that would host very small analytics (business intelligence) applications (hence the word ‘nano BI’) and is made available to customers on a pay per use basis. This led to the formal incorporation of Nanobi Analytics.

What type of customers do you see benefiting from your platform, and how is your offering different from traditional business intelligence solutions?

Traditional business analytics solutions in large enterprises are built for usage by highly skilled workforce and require regular maintenance. Secondly, these solutions are by design, not suited for agility. It takes months for a large bank or a manufacturing behemoth to drive a small change in its business review process.

Contrast this with the medium and small enterprises. These enterprises around the world do not have access to analytics solutions simply because the costs are prohibitive, and usually it is difficult for these enterprises to employ highly skilled personnel. However, this does not mean that small or medium enterprises do not need analytics. In fact, given the constant churn, volatility and agile nature of work, it becomes all the more important for these type of industries to take decisions based on data, to ensure that they make course corrections as business circumstances change. It is this segment of customers, who thus far have not been able to leverage the power of business analytics that we target.

We have developed this analytics platform, keeping the constraints of the small and medium enterprises in mind. From a market segmentation perspective, this is a completely untapped and complementary set of customers that we are targeting. The system is designed in such a way that it is usable by any business person, who does not need to have any IT training. In fact, we do not do any end user training for our customers who sign up for usage. Also, we have made these solutions affordable to their price points.

Your concept of providing an analytics appstore should be pretty appealing to other product companies as well. How can other companies make use of this platform?

We have built analytics applications that can easily be consumed or integrated with existing products or applications. Besides, the platform on which these are hosted is open. This allows any other product developer to simply use our platform or use any of the analytics capability from us. The product developer now can only focus on providing the core business function, and can aggregate the analytics capability to their products from us. So, this largely reduces work of other product vendors and enables them to go to market faster, or reduce the time of development. We have a variety of adapters to connect data from anywhere, so our platform and our APIs will be a great advantage to these folks. We even provide training to interested product vendors on getting the best out of our apps and our platform. 

How are you influencing the channels ecosystem to reach out to your target customers? What has been your experience working with them thus far? 

We have a very effective channel partnering mechanism that helps us connect with our customers. We work with different kind of channel partners – those who already are selling to small and medium enterprises, those who specialize in selling aggregated solutions to this target customer base, and some who help us purely by generating leads to potential customers. We have early successes in each of the above approach, validating our strategy on this front.

We also partner with other vendors for technology, digital marketing and allied activities. Given our previous experience, we have forged win-win relationships, which are bearing fruits as we gain momentum in the marketplace.

On a different note, I am curious to understand how the ‘founding five’ came together. You have a strong Board of directors as well as advisors. How much of all these is relevant in the initial years of your startup? 

Well, although all members of the founding team have worked in the same organization before, each brings in complementary skills that are essential to run a company. The common thread across all of us is that each one of us has worked in product development companies and has a very good understanding of the domain of analytics. All of us had to leave lucrative and successful corporate careers and indulge in building something new from the scratch. When the goal you are setting is very big, you need equally competent people to work with to bring it to reality. I have been extremely lucky to get a competent team such as this to start up.

As regards to the Board of directors, I feel that even for startups, you need at least one person outside the founding team who takes an independent view of all actions you take as a company. In our case, since the goals we are chasing are tall and ambitious, an experienced Board will help us bring back the focus on key activities to pursue, in case we digress.

We also have well respected individuals as our advisors. They help us in unique ways. We rely on them for advice on technology, managing the ecosystem and governance needs. Having their inputs largely benefits us – since it sets the fundamentals of all aspects of the company in place right from inception. Even though we are a startup, it is our belief that setting clear practices for each function will help us grow and scale faster.

Thank you for these insights. In closing, could you please share three tips that would be useful for fellow product entrepreneurs?

I would say that one should hit the market as soon as one can. Your product is never really ready with all the features at any point in time. So, analogous to the MVP theme, if you believe that you have some capabilities that a customer would be delighted to use; go ahead and test it out. Keep in mind that it is always the customers who make your products good. Lastly, during the early startup days, it is paramount that you act immediately on customer feedback. Initial customer feedback should be the prime source of your next steps. This will ensure that you sustain yourself in the marketplace while delighting your customer with your attention.

