8 tech products from India for the World

India has come a long way since its Independence on 15th August, 1947. One industry that has really shined for India is IT/ITES and that really have put India in a global map. The major contribution has come in the form of Software services with names such as Infosys, TCS, Wipro & HCL being the torch bearers. However, be it due to lack of media attention or for the lack of sheer scale, India is still not looked upon as a Product Nation that has created a global consumer or enterprise facing product such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP and other such marquee names. It is a bit ironical that all these big giants have a size-able number of Indian minds working for them!

So, on the eve of Independence Day of India, let’s give a shout out to few products which are slowly and steadily helping India to become a Product Nation and inspiring many Indian entrepreneurs to dream big for the World!


Capillary Tech — Any retailer in the world if looking for a customer engagement solution, then Capillary probably will be there in the list of evaluation. That is the brand it has able to create for itself in quick time. It has shown that an industry specific solution can be also scaled up big time!

Crowdfire — It is a social media management app for Instagram and Twitter. Earlier know us ‘just unfollow’, it has really shown that to get users, the focus should be on user need and not on complex problems.

Finacle — Infosys should always be proud of on the success of Finacle. This has helped them take multiple risks in product and platforms space. Finacle has always kept itself up to date owing to change in banking customers’ behavior. The fact that banks are using it in more than 94 countries speaks a lot of its universal applicability. Finacle has shown that despite the parent company being service oriented, products can be created if given independence in execution!

Freshdesk — It started in an industry which already had multiple matured players in the market. But focus on UX, price points and its target customer needs, it has nailed the customer support space. And with its recent hiring, it has shown the importance of right leadership.

Tally — It is almost a synonym for accounting software. And probably the first global product out of India. Again have shown to focus on user problems than anything else.

Web Engage — It has redefined the way how products should engage with customers. Again it operates in a highly competitive space but with its focus on innovative features, has shown how a product should be scaled up.

Wingify — Just look at their main page and you will fell in love with its mission statement. Overlaps with the web engage space to some extent but the mission statement itself separates them out.

Zoho — The perfect example of how to run a product business. In the age where founders chase funding, Zoho has remain bootstrapped and keeps churning out a productivity product for a business problem.

These products inspires us at UX Hack on a daily basis to have the right intent and build for the World!

Guest Post by Nishith Gupta, Founder, UXHack.co

India B2B Software Products Industry Clocks Solid Growth from 2014 to 2015

India’s B2B software product industry has grown nicely since we published the first edition of this index in November 2014 – the top 30 companies are valued at $10.25 billion (₹65,500 crores) and employ over 21,000 people.  The index has grown 20% in USD terms and 28% in INR terms from October 30, 2014 to June 30, 2015.

There has been an acceleration since 2010 in the pace of creation of B2B companies.  Vertically-focused offerings in retail, travel, financial services, media have reached scale and we are likely to see some larger exits in terms of IPOs or M&A over the next couple of years. In parallel, we are seeing horizontal offerings targeting global markets emerge and start to breakout of India into the US and other global markets – we are starting to see not only India-based venture funds backing these companies but also Silicon Valley funds coming in once there is initial customer adoption in the US.

A new set of founders are coming into the B2B software products ecosystem. These include an increasing proportion who have worked at consumer and B2B startups that have scaled in India and who have identified problems that they can solve with software automation.  We are also seeing continued venture creation from founding teams that have backgrounds from established enterprise software companies and some from IT services companies.

In terms of target markets, fast-growth Indian companies (in sectors such as organized retail, organized healthcare services and technology startups in product commerce and services commerce i.e. online-to-offline) are starting to purchase software from Indian B2B software product startups and have globally-aligned requirements, helping these startups get closer to product-market fit before or in parallel to starting to sell globally. We are also seeing many startups go global from day-one through a desk-selling model, as evidenced by many of the companies in the index. And finally, several startups have moved founders to the US and are succeeding in direct selling models there.

Some of the numbers: 80% of companies have global customer bases, while the rest are India-focused.  67% of companies are domiciled in India, with the rest principally in Singapore and the US.  Bangalore and NCR account for half the companies’ principal city of operations with Chennai and Pune as key secondary hubs – there is a trend to newer companies starting up in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune and away from NCR.  Average enterprise value per employee is climbing toward Silicon Valley levels – the index currently nets out to $480k per employee.

