Beyond Google Search – The Platforms For The Internet of Actions

Beyond Google Search – The Platforms For The Internet of Actions

The below post is edited from an answer given to ET for this story. This article is 2 yr old. Republished today.

The rise of Mobile is a big shift in the way Internet is used, thereby influencing commerce over the Internet. In developed economies it is the desktop based users who have started spending a significant amount of time on mobile. For India specifically, mobile is bringing in lot of first time Internet users.

Given that Google Search is not the default starting point on mobile, there is a void waiting to be filled as the platform of the mobile internet. No, Android/iOS is not it. There are 3 services that I believe can be the platform of the mobile internet viz. maps, payments and delivery. Before looking into each of them, the hypothesis here is that the Internet of mobile is no longer about serving information but it is about enabling actions. So what happens to information related stuff? They will move to a Chat like app with a command prompt like interface. It is already happening with Wechat, Line etc. Search would be easier over chat with results showing bite-size info in cards, the blue-link click is only required to dive deeper. Why chat and not current Google search? Because the current Google search is a state-less communication. Two consecutive searches do not relate to each other. The command prompt type interface serving bite-size info will need to be state aware, just like human communication.

The 3 platforms:


In the long term, Maps are going to be default page for most of our local needs, like movies, cabs, handyman or anything related to offline commerce. Different reports suggest that about 40-50% of all mobile search is local. Instead of a page with blue links, maps will become our search engine on mobile. China is already seeing this change with Baidu Maps driving all-things-local. Google Maps also recently integrated Uber to show estimated pickup time if you have uber installed ( When you have more than 1 cab app installed, Google Maps will influence which one you choose. In the long run it will also mean that you will not need to install the app but the app will just be backend integrated with Google Maps.

Users currently find it easier to search for “Zomato Pizza Hut” on Google and then go to Zomato’s Pizza Hut page, as compared to first going to, and then searching for “Pizza Hut”. In the same way, people will not look for a cab on a map inside Ola or Uber’s app, instead Ola and Uber’s cabs will be visible together on a single instance of Google Map.

The future of mobile local search is Apps on Map, and not maps inside apps. Just like now we don’t need to bookmark every restaurant site on the web browser, in future we may not need to install every cab booking app. This is the most important and defensible product of Google in the long term. Individual Apps as an interface is an intermediary stage of the mobile evolution until platform level aggregation and deep integration does not come into action again.


We do not see payments as a platform because it is generally not the starting point or in most cases we don’t even realize if it has an interface. It just happens, and that is how it is supposed to be. Apple and Samsung are working towards that. In India, the wallet feature in apps is being accepted. Mobile carriers and large banks are trying to get into the space. Paytm seems to be moving fastest in this space though. There are still licenses to be issued in this space by RBI and rightly so because this space is more about enabling trust and insurance, the core of commerce, than anything else.

Indian consumers do not relate to payment systems and insurance directly, but in developed economies one can ask their credit card company for a complete refund if the service by a vendor is not satisfactory. So they not only act as a credit and payment company but also an insurance company. Being on a universal trusted payments platform will mean more business. Micro-transaction will happen over a payments app and each little vendor need not have their own app with payment gateway. I should be able to use a plumber’s service and pay via a payments app that both of us use.


Delivery of physical goods is a big platform opportunity. What we generally see as an ecommerce company is a delivery company. A lot of commerce, new and used, B2C and C2C, is being limited by the physical movement of goods. While intercity delivery is controlled by large courier companies, the hyper local delivery of goods is still an unsolved problem. Uber is dominant in this space for people movement and now starting for food but their platform doesn’t yet allow movement of small goods from B2C or C2C. In India, Delyver and Grofers are trying to capture this space. Entering the C2C delivery space will be a big move for them. It’s human delivery network now but from what we see, it will evolve into a drone network.

Freshdesk’s Customer Happiness Tour : Gurgaon – Redefining the Customer Service Experience

In the last few years, a lot of things have changed about the way we do business. For one thing, customer happiness is no longer an accessory to companies. It has become the matter of the hour influencing every aspect of a business, from the way we build the product to the way we support customers. Brands are finding it increasingly important to go the “extra mile” with their customer experience in order to stay relevant. And those that are winning aren’t playing it safe.