Oogwave gained insights from CIOs at the 8th #PNMeetup

5 CIOs/Mentors, 2 startups showcasing their products, 12 good listeners and a rainy Noida morning at Adobe campus. We had a different setting this time, 15 minute of product demo and 60 minutes of quality one-on-one with the CIO community. We had two startups – Gaurav Jain, Founder & CEO of Oogwave & Vikram Bahl, Founder & CEO, Yavvy who got mentoring/guidance on their product strategy, Go-To-Market (GTM), scaling and sales among other things. Sharing some takeaways which Oogwave shared with us.

Oogwave is the content sharing platform for Enterprises, albeit the medium sized ones, and they wanted a ‘peek’ into a CIO’s perspective in order to better position themselves in the crowded market-space.

Some of the takeaways from the #PNMeetup were:

The biggest takeaway for us was that we do not need to necessarily focus on smaller/medium companies and if we are able to increase productivity, the CTOs of larger companies are more than likely to take notice, especially if we can reduce the total cost of ownership.

As we are in the business of becoming the platform of choice for enterprise collaboration, it’s priceless for us to gain insights into priorities in a CIO’s scheme of things. So while we do employ all the right technology for data security and already work on the principles of compartmentalization and least privileges, we hadn’t given much thought towards getting ourselves ISO certified. It really helps to know we can improve our prospects substantially by demonstrating that we have adequate process maturity and robust safeguards to ensure data security in line with industry standards as per ISO.

Sitting across country’s top CIO’s is quite an elucidating experience, but at the #PNMeetup we additionally got to interact with other passionate young entrepreneurs. This invigorating passion improves everyone’s morale especially when the going is tough, which is not that rare when you are an entrepreneur fighting to carve out a niche for yourself and your product. Talking to fellow product creators, understanding their challenges and accomplishments, builds up a camaraderie and is great for the startup ecosystem in the sense of building ties and establishing mutually beneficial relationships among entrepreneur community. Gaurav Jain, Founder, Oogwave

We hope to build this program on a monthly basis. If you are interested to be part of this program, do share us an email at pnmeetup(at)pn.ispirt.in

Announcing ProductNation OutSights – Structured reports showcasing #MadeInIndia Software Products

As a lead up to India’s 66th Independence Day, ProductNation announces the launch of our OutSights Series. As there are a large number of thought leaders who have a lot of insights on a lot of topics, we decided that what we have, are OutSights.

We start this series with structured reports showcasing #MadeInIndia Software Products with Global Outlook. We will create a ready listing of software products #MadeInIndia that have the potential to take the international market by storm and may pose serious competition to established market leaders in their respective fields.

While this is not a competitive series, these reports will compare companies and their products, on the basis of published criteria. ProductNation intends to conduct in depth analysis of products submitted for review in order to arrive on the list of finalists, who make it into the final report. These reports will be published and syndicated across channels and will be available as a buying guide for those shopping in these categories. The finalists will also receive the ProductNation OutSights Badge which they can display on their web properties with pride.

Here are the list of reports that are scheduled for release between July, August and September, 2013:

  •      Enterprise Cloud Apps from India to watch out for
  •      Innovative Big Data Analytics Companies from India
  •      Indian CRM apps changing customer experience
  •      VAS providers from India for global telcos
  •      Amazing Indian software products with poor marketing

ProductNation welcomes all Indian software makers who wish to participate in ProductNation OutSights, for their respective product categories. Keep watching this space for eligibility and cut-off dates for entry.

For queries or suggestions for report categories write an email to [email protected]. Please submit your product details online before 20th July 2013.

Hike Messaging App – 5M users since 12/12/12, and counting!

BSB is a start-up funded by Bharti & SoftBank building mobile products for the Indian market. Hike is a messaging app which allows instant messaging and group chat on your phone with friends who have Hike, as well as those who don’t have Hike. We caught up with BSB’s head of products and strategy, Kavin Bharti Mittal (KBM), to talk about Hike, right before he was getting ready to launch Hike 2.0, a major update to the messaging app.

Introduction

Hike is a pure Made-in-India product. BSB is based out of Gurgaon, and the product was built from scratch by this team. Under the guidance of KBM, who is also the resident UX guru, the team brought out a beautiful and highly functional product in Dec, 2012 when the team size was 15. They are 30+ now, and furiously working on next set of features, supporting users and handling the success!