The top 30 companies in alphabetical order are:

Here’s the report in its entirety:

Thanks to all the volunteers at iSPIRT who worked on this project as well as Professor Sharique Hasan of Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; Professor Rishi Krishnan of IIM-Indore; as well as Signal Hill for providing public market valuation comparables and Rakesh Mondal  for designing the document..

We will publish an updated iSPIxB2B index every year starting with the next one in June 2016 – please do click here to submit names of companies you think should make this list.

Content marketing your way to multi-million dollars in revenue – iSPIRT Playbook Roundtable

Playbook-RoundTable is one of the most sought after community events of iSPIRT. It’s a gathering of 12 like-minded product startups who are beyond the early stage. RoundTables are facilitated by an iSPIRT maven who is an accomplished practitioner of that Round-Table theme.

The Playbook Roundtable (#PlaybookRT) on content marketing is a brainstorming session on how to acquire users at scale and confer them to customers without paying a dime through content marketing.The playbook roundtable is facilitated by Paras Chopra, founder and CEO of Wingify (the makers of VWO). Paras founded Wingify in 2009 and the company today has 3700 customers across the globe including the likes of Microsoft, AMD and Groupon, and is known as one of the SaaS poster boys of the country.- How to generate initial traction for your product with content marketing?
– How to target your content to the right audience using personas?
– How to get top marketing experts in the world your biggest influencers?
– How to measure RoI on your content marketing?
– How to scale up the team?
– How to get covered on TechCrunch, trend on HackerNews and write for the likes of Moz and Smashing Magazine?

If you are interested, please fill the below mentioned form. If shortlisted, we will confirm by 31st March 2015

I Just Wanted 50K INR per month, but ended up building company with $9M revenue – Paras Chopra, VWO.com

Paras Chopra from Wingify is great story for startup ecosystem in India and I personally become a fan of him after I watched his Unpluggd Talk on “How To Bootstrap A Tech Startup In India” – His simplicity and honesty gives lot of clarity on how he started his company. All that he wanted to earn is 50,000 INR and had no plan to create company that will generate 9M USD revenue. His perseverance, hard work, and ability to learn from few failures before has out wonderfully for him. Being bootstrapped and growing at 100% rate is just phenomenal success. I am very confident his story inspires many young entrepreneurs.

It was very clear in his words, that bootstrapped startups suffer from media attention which could help them to reach to their target customers, he was envisioning a dedicated publication on Bootstrapping, YourStory started a Bootstrapping Series where they have covered more than half a dozen startups and we are hoping they will do much more soon. The main stream media has been doing some story lately and our goal is to steer that interest and bring awesome ventures to forefront and provide them what they need most.

You can watch full conversation in this video: 

Scale Hacking at #PNCamp: What To Expect on Day 2 (Dec 5)

It’s a conference….it’s a summit….it’s a camp! Being a startup ourselves, we constantly listen to  our customers (who are startups as well!) and try and come up with initiatives that solve their problems and address their pain points.

In that regard, the genesis and the program design of the ProductNation Camp has come from what we’ve been hearing from you – the Indian product startup community. Sandeep has very nicely elucidated the need for a Product Bootcamp for Product entrepreneurs and laid out the broad agenda of the #PNCamp.

#PNCamp is expected to be a very intense, highly curated and focused two-day event with two tracks – Discovery Hacking (on Dec 4) and Scale Hacking (on Dec 5). For a product entrepreneur, getting the first set of customers is mighty important from multiple perspectives – validating the need for the product in the market, generating the first rupees (or dollars!) in revenue  and grow the startup from a buzz in the head to a live organism. While 2013 is expected to end with a Dhoom for Bollywood fans, it’s the same for product entrepreneurs attending #PNCamp. Rather than an ending, we hope it’ll be a new beginning for them to grow their startups to greater heights in the coming year. One of the producers of the product startup community’s Dhoom, Sai unveiled the first look of #PNCamp and gave us a glimpse of what’s in store for attendees of the Discovery Hacking track on Day 1.

It is said that well begun is half done. Let’s stay the tough part, that of beginning well has been taken care of and you are now staring at the tougher part – of growing your startup across multiple dimensions. That is when the startup is in the happy-confused state and there are a lot of questions on your mind.  Sales cures most ills, but how do you sell? This will be the primary thrust of the morning sessions which is mandatory. Here, we will have separate tracks for those who are selling to a global audience and those who are selling domestically. The challenges, hiring, operations, etc are completely different. In the afternoon, we have various exciting sessions on how to understand and communicate with customers and how to pick the right product direction when you have scarce resources to spread amongst several promising ones. Choice in an uncertain world is not easy and while we promise no silver bullets for your problems, we do promise to ignite enough fire in the belly (and in the heads!) for you to go back and navigate your way into scaling your startup. We also have specific “Oh, Oh, How do I do that?” sessions on specific topisc you’ve always wanted to know..