The Customer Happiness Tour, a one-of-a-kind event, is an effort to bring together like-minded customer service professionals to discuss strategy, share stories, tips and tricks, and effectively crack the “code” to customer happiness. Fueled by insights drawn from the experience and challenge of being a customer-centric brand, these discussions range over a varied number of topics, covering the entire spectrum of the customer experience. We’ve travelled the world with it, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo and Paris to Amsterdam, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring it to India!

Why CHT:Gurgaon?

The Gurgaon edition will bring together India’s biggest customer-centric brands to talk about why customer service is important in running a business. With a fantastic line up of speakers from Amazon, Flipkart, Urban Ladder, Hike and Myntra, the event will serve as a unique first-hand point of view into the stories of businesses that are rewriting the customer service experience in India.

CHT Gurgaon BannerIf you are a leader or a part of an organization who puts a premium on customer experience, this event is for you. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to meet, talk, network and trade notes with leaders from India’s biggest brands and hottest startups including Zomato, Yatra, CaratLane, PolicyBazaar and the Oberoi Group of Hotels.

How can you be a part of this event ?

CHT:Gurgaon will be hosted at the Leela Ambience on October 9th from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Register for the event here with the discount code CHT25G to avail a special deal exclusive to iSPIRT community



Show Me The Money

Who doesn’t remember the famous four words of the 1996 film Jerry Maguire? The relevance of these words encompasses all generations. We look at the rich and mighty with a hint of jealousy, sometimes incredulously , some other times in awe, yet other times perturbed. On the other hand, the poor and downtrodden are subjugated to our pity, dissidence, even repulsion.

Now that makes one thing very clear- more or less or none, but money has the power to trigger our insides.

My husband and I abide by our morning ritual of reading the good,the bad and the ugly, hidden in the dull text of black ink, spread accurately on those beautifully blending 20 crisp peachy pages; unravelling the mystery of this world layer by layer with every sip of our invigorating morning tea. A ritual so intellectually stimulating , consequential in further bonding, has now become a regular phenomenon. Every morning, the message is the same– business ecosystem in its finest form, the mood of the start-ups at its optimistic best. Such positive reinforcements does uplift our spirits but it bewilders us too.

Modi Ji’s “Make In India” mantra began to unfold with the conception of India’s biggest e-commerce space- FLIPKART, by the Bansal duo. And with it started a revolution that took the entire nation by surprise. Since the beginning of last year, every other day(if not every day) ET reflects such a luminous picture of our economy. And the chunk of this positivity comes from the exhilarating news of one start-up after another. Either they have raised a colossal amount in funding, or they have had a path-breaking M&A, or they have been subjected to overwhelming(read ‘obnoxious) valuations.

These recurrent success stories have given birth to a new breed of entrepreneurs- the “COPY CATS” who are mindlessly jumping the bandwagon. They think they have cracked the code behind the success of these new age companies. The keywords are countable- IIT, IIM , e-commerce, m-commerce, angel investor- blend one element with another or all, and your magical potion is ready. And this potion is so potent that it affirms success against all odds. Zomato, TaxiForSure, Flipkart, Snapdeal, ZoRooms- all have been founded by IIT/IIM alumni.

The “me-too” entrepreneurs have a flawless design ready to trap potential investors. The code is a no-brainer though; project a high traction metamorphosing into more investors, subsequently larger funds, perfectly ending into higher valuation.

The silver lining,however, is that crony capitalism is fading and a new crop of optimistic entrepreneurs is mushrooming. No longer you need to be a TATA or an AMBANI to dream big. The new age start-ups and their success stories have infused a new confidence in today’s generation. They can dare to dream, and that too big. Now that’s one promising change in our country’s antediluvian thinking where a farmer’s son could only dream of becoming a farmer, a teacher’s son only a teacher. It is this promising environment that allowed the 18 year old college drop-out from Orissa in 2011 to venture into an unknown territory and build today’s famous OYO rooms in 2013. He’s been in limelight recently for having raised an elephantine amount($100 million) from Japan’s Soft Bank. This definitely is an extremely positive outcome of this start-up culture where no longer fears detain you in realising your truest potential.

Have the zeal, And crack the deal.

The definition of success is,however, very unique to this breed. Ideally a successful business should generate large revenues, handsome profits,employ large no: of people and make a social impact. While a few of these new age start-ups fulfil most of these criteria, the most profound aspect of running any business is not met. Yes, I am talking about PROFIT(in BOLD letters).

Flipkart, Snapdeal, Zomato, are few such organisations worthy of enviable valuations with no profits. If I may elaborate no profits as “million dollar losses”.