Product Highlights

  • The product has been designed from grounds-up by Hike team.
  • The design is beautiful and minimalist.
  • They chose a more efficient protocol for communication (MQTT, which is less chatty than the better-known and more-often used XMPP).
  • In India, Hike allows its users to message to non-Hike users by converting Hike message into an SMS (each user is given 100 free SMS every month). This is a key differentiator for Hike, in addition to a cool and modern design.

Product Development

  • Following an agile development model, they schedule a release every 4 weeks with a stop gap release for performance and related fixes in the middle if need be. Such a schedule ensures that they are not hitting the users with too many changes too often, and still stay responsive to market feedback.
  • KBM controls the product UX and works with his designers to create detailed wireframes and mockups before engineering starts working.
  • They have a very product-focused culture and so engineering-design conflicts are minimal as everyone understands the need for a great design and works hard for it.
  • They work on multiple platforms in parallel, so lessons learned on one platform are quickly incorporated into other platforms in the same release cycle.

Product Strategy

  • Beautifully designed product – Made-in-India products are not known for good designs. Hike is a notable exception and this will help it gain ground quickly.
  • Messaging Hub – In the world of Facebook and Twitter, there is a huge amount of information generated and consumed by people, causing information overload. Hike aims to cut this clutter and allow you to create a closed network of friends with whom you share right amount of information. This is a good differentiation strategy.
  • Close partnership with carriers – With smartphone penetration going up all over the world and cheap smartphones being available, messaging applications are well-positioned to kill SMS (and jeopardize a large portion of carrier revenue). Hike can offer opportunities to carriers to offer value-added services and retain (and enhance) that revenue.

Adoption

  • The messaging app space is very crowded (WhatsApp, Facebook Chat, WeChat, Nimbuzz , etc.) and Hike is a late entrant to the party. Still it has created considerable buzz in the market and have some impressive numbers to show.
    • In 4 months since the launch (they launched on 12/12/12), they have crossed 5M users (adoption is measured by # of active users – sending at least 1 message a day) and growing fast!
    • Over 50% of their users use hike2SMS feature, which is a key differentiator for them
  • They have used rewards (Talk-time rewards, ended now) and incentives (50 free SMS for each successful invite) to good effect to create good buzz. However, as KBM says, buzz and going viral work only when you provide a good value to the users. Hike 2.0 is expected to bring in lots of features.
  • Using digital channels for marketing and support very well: Blog, support site, Facebook page and twitter handles (@hikeapp and @hikesupport) are all well used by users and well-responded by Hike team.

Hike 2.0 and beyond

On Apr 17, BSB announced Hike 2.0, a significant release which introduces ‘circle of friends’ notion and many other features. With Hike 2.0, you can now create a circle of friends (consisting of your close friends), post status and mood updates to them, and review their recent updates. This is similar to Facebook’s Improved Friend Lists and Google + . Read the announcement for full list of Hike 2.0 new features and enhancements.

‘Status updates’ are asynchronous models of communication (you don’t expect your friends to read and respond immediately, though this Facebook generation usually does!) while messaging is supposed to be synchronous – you engage in conversation in real-time and expect a response. With 2.0 release, Hike is positioning itself as the ‘messaging hub’ for mobile-first crowd, and taking a ‘closed group, more engagement’ approach (as opposed to ‘everyone reads everything about me’ philosophy). While this might pit it against Facebook and G+ in terms of functionality, I think this is good strategy going forward to capture mindshare of an audience who is a public enough to chat with anyone, but private enough to need the solace of ‘circle of friends’. This also attracts users like me who prefer private and deep conversations and shun messaging apps because of its openness.

As Hike grows beyond the feature-functionality debate, it needs to give more focus on back-end: messaging is critical for its audience and disruptions caused by planned maintenance or rush to get new release must be avoided at all costs. 

The Road Ahead

My address book contains my US, China and India friends which add up to about 400 contacts. When I installed Hike on my phone (Nokia 710), I found hardly 5 friends who were on Hike (Hike looks for those who are on Hike and adds to your friend list). I did the same for WhatsApp, and I saw 80% of my contacts show up as using WhatsApp, including some of the people I didn’t think were in the target segment of messaging apps!