So specifically, what do we have to offer to you on the Scale Hacking Day:

We will have around 75 chosen participants for the Scale Hacking Day divided into cohorts of 15-20 people each. There are mandatory sessions which all participants will attend and then the cohorts will attend the optional sessions depending on the stage of the company and their interest.

The Mandatory Sessions

Great Indian Street Fight or Selling In India”

No wonder most of the selling in India happens through ‘feet on street’. And when you’re out there on the streets, it’s always a fight. Fight against time to sign-up customers, fight against a thousand other things to get the customers’ attention, fight for receiving payments on time and just fight for survival!

You have probably got your first set of customers, but you want to scale now. What are the different ways to do that? Does the Channel Partner route work and what are the pros and cons of taking that approach? How do you reach out to your next set of potential customers in an effective manner? Should you now start considering mainstream media for advertising or scale up your digital marketing efforts? More importantly, how do you plan for scale and put together the right team to execute your plans? How to hire the right people and fire the ones that don’t work out well?

Dhiraj Kacker, who has built Cavera into the leading destination for customized printed merchandize and an e-commerce solutions provider for photographers, will facilitate this session. Dhiraj along with Canvera’s Co-Founder Peeyush was recognized as amongst the top-10 Most Influential People in Photography in India by Asian Photography magazine. So he surely knows what clicks with his customers!

“Dancing with Elephant/Winging in the new flat world or Selling to Global Customers”

If IT services companies made the world flat, Saas product companies have made it even flatter!

While Zoho remains the pioneer, we have seen many SaaS companies FreshDesk, WebEngage, Wingify, Capillary Technologies, ChargeBee among others whose products are proudly Indian and that are selling to customers from across the globe. What does it take to build a global SaaS company out of India? More importantly, what does it take to sell to customers you haven’t met or even spoken to? How do you price your product so that customers from across geographies can buy it? How do you take care of the differences in the customers expectations, time zones, languages, even customs and culture across different regions? After all, every product has a personality. What about providing support to global customers?

Samir Palnitkar (ShopSocially, AirTight Networks) & Girish Mathrubootham (FreshDesk, Zoho) will facilitate this session. You wouldn’t want to miss this session unless you want to see your dollar dreams go sour!

The Optional Sessions

“Customers Buy Features, Not Benefits or How To Think Customer First?”

Here’s a quick question – which is the Indian brand that has grown the fastest in recent times and its identity (hint, hint!) transcends all barriers of language, region and religion? What’s more, it is very much an Indian tech startup! Yes, you guessed it right. It is Aadhar. Meet Shankar Maruwada, who gave the Aadhar its brand name and developed its identity and made it into the household brand it is today. Get to know how to place yourself inside the customers’ heads, try and understand what factors play in their decision-making and how you can approach your customers better by anticipating what’s possibly on their minds.

If you want to get a sense of what’s in store for you, watch this video


Well, you wouldn’t want to be that fish which can’t understand how people live without water!

“How to get featured in TechCrunch, spending $0”

It’s true that media coverage alone isn’t the true barometer of success of a startup. But hey, when has positive media attention, especially from a top global publication like TechCrunch hurt any startup? That is of course, assuming that the product is a good one!

For a lot of product entrepreneurs, getting featured on TechCrunch is a dream and considered as a good means to be visible in front of a lot of people – customers, investors, partners among others. So what does it take to get featured in TechCrunch? Considering they’d be getting hundreds of requests each day, do the writers and editors there even read such emails? Do you need to hire a high-profile PR agency and spend a lot of money?  Or should you just build something meaningful and the coverage will happen by itself?

Valorie Wagoner, Founder of ZipDial, has done that and been there (on TechCrunch). ZipDial is one of the fastest growing global startups emerging from India and Valerie will share her experiences of getting covered in global tech blogs and tell you how your startup can also get featured with no money spent!