SP-CP=Profit, a formula that even my 10 year old understands is of no consequence to the companies of the likes of Flipkart or Snapdeal. We have grown up in an era of brick-and-motor companies. Making purchases online is still an alien concept to me. But what exists pan any business, culture, economy,era is one and only one thing- Profitability. In the quest for scale, profitability is taking a beating. Achieving traction by offering tantalising discounts doesn’t suffice zero profitability.

This is where Media plays the devil’s advocate. It craftily masks the “no-profit” feature of these companies and celebrates their “valuations” (all on paper). It shrewdly creates a larger than life image of these new-age entrepreneurs. It chooses to present to the audience what it wishes them to see and read; featuring them on cover page of leading business papers and magazines. As a result it creates a superficial success story that revolves around raising funds and basking in multi-million valuations. The bigger the funding, the bigger the legend-like stature, the crazier the media frenzy. This creates an environment where these “real” heroes are worshipped by the aspirational youth who are totally smitten by their relentless journey.

What everyone overlooks,however, is the sustainability of these companies who are riding on investor’s money and the dubious mechanism of discounts. And when these companies start to decline in their valuations, it this media that will rip them apart so brutally, so mercilessly.

So does that mean that media shouldn’t give credit where its due? That it shouldn’t encourage and celebrate those who dared to dream, who dared to give a form to their entrepreneurial spirit? Of course it should. It must applaud those took the risks, it must boost their morale, it must glorify their achievements. But it should refrain from painting a picture so perfect.

VCs who today are messiahs to these burgeoning start-ups are enjoying the spectacle with much aplomb. Every time they agree to fund, they gain significant media attention which heightens the public interests manifolds. These VCs are the ultimate gainers in this entire game plan as they create such a promising and utopian environment, thereby painting a surreal picture for these companies, while on an alert all through to making opportunistic exits. They are clever enough to bathe by the bank of this crocodile pond but will never swim in it. An entrepreneur is so enamoured by the VC culture that he fails to read between the lines and accepts the terms so faithfully; in most cases ends up getting short end of the stick. A recent example of this would be when Lane Becker and two of his co-founders sold their $50 million customer service company ‘GetSatisfaction’ to Sprinklr. He unabashedly claimed how the arrangement was nothing short of a fire sale where the VCs happily devoured the chunk of the pie leaving a tiny morsel for the founders.

My learning:”Get investor at your own risk”.

The sharp drop in valuations of new-age ventures in the US and China should be a wake up call for the Indian counterparts. Yelp, a US based restaurant search and review venture, lost its valuation by $5.9 billion from a year ago. The survival of its Indian “me-too” company Zomato which is barely 4% of Yelp’s revenues but a whooping 58% of its valuation, worries me aplenty. Market is going to correct soon and when it does it will take all these new-found companies by storm.

Who has seen tomorrow? How can these valuations be based on what will happen 10 years hence? The promise of tomorrow does not take into account future disruptions or new competition entering the marketplace.As Peter Thiel rightly captures the essence in his book-‘Zero To One’ by stating that companies may create a lot of value, without becoming valuable itself. In same breath he also states that most of a tech company’s value will come only in 10-15 years in future. Mystery of what lies ahead coupled with a loss-making present is indeed alarming. The prime objective of any business is Profit, and it should be given a rightful significance and not allow these insane valuations to steal the show. All this boils down to one and only one understanding-

Business is in profitability,

not in valuations…

Its in sustainability,

not discount mechanisms…

On paper all seems rosy,

But somebody has got to ‘SHOW ME THE MONEY’!!!!

Guest Post by Megha Chopra, Director/Board Member, Rategain

Over seven seas: Why Indian companies are increasingly going global

NEW PRODUCT-3While there are no numbers or research on how many Indian startups have global operations, I suspect it will be a sizeable number – a number that is growing every month and every year. No longer are Indian startups content in serving merely the domestic market, this new breed of startups and entrepreneurs consider the world as their market.

This, however, is not something that has happened overnight. We see a considerable number of Indian companies like Zoho, InMobi, Zomato going global and one consistent theme is that the entrepreneurs have some sort of a global stint. A recent report said that in China, 5 out of 10 billionaires are Internet billionaires and the common thread is that they have all studied or had stints in the US.

I feel a lot of us in India have the global context, having studied or worked or having both those experiences. Global context enables us to understand what market opportunities exist and the emerging trends throughout the world. To build a global company you need to have a global perspective and you need people at the top who think that way.