Hike has a long way to go, but I think they have started with the right product and are travelling in the right direction. May the force be with them! 

Presentations to CIOSE and the KUDOS!!!

In our latest blog we had written about CIOSE(CIO Strategy Exchange) and  about the 5 companies that were shortlisted to provide a presentation to Ernest M Von Simson and these five companies were 

  • ArrayShield – “Two-Factor Authentication”
  • C2il – “Asset Life Cycle Management”
  • i7 networks – “Agentless BYOD Discovery & Control”
  • Fieldez – “On Demand mobile workforce management”
  • Kreeo – “Knowledge management”

Everyone who presented to Ernie walked out with a smile, with abundant knowledge on how to pitch for the CIO and also what makes sense in the local market and what might not. Ernie was very happy to be the audience for these presentations and he was all praise for the Indian companies and this is what he had to say:

Though the presentations and dialogues were fairly brief, I was impressed by the sophistication shown by the Indian developers of mobility apps and mobility cyber security. They had learned much from analyses of their American counterparts and developed products that produced similar results with much, much lower TCO. “Less is more” in the words of the famous architect Mies van de Rohe.

Manjunath M Gowda, CEO of i7 Networks who was one of the presenters was very happy with the outcome and was amazed how much he knew of  the space and how laser focus were his feedback and this is what he had to say “He knew the subject very well and he asked me the right questions and his help in how to position was amazing. Looking forward for the next step”.

Pavan who is the CEO of ArrayShield was amazed to know how well it can fit into US enterprises too and he was thrilled and he profusely thanked Product nation for providing this opportunity and he said “The feedback and suggestions shared by Ernie was quite valuable, especially good to know that the market demand for our kind of products in US is high and we are addressing an opportunity which is currently under-served”

Q&A with Seclore CEO on Information Rights Management Software

Often, enterprise goals of security and collaboration are mutually exclusive. Seclore, with customers in Asia, Europe and North America, resolves that dilemma. Seclore’s CEO, Vishal Gupta, discusses Information Rights Management trends as well as development of the company’s IRM product. This article is brought to SandHill readers in partnership with ProductNation.

SandHill.com: Please describe your company’s software product and your market.

Vishal Gupta: Seclore is an information security software product company. Our core technology enables information to be “remote controlled.” So you can send me a document, image or email and then, after 10 days, if the relationship changes, you can press a button on your computer and the information will effectively vanish from my computer! Sounds Mission Impossible? It is definitely doable.

During the 10 days you also can control whether I can edit, print, forward or copy-paste from the document, image or email. You can also monitor who is doing what (tried to print the document) with the information, when (on Sunday morning) and from where (from his home computer).

The mission of the company is to help enterprises achieve the mutually conflicting goals of security and collaboration together. We currently have customers in the financial services, engineering services, manufacturing and defense sectors across three continents.

SandHill.com: How does your product differ from other security products?

Vishal Gupta: Seclore’s technology is different because it allows information usage to be controlled without the prerequisite of everyone installing a local agent. It is the most integration-friendly Information Rights Management (IRM) system in the world. Any person or system within the enterprise that is creating documents or emails can use Seclore’s technology for securing the information.

SandHill.com: How did your company originate?

Vishal Gupta: Seclore came out of the IIT Bombay incubator. The company was initially a campus project, which became a company. The company was launched with the specific mandate of providing a secure outsourcing solution to enterprises looking to outsource business processes. Over a period of time we realized that what we had created as a solution to a specific problem was in fact applicable in a much wider context.

The formal operations of the company were started in June 2006. The name Seclore comes from “Sec” (for “secure”) and “Lore” (for “knowledge,” as in folklore). So Seclore stands for Secure Knowledge.

Read the complete interview at Sandhill.com

SaaS #MadeinIndia Products – Social Media

As Batman (or a CEO, Founder, Partner) would want somethings to be done, or not done, and especially with a plethora of multiple social media channels to be on, a marketing guy, or a social media girl, or anyone handling social media for a company will always have a tough time.

So, then what is the solution? Well, a lot of smart made in India products have come out solving this same problem for a bunch of businesses. To manage all their social media accounts in 1 place, be it Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc.