“Positioning for Getting Acquired”

So you think acquisition only when you have reached a certain level and scale of business? Well, that’s what a lot of entrepreneurs in Bangalore thought before they attended this round table. How do you know if the time is ripe for your company getting acquired? How do you choose between multiple suitors you may have? What are some of the key things one should keep in mind so that all the stakeholders have a favourable outcome? While an acquisition is a regular business transaction in the US, do we Indians get (needlessly?) emotional about it?

Jay Pullur, Founder and CEO of Pramati Technologies and Sanat Rao, Director, Corporate Business Development (Emerging Markets) at Intel will facilitate this session. iSPIRT has a very active M&A initiative with Jay and Sanat actively leading the M&A Connect. You’d surely not want to miss this opportunity to understand how you can set yourself up for a nice acquisition.

“The Forum or Where You Can Bring Out Your Worst Fears!”

Every CEO needs somewhere to turn for the insight and perspective only trusted peers can provide. When such peers meet together in a setting where there is an atmosphere of confidentiality, respect and trust, it can become a supreme sounding board. We will call such a setting a “Forum”. Such a forum can become most valued asset for the members, because the maxim holds true: it can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be.

At #PNCamp, we want to experiment, for the first time, with building such a Forum by forming a small group of peers who meet regularly to exchange ideas, thoughts and experiences on the issues that matter most to them. During the first meeting at the PNCamp, this group will be taught effective forum techniques, a set of protocols and a shared language that creates immediate and meaningful connections among members.

We expect that once created, the Forum group will periodically meet either in person or online with the following agenda:

1- Update each other by looking back since the last meeting and looking forward

2- Identify, discuss and park business issues that are typically Important but not Urgent

3- Make presentations around these issues and get non-judgmental feedback from the fellow members

I’ll end this post with a quote from the very inspirational movie, The Shawshank Redemption.

Dear Red, If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you?

Of course, you remember the name of the town. It’s Pune and we look forward to see you in Pune on Dec 4 and Dec 5 for #PNCamp.

PS. After all this if you haven’t still applied for #PNCamp yet, we’re afraid you may be a little late. Apply Now here!


How Visual Website Optimizer got to 2,500+ paid customers through great content and rigorous A/B tests

Last month, I promised to bring you stories of how Indian startups took their products to the world and got the inside scoop on how WebEngage used educational content and live demos to get to 7,000 users in less than 15 months. While I have been slow in bringing more stories to you, this one should more than make up for it.

In this post, I bring you the story of Visual Website Optimizer in conversation with its founder and CEO Paras Chopra. Visual Website Optimizer is an easy-to-use A/B testing tool that allows marketing professionals to create different A/B tests using a point-and-click editor (without needing any HTML knowledge). It is one of India’s fastest growing startups and has got to 2,500+ paid customers including the likes of Microsoft, AMD, Groupon & Airbnb using great content and rigorous A/B tests.

Let’s get started.

How did you get the initial buzz going for your product? 

Paras: Initial buzz was entirely product driven. The concept of visual A/B testing was non-existent then so the product was radical in that sense. A/B testing existed, but it wasn’t this easy.

Did you have marketing built into your product, and were you marketing your product as you were developing it? Or did it all start only after you had a finished product?

Yes, we detected successful A/B tests and requested for a case study from the customer automatically. The case studies gave a lot of buzz. First MVP was done in a month and after that product evolution and marketing started simultaneously.

Did you have a marketing plan in place when you started?

No, I did not have any plan. It was very organic without any plan whatsoever.

Who do you pitch your product to in a company?

Marketing analysts. Our target customer is a person who actually does the A/B tests.

I remember you mentioned on your Mixergy interview that you didn’t want the world to know that you were a one-man show to begin with. Was it difficult to look like a credible company that way? And was that an even bigger issues being an Indian product company?

No, it wasn’t difficult. As long as they were getting a good product and quick service, the customers didn’t care to verify whether it was a one-man show or a 100-people company. Interestingly, many people still don’t know we’re an Indian company.

As Visual Website Optimizer grew, how have you scaled up your marketing? Increased frequency in terms of content? Bigger campaigns? Targeting higher-value customers for your enterprise plan? Also, how have you scaled up your team to take care of these activities?

A bunch of things. Increased frequency from one post per week to two on our blog. Parallel guest posting. Making guides and dedicated landing pages for SEO. Comprehensive retargeting. Started PPC and display to measure ROI. I don’t think marketing should aim to target higher-value customers. They probably need a lot more offline interaction, so marketing works on nurturing them currently.