So we created a list again of SaaS products made from India, specifically focussing on solving this problem around Social Media, this list is not exhaustive, and we hope to get a lot of feedback on more companies and products from you, so please drop in a comment or email us and we will add those companies as well.

Some of them are (in alphabetical order):

1. Crowdnub – Build and launch your rich custom-like Social app in minutes. Re-purpose, re-use, the smarter social app platform.

2. Beevolve – All in one Social Media Monitoring and Measurement Software

3. EaseSocial – EaseSocial automates all your social media campaigns. It allows you to view all the online conversations about your brand and products in real time.

4. Grabinbox – Manage multiple social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

5. Konnect Social – Monitor & analyze all brand conversations from one simple tool.

6. Mangoapps – MangoApps uniquely combines Enterprise Social Networking, Team Collaboration tools and Intranet pages into one breakthrough product.

7. Markitty – making online marketing on social media easy.

8. MuHive – Customer Engagement on Steroids

9. SaltSocial – Social Media Monitoring and Engagement Dashboard for agencies and organizations.

10. Simplify360 – World’s first 360′ Social Media Marketing Suite

11. SocialAppsHQ – Social media monitoring, actionable analytics, engagement tools, viral apps and so much more in one easy-to-use platform.

12. Sokrati – Propel engagement and conversations via Social Media Marketing.

13. Unmetric – The Social Media benchmarking company for brands.

14. ViralMint – Viral Marketing and customer acquisition platform around social.

If you have any other suggestions, and we have missed out on any, please help us further, email us or put in a comment.

The next SaaS #madeinIndia products focus will be on business phone systems.

Q&A with MAIA Intelligence, India’s Largest Business Intelligence Software Company

MAIA Intelligence, launched in 2006, was the first business intelligence software product company in India. Its product, 1KEY Agile BI Suite, is designed with the vision of serving the analytics and reporting needs of an entire organization from the operational end users to the top executives. In this interview, CEO and founder Sanjay Mehta discusses the product benefits and the importance of customer feedback in developing a market-leading product. This article is brought to SandHill readers in partnership with ProductNation.   

SandHill.com: What is your company’s mission and what was your original vision? 

Sanjay Mehta: MAIA Intelligence is a young and innovative company committed to developing powerful BI reporting and analysis products. MAIA’s mission is to democratize BI and take it from a few expert users to the operational managers, and from frontline executives to the back-office team.

While at my former company (Udyog), we realized that for ERP software there are too many challenges in creating reports as and when required. The Udyog customers wanted a reporting tool to the business software as a plug-in. These customers then started asking for enhanced reporting capabilities and features in other business applications such as CRM, HR Management, etc.

Business intelligence is a domain which traditionally is aimed for the top decision maker. But what we have observed is that with adequate information at hand, operational-level decision making also improves drastically — improving productivity, increasing revenue and market share. We now have more than 45,000 users across India and are the largest BI software product company in India. 

SandHill.com: Is there a story behind your company name? 

Sanjay Mehta: MAIA is a female given name of Greek origin. MAIA also means the eldest of the Pleiades in Greek mythology, also identified with an Ancient Italic goddess of spring and the most beautiful. Similar to Laxmiji, goddess of prosperity. 

SandHill.com: Please describe your product suite and your market. 

Sanjay Mehta: Our flagship product is 1KEY Agile BI Suite, which is a comprehensive business intelligence software application catering to strategic, tactical and operational data analysis and reporting needs of multiple vertical industries. An integrated offering with a choice to pick and choose modules (business user interfaces), it enables organizations to deploy the BI framework with minimal investments and have a secure, enterprise-wide, dynamic reporting platform in six weeks, irrespective of existing applications.

We also have other products such as 1KEY Touch (an advanced interactive dashboard and reporting software), 1KEY FCM (a financial consolidation management solution) and postXBRL software (an XBRL reporting tool). Our upcoming product is 1KEY HPC (high-performance computing analytics software).

Our 1KEY BI application is suitable for small businesses as well as enterprises. We have been making good inroads in almost all the industry verticals, especially BFSI, Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, FMCG, Consumer Durables & Retail. As of now we have customers largely in India and the Middle East, but we are looking to expand soon in the other global markets through strategic alliances.

Read the complete story at Sandhill.com

CIOSE selects 8 #MadeInIndia product companies to showcase on global platform

CIO Strategy Exchange (CIOSE) has selected 8 companies from India from the #MadeInIndia tag to showcase them on a global platform. Its director Ernest M. von Simson reviewed many applications that were submitted and chose 8 companies to showcase when he is here in Bangalore. The eight companies are Kreeo, Cloudpact, OrangeScape, i7 Networks, C2il, ArrayShield, Anoosmar, and FieldEZ.

CIOSE received many applications from early stage technology startups to those who have spent few years in the industry, with exciting ideas across Big Data, social networking, Analytics, healthcare, education, mobile applications, security, etc., during the one week period starting January 31, 2013 until February 8 2013. The final 8 were selected after several rigorous rounds of screening by CIOSE. 

The demo from these selected companies will happen in Bangalore on Februay 26th and 27th in iGate premises. 

Here are the selected companies and their product details:

  1. Kreeo: Due to information overload, inefficient information discovery and ineffective management of knowledge and learning.  Despite the best of tools from biggest of vendors organizations are not able to significantly enhance knowledge worker productivity.  Kreeo’s innovative “Collective Intelligence” framework and product uniquely combines the power of social computing, PaaS and Big Data in a unified framework (winner of Nasscom Emerge 50 2012 in Innovation category) is used by companies like Standard Chartered Bank to evolve to next level.
  2. CloudPact’s Marble Enterprise: CloudPact Marble is an award winning, unique enterprise mobility platform, with the world’s best cloud hosted mobile application development IDE, smooth enterprise connectivity, security and comprehensive management tools. We help our customers mobile enable their enterprise and extend their business frontier to very edge of mobile reach.  We provide mobility solutions across industry verticals which can be deployed in public clouds, private clouds and also dedicated, traditional IT infrastructure.
  3. OrangeScape: Cloud has disrupted the middleware market with Platform as a Service. All larger enterprise are evaluating PaaS offerings currently. However, there three key capabilities enterprises are looking a) Private Cloud Deployment b) Productivity with greater price performance c) Specialized for B2B Apps. OrangeScape Visual PaaS elegantly address these 3 key requirements when compared Generic PaaS offerings. OrangeScape is featured among the Global Top 10 PaaS companies in research reports of Forrester and Gartner.
  4. i7 Networks – PeregrineGuard: i7 Networks enables enterprises to “say Yes” to BYOD by providing an agentless paradigm for discovery and access control. Our premier offering in this space – PeregrineGuard – enables an intelligent, non-intrusive, clientless way of detecting all devices that are trying to connect to the corporate network. By the use of proprietary algorithms and sophisticated fingerprinting techniques, we extract highly granular information like device-type, device-class, OS, version, user of the device, etc; this information is used to provide device based differential access to corporate assets and to make sure sensitive data is provided right access to the right device type. It integrates with EAS and also provides authentication via AD and also denies access to all jailbroken/rooted/compromised devices. Only those devices that pass the company’s baseline configuration and are registered via EAS are allowed to connect to network for further access.
  5. C2il’s inciseEAM: inCiseEAM Asset life-cycle Management system takes the power, performance and possibilities of Asset management to an entirely new level. Built on a single software platform, inCiseEAM Asset life-cycle Management framework delivers a comprehensive view of all Asset types — production, facilities, transportation and IT — across your enterprise. This holistic perspective allows you to see all your Assets, as well as identify all the untapped potential within them. You gain the knowledge and control you need to closely align your organization’s goals with the overall goals of your business.
  6. ArrayShield’s ArrayShield IDAS: This product addresses the growing threat to enterprises from advanced malware/Trojan based attacks that steal the credentials and attack the enterprise in real time. By protecting the critical organizational data from advanced malware attacks using innovative two factor authentication, enterprises can minimize their security risk and protect their organization data and brand. Globally, Two factor authentication is now being considered as a must have much like anti-virus or firewalls. As per Gartner, 2FA market is expanding by 30% globally and many of the current 2FA mechanisms are flawed like that of hardware tokens, sms based solutions. Hence ArrayShield is uniquely positioned to capture the 2Bn$ global market that is growing at 30% CAGR.
  7. Anoosmar’s Vaultize: The current CIO challenges: 1. with the rapid consumerization of IT and proliferation of consumer solutions like dropbox in enterprise, enterprise IT is looking to control the data loss that might happen through these cloud services 2. traditional file sharing is too cumbersome for roaming users endpoint data (e.g. laptops) is hardly backed up and encrypted. Traditional backups are geared for structured-data (application data) and not unstructured (files) Vaultize provides a unified platform for file backup, file sharing, endpoint encryption and mobility. Vaultize offers this through public cloud, appliance or private-cloud/on-premise. Vaultize’s at-source encryption together with de-duplication helps enterprises adopt cloud based backup and file sharing by eliminating concerns about security, data privacy and compliance. The patent-pending technology secures data even before it leaves endpoints. 
  8. FieldEZ: is an On-Demand mobile based solution that makes managing mobile workforce such as field sales or service teams very efficient and easy. With features such as call management & scheduling, enterprise collaboration, time & location reporting, integrated bar code scanning and payment options, FieldEZ provides valuable field insights to management and boosts the productivity of field personnel while making a positive difference to their work.  It works on common feature phones and smartphones, with a highly responsive user interface, robust security, ease of configuration and web-services for integration. It can work as a standalone Field Service / Sales Management solution or provide the “last mile” mobility to incumbent backend systems.