On the people side, we scaled it by bringing in additional super-smart people. Including me, right now we have a team of three. We’re looking to expand it by adding three more people. Yes, now we have a plan and going forward clearly defined roles in content marketing, generalist tasks, paid marketing and design.

What marketing channels have you used? What has been the most effective for you? Why have they been so effective?

Most effective has been our own case studies and comprehensive guest posts in prominent publications such as Smashing Magazine, SEOMoz, CopyBlogger, MarketingProfs, etc. We also nurture our user base by regularly sending them case studies and use cases.

What about paid channels? How do you go about choosing the right ones? 

We’re still learning on this, but the key is to explore new paid marketing channels that haven’t been exploited yet. All good paid marketing channels dry up ultimately and ROI dwindles. So you have to be on the edge of exploration. That’s how markets work.

How do you measure the success of your marketing campaigns? Do you compare them to your other campaigns? Industry benchmarks? Or just get an overall feel whether they are successful or not?

The only metric our marketing cares about is number of free trials. I believe that once free trial is generated, product should speak for itself so revenue should be a function of product if free trials are from the intended audience. Shares, visits, etc. are all fluff. We don’t obsess about them. We do compare all our activities to see which one gives most bang for the buck and most volume.

How do you use VWO to improve your own conversion rates? What are the top 2-3 biggest successes you have had from A/B testing?

We conduct many tests. Some examples:


Behavioral targeting: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/behavioral-targeting-case-study/

Heatmaps: http://visualwebsiteoptimizer.com/split-testing-blog/increase-conversions-using-heatmaps/


Right now, five different tests are running on our website :)

Apart from the A/B tests, what other numbers do you look up on the website? Funnel drop-offs, bounce rate, what else do you look at?

Navigation paths and traffic sources with highest conversion rate.

I love the blog you have. How did that get started? And how do you measure its impact?

I love writing. Have written a book on Nihilism, so I can write whole day long :) Impact, was measured in terms of traffic to blog and then conversion of that traffic to trials.

What kind of community do you have around your products? How do you keep them engaged?

We have a very lively community on Twitter, GPlus, Facebook and our blog. We have 3000+ followers, 2000+ blog readers and remember that A/B testing is a niche. In terms of content, again case studies with actual learning work best. Just numbers without flesh doesn’t work.

What about partnerships and integrations? ClickTale, Drupal, how have they helped you increase your reach? How did you go about getting them?

Yes, partnerships increase reach if done properly. For commercial companies like ClickTale, they approached us. For open-source like Drupal, we simply developed modules.

What about your personal brand? Have you built that and used it to take the word out about your products in turn?

Yes, I think so. My blog and interviews such as on Mixergy help a lot. Our bootstrapped story helps a ton too.

What about the marketing team? How big is it and what roles do each of them play? What do you think is an ideal marketing team for a tech startup?

Ideal marketing team is: content, paid, generalist and designer.

We have a lot of good products being built in India but very few go on to become blockbusters. Where do you think these startups are faltering with their marketing? What advice do you have for them?

I think they do a very poor job on using the content effectively. My advice would be to product great content consistently, share it with influencers, build a brand of the company around content and eductation and just keep scaling that up.

That’s some great advice Paras. Thanks a lot for sharing them and being an inspiration to the Indian startup community at large.

Dear readers, what did you think of the interview? What else would you like to know when I talk to more successful startups about their marketing? Let me know in the comments.

Reblogged from PokeandBite.com

How To Do Pricing For Enterprise Sales #PNMeetup

Pricing is a mix of art science. Most product startups have a hard time figuring out their revenue model (freemium or, paid only) and what they should charge. If you chose freemium, you have to be careful that cost of incremental customer is low and it will be great, if this customer also helps spread the word about you. On the other hand, if you choose paid, you run the risk of having minimal traction, especially if your sales cycle is long and complex.
In either of the business models, you need to have clarity on who your customer is, what they are really looking for, does it have a direct impact on creating additional revenue or, eliminate inefficiencies and what your competitors are charging and why. Is your sales cycle long or, short? In a product company, you expect to cover the cost from multiple customers and not just one. However, most businesses falter as they fail to take into account the cost related to acquiring paid customers and customer service.

All being said, do remember that for most companies, pricing is an evolution as your product is.

You will hear from our experts on how they went about pricing their products and what if any adjustments they made along the way based on their learning.