ProductNation and CIOSE take this opportunity to thank all the participants and like to congratulate the selected 8 companies.

ProductNation is now Proudly Powered by iSPIRT.in

I am happy to inform you that ProductNation will now be part of iSPIRT – a think-tank focussed on transforming India into a hub for new generation software products, a thought which finally is seeing action. Welcome to the new look of the website where we have made it easier for our readers to find stories that interest them and share it with friends and professional colleagues. Do drop by and share your comments if you like the design or have any suggestions for improvement.

Let me tell you how this all started. For a long time, I have had this urge to make a substantial contribution to the product eco-system in India and I shared this in my previous blog. I am proud to say that in less than five months, we have been able to do 175+ blogs, got around 20+ blog contributors, and featured 40+ #MadeInIndia Product stories. With the support of few PNEvangelists, we have been able to do few #PNMeetups in the NCR region.

But ultimately it’s not about what we want to do but about what the product ecosystem expects. I think the real value comes when ProductNation is looked upon by this emerging industry as the most favored watering hole for good ideas and thoughts that will contribute to the growth of the industry.

It’s been an exciting journey and going forward we will be able to add value in a much more structured manner to the ecosystem. As I write this blog, I’m already working on few partnerships which will be able to give more visibility to the product start-ups from India.

So what does this alignment with iSPIRT mean?

The goal of ISPIRT is to help product entrepreneurs learn from each other and from experts so that they grow their companies faster. We also seek to encourage the right policy environment and the availability of public goods so that the industry can scale more rapidly.
In the first year, we aim to achieve the following:

  • Explain simply, cogently and persuasively to public intellectuals why a vibrant software product industry is vital to India’s future
  • Establish pn.ispirt.in as the open platform for deeper conversations within the industry
  • Spawn new community-led initiatives like iSMB and M&A Connect to address critical gaps.,

You can find more details at www.ispirt.in.

Finally, I’d like to thank my supporting partners (Sandhill, Yorke Communications, Iridium Interactive & Boring Brands) and the contributors for ProductNation who have actively stood by me in making ProductNation a destination for software products in an extremely short time.

I continue to seek your support in the journey ahead. Let’s all contribute and make a positive impact to the eco-system. Thank you.

Find out what inspired Pallav Nadhani to start FusionCharts on their 10th anniversary.(Part 1 of 2)

Pallav Nadhani, CEO and Co-founder of FusionCharts, was just 17 when he started the data visualization product company in 2002. The company today is one of India’s most successful product stories and happens to be one of the first Indian start-ups to have caught the eye of the Obama administration. FusionCharts has a user base of 450,000 across 118 countries, and the company celebrates its 10th year of existence on October 22, 2012. In the first part of a two-part interview with pn.ispirt.in, Pallav Nadhani talks to us about what inspired him to start FusionCharts, the importance of marketing in a commoditized industry and how the company believes in training and retaining its talent.  (Don’t forget to download the Free copy which has the complete story of FusionCharts)

Pallav, congratulations to your team and you on FusionCharts’ 10th anniversary. We’re curious to know — when did you decide that you wanted to get into the product space and start a company? What was your inspiration?