– Tushar Bhatia – (EmpXTrack) Saigun Technologies
– Varun Shoor – Kayako.com
– Prashant Singh – TheSignals

#PNMeetup is an initiative by ProductNation and is meant for Entrepreneurs, Product Startups, Product Managers in the NCR Region. Here you can share, learn and network with fellow Product Managers and also discuss new trends innovations, get feedback on prototypes and insights from experienced people in the industry.

The objective of #PNMeetup is to provide each attendee with practical skills and knowledge that they can put into practice tomorrow to improve the products they bring to market, enhance their companys success and further their own careers. Some of the people supporting this initiative are: Amit Ranjan(Slideshare), Arvind Jha(Movico Technologies), Jainendra Kumar(Pitney Bowes), Pawan Goyal(Adobe), Rajat Garg(SocialAppsHQ), R. P. Singh(Nucleus Software), Vivek Agarwal(Liqvid eLearning).

These meetups will be done on Third Saturdays of the month and will include an opportunity for professional networking. If you would like to volunteer and make a difference to the Product Eco-system in NCR, do send us a mail at volunteerpn.ispirt.in

Supporting Partners:
Indian Product Management Association, Institue of Product Leadership, Delhi Startups, TLabs, The Hatch, Startup Saturday. Ignita

Limited seating and registrations is strictly for Product Startups and Product Managers. No onsite registrations will be allowed. Register Now to avoid disappointment. This is a closed event and If selected you will get the confirmation for the event.

Kunzum Travel Cafe: Address: T-49, GF, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, Delhi 110016

5 Indian companies that get marketing

Indians have been known to be poor marketers for long, especially when it comes to taking products to the world. It is easy to blame the lack of good management schools for this but there are a whole lot of other softer aspects at play – limited exposure to different cultures around the world, limited hobbies with watching pirated movies being the favorite one, poor taste in things proven by the fact that Chetan Bhagat still writes and the lack of a sense of humor. And it gets even worse in the tech world where talking to a screen for sixteen hours ensures normal conversation skills are gone out of the window too. But the good news is things are changing. The last 2-3 years have seen a bunch of companies who know better than to put lame plugs in every forum they can lay their hands on, and blast emails starting with “Dear Sirs/Madam.”

This post brings to you 5 Indian startups and small businesses that really get marketing. These are companies that have been able to cut through the noise and claim their rightful positions in the market. These are your new homegrown marketing heros.

Visual Website Optimizer (Wingify) #1

Visual Website Optimizer is in the business of selling A/B testing tools to help marketers increase sales and conversions. When it comes to their own marketing, they don’t do anything different or fancy. They just focus on getting the basics right and measure it down to the smallest decimal. Then they play around with the page heading, call-to-action buttons, microcopy and measure it again. Rinse and repeat.

What they get right:

  • Clean website that explains the product, builds credibility and leads the user to try it out instantly.
  • Obsession with numbers. For every feature and success story, they mention how they increased conversions by 137% rather than over 100% or multiple times.
  • Excellent blog with fundamentals of A/B testing, case studies from varying domains and enough sparks to get the reader to try out their own tests.

What they don’t (aka unsolicited advice):

  • The sea of numbers gets a little too mechanical at times and Visual Website Optimizer could bring a more human touch to their communications. The homepage could tuck in an image of actual people using their product. Ditto for their banners which just have their tagline slapped on them. Also their blog posts need to have the author names displayed prominently so the readers know whom to address in the comments. People connect to people, not to some faceless entity.

Zomato #2

Zomato is India’s largest restaurant guide. For them, a major part of their marketing is done by the product itself. A clean interface, comprehensive restaurant info and in-depth reviews by passionate foodies makes this the goto destination for everything food. I have made sure to pass on the word to all fellow foodies and gluttons.

What they get right:

  • The social aspects they introduced recently with a foodie leaderboard of sorts, an option to follow other foodies and trending restaurants. I call myself a foodie on most of my online bios but have never written a restaurant review. Now with the added incentive, I sat down to write a couple of my own reviews and started following people who I see have similar tastes.
  • The rebranding from Foodiebay to Zomato. It allowed them to expand into other verticals without the name being a constraint, and kept legal troubles with eBay at bay.
  • Their events and contests. While I haven’t participated in any of them, I can see a lot of buzz on Facebook every time there is one happening.