I call myself an accidental entrepreneur for a reason. When I started thinking about FusionCharts, I had no idea I was going to develop a product or even run a company. It was something I wanted to do for pocket money! In 1999, I was in Class 11 when I came across this site that accepted innovative articles on technology. By then I had already done a bit of coding (there’d been a computer in my house since I was eight years old) and I was using Microsoft Excel in school, and I hated the boring charts that the program created. I thought — why not convert those boring Excel charts into a lively format for the web? So I wrote some code, and then wrote an article based on that code which got picked up by a website called ASPToday.com. I got paid $1500 for the article which is a lot of money when you’re 16! I got a lot of feedback from developers on the article, and it got me thinking: if so many people were interested in the concept and were giving me inputs, why not consolidate all the modifications and start selling the concept as a product? So there was no market research as such. However, I did make a clear-cut decision when it came to choosing between developing a product and a service: despite the fact that I had some experience working in a service model (I worked in my dad’s web design firm), I knew that there were problems like working with only one client at a time, and the fact that people didn’t trust you as a 17 year old! So for a while my dad fronted me: he would bring in the clients and I would do the work.

 

In a product company there are guys who develop and then the guys who package, market and sell the product. Traditionally, in the services model it’s the developers who tend to take center stage but in the product space people usually say it’s the marketing which makes the difference. What’s your take on this?

I absolutely agree. When we set up FusionCharts we were very aware of the fact that we were going to be operating in a commoditized world. Our top five competitors are amongst the biggest companies today: Microsoft, Yahoo, IBM, Google and Adobe give competing products for free and there are others who also offer charting libraries like ours. On an average, our product is 10 to 100 times more expensive than our nearest competitors. Still, we’ve grown in this fiercely competitive market, and this is not just because of our product: it’s because of our positing, our story telling and the whole packaging. Other products out there directly appeal to developers who often have limited budgets when it comes to purchasing components — but our approach involves appealing to the level just above the developers who are often the decision makers and this has worked well for us.

Much of a product’s success relies not only on quality of the development but also on the kind of people who are part of the team. You have guys who are hesitant about joining a smaller setup because they are worried about stability and are unsure about joining a place which gives no guarantee whether it will exist the next year or not.  What’s your strategy when it comes to hiring good people?

The only time when we found trained talent is when we shifted to Bangalore, but this was for the middle management level. We’ve found it quite rare to find ready-made talent at the development level. At this level, almost everybody who is on our team has come to us fresh out of college, and have been trained by us for anywhere between 12 and 36 months. We’ve trained them with the approach of building the product. This is important because one of the issues we had with people who came from bigger companies was the difficulty they had in adjusting to the fast and agile environment of a product company like ours. So we decided it would be better to concentrate on hiring high intensity guys, giving them some light projects to work on and training them so that they’d be good to go in a couple of years. This also helps create a sense of loyalty because we’re taking them on board at a very early level in their career and this means we have a lower attrition rate.

You make a very valuable point. So what do you feel about the fear in the market about spending time training freshers and then watching them jump ship after spending about two years with you?

I look at it as an engineering challenge: if a guy is willing to move to the competition, what are the incentives that he’s getting? Nobody moves from a product company to a services company purely because of the type of work. Sure, some companies sell to employees just like they sell to customers and the employee may want to opt for a bigger brand name but this is often at the cost of his or her engineering lifestyle. What you do at a product company like ours is something that you can talk about to your friends, you know where your code is going, you have a complete idea about the product and you can proudly point out what your contribution is. In a large organization this is not really the case, and often you don’t have a clear idea of why you are writing a certain piece of code, and you may not be able to talk to your friends about what you do because of confidentiality clauses. Whereas here, you’re given a problem statement and given the freedom to figure out how you want to approach it. Then there are things like the US President Obama selling FusionCharts in 2010 to design digital dashboards for the federal administration. These things inspire confidence in employees, and give them a level of satisfaction. So the employee has to make a decision if this is something he or she wants to give up, as well as give up working with a team he or she has grown comfortable with.

Read the second part of the interview where Pallav shares the list of Top 10 mistakes entrepreneurs make…(Part 2 of 2)