What they don’t:

  • Blog. Have you ever clicked on the prominent blog link from their main navigation? It takes you to a blog talking about their learnings along the startup journey. Now people come to Zomato to know more about restaurants and food, not about startups. They should have a blog talking about the new hotspots in the city, dishes to try out, restaurant reviews and overall trends from the world of food. Funny thing is they do have another blog calledZomato Crunch talking about a bunch of the topics I mentioned, but it gets no love from the main website. I don’t remember how I chanced upon it and have to google the name to get there every time.
  • Twitter over-flooding. A lot of people ask Zomato for restaurant recommendations when they are in a new city or want to discover more places to eat. Zomato just re-tweets it out and during the weekends, it ends up clogging my timeline. So here’s what I would suggest – Link to content on Zomato Crunch from the main handle and have another handle for helping fellow foodies with restaurant recommendations, maybe even different ones for different cities.
  • Banner ads. Zomato was able to beat Burrp at the food game owing to their cleaner interface. However, with multiple ads slapped on the right panel every time you are checking out a restaurant (and most of them are yuck!!) this will come in the very way of what got them to ramp up so quickly. Of course they need to make money for which they could either do sponsored listings, or go the Google Adwords way.

Cleartrip #3

Cleartrip is another company where the product does the talking. Every time I have to book an air ticket, it’s straightaway Cleartrip for me. I don’t even bother checking any other place.

The funny part about Cleartrip’s marketing is I haven’t seen them market their product at all. Their blog talks about a couple of TV ads but the only time I have seen them are on their YouTube channel. They focus on making their product simpler every single day and that’s what they talk about on their blog and Twitter. And they have been able to build quite a fanfare going that route.

What they get right:

  • Positioning. In an industry where everyone has been screaming “Save 30%, DISCOUNT!!!, Rs 1500/- off” for years, they have been able to carve a niche for themselves targeting business travelers and developing loyal customers (don’t really have numbers on this but I am sure there are more people like me).
  • Twitter timing strategy. Every time they have something new to tweet about, you will see 2-3 tweets coming from their account one after the other. All of them are re-worded versions of the same tweet, but this tactic ensures that you are not going to miss the tweet as you scroll down your timeline.
  • No junk emails. In an industry where constant emails talking about discounts to places I never want to go to are the norm, Cleartrip again stands apart. I have never received an email from them that I wasn’t expecting. And the emails that I get are very nicely done.

What they don’t:

  • SEO. If you google for “flight tickets”, even Cleartrip throws “free”, “cheap”, “save 15%” in the paid results and more surprisingly in the organic ones too. While they say these SEO tactics are working well for them, they could probably do better leveraging the Cleartrip brand name and mentioning how easy it is to book tickets with Cleartrip.

Freshdesk #4

Freshdesk provides help desk software, a crowded space having bigger players like Zendesk and Desk.com. But with the right marketing stunts (and I guess a good product), they have been able to create their own space in the market. Their biggest stunt came when a cloud analyst Ben Kepes called them a Zendesk rip-off just because of the “desk” in their name. The Zendesk CEO joined in the attack too and then one of Kepes’ Twitter followers called them a bunch of Indian cowboys. Freshdesk created a separate website detailing these blows, mentioning that they are proud Indians and talking about how Freshdesk outshines Zendesk. The entire incident made Hacker News glory too. Since then, Freshdesk has kept at it and is now a popular name in the help desk space.

What they get right:

  • Keep true to their name. All their communications have the element of freshness liberally sprinkled through them. Their blog supposedly gets you “Your daily dose of peppermints, orange juice and oatmeal cookies” and they have a whitepaper…err green paper…called “Is your support team ready for a zombie apocalypse?” And no, they are not wannabe attempts at being cool. They are cool.
  • Positioning. Have positioned themselves as an underdog rival against the mightier Zendesk, they are able to generate excellent media coverage for themselves.

What they don’t:

  • Discounts. Their website has so many “discounts” and “free” slapped all around that you are bound to ask for one even if their product is the best thing since sliced bread. Also playing too heavily on the discounts angle makes it look like the product is inferior.
  • Website navigation. There were a bunch of times when I had no idea which section of the website was I in, or what was I supposed to do next. The different navigation structures at the top and bottom certainly don’t help, and neither does the absence of breadcrumbs.

??? #5

I cheated. I am only going to give you four companies that get marketing. You, my friend, give me one.

Which Indian company do you admire for their marketing? The idea is not just to create the initial big bang, but to be at it regularly measuring and improving as you go along. If that company is yours, don’t be shy. Just be ready to explain why. Over to you.

Original post can be accessed at Pokeandbite.com