The second big pointer is the evolution of the Indian IT industry. When we started the revolution of IT services in 1990s with companies like HCL, Wipro and Infosys, it was all about labour arbitrage and how to get things done in a cheaper, better and more efficient way in India. Now that story has been beaten to death and people are more aware of what services companies are doing in the context of the opportunities that exist globally. Hence, instead of being a mere back end provider, people want to move up the value chain. People understand the opportunities and are now questioning why they can’t go out and address it.

Business today is borderless and in a global economy, boundaries have blurred and opportunities can be tapped across the globe. The intermingling of cultures and people on a very large scale has meant that whenever anyone thinks of any opportunity it is very easy to think about it as a global opportunity. Previously the thought process was limited to the market size of the domestic market.

For example, when we talk about selling to the travel and hospitality industry, we think about how many hotels exist globally and how many airlines operate across the world. The globalized nature of what we do today makes it much easier to implement ideas. There may still be some friction in the system, but today it is relatively easy to have the world as your playground.

It is also the question of market size. Although the 1.2 billion dollar home market may be a very big market, operating globally gives you a much bigger market size. Take for example the fact that 300 million tourist travel domestically, but the travel and hospitality market in India is fragmented. As a result the organized hospitality industry has about 120,000 rooms. New York alone has 120,000 rooms.

For us as a B2B player, we have to go where the marketplace is more mature. India today is as small as New York for us. Globally, we have 500,000 hotels and 500 airlines cater to. Even product companies that started with a notion of serving the domestic market have now gone global. It is also the case that if you are successful overseas, the domestic market tends to you accept you faster. Druva, Zoho are very good examples of that.

The ticket size for everything is much more globally. If a company sells something for a minimum ticket size of 10,000 dollars globally in India one has to sell it for 5000 $. The cost of operation for most of these companies, whether they sell domestically or globally, remains the same and any marginal increase is the cost of sale. Just by selling overseas, even for a small incremental change in cost, the company enjoys a much larger margin. It makes much more economic sense to go overseas, which means the opportunity size is much larger.

By going global Indian companies are writing a new chapter in how the world perceives us. Many of them are the future billion dollar companies and will serve to be great ambassadors of the are “Made in India” campaign that our Prime Minister has embraced.. With every globally successful company, India is creating role models for others to emulate.

On that age old debate, Bootstrapping Vs Venture Capital

“The best way to do something ‘lean’ is to gather a tight group of people, give them very little money, and very little time.” – Bob Klein, chief engineer of the Grumman F-14 program.

I first came upon this quote on Paul Graham’s website, and it always intrigued me, the small detail about the money – it could be little or a lot, but money is a factor, and a very important factor at that.

Bob Klein’s F-14 program is now legendary in aviation history; the Tomcat was one of the airplanes I was familiar with even in the Indian Air Force circles of the 90’s. Designed to fulfill duties both as a air superiority fighter as well as a naval interceptor, the F-14 Tomcat was easily one of the greatest airplanes ever built then, and Bob Klein did it, as he said, by keeping it fast and cheap.

Bootstrapping or Venture Capital

So is that the blueprint to build something amazing and meaningful? To just sit down, tighten your belt and do it, what we call bootstrapping, or is embracing the stability of venture capital a better way?

It’s an important question in the context of the product startup, and I believe there’s no right and wrong answer to it.

Last week, in a conversation with iSPIRT’s co-founder Sharad Sharma, this topic came up and proceeded to lay claim our entire discussion. When these days a bootstrapped startup is seen as something of an aberration, and scale is seen as validation, Sharad maintained that there’s no formula here; both these paths can lead to success, if followed with caution and perseverance.

Quoting Sharad –

“When you are building something that hinges on a market prediction, that so and so market will be worth so and so in 2025, and you want to be there to fill that gap, then VC funding for the idea and for you is probably the way to go. But if you have no such idea or bet on the future for what you are building; it’s much more experimental (which is ok, that’s how innovation happens), then bootstrapping might make better sense, even if just for the sake of flexibility and more control.”

I could find no reason to disagree.

The Zoho Example

The success of Zoho, the poster child for the bootstrapped product startup, is now quite well known. And all of it with not a penny in external funding. The company is growing, has always been growing, and has just announced a bold move to make one of its flagship products completely free. These are big decisions, made strategically and with a much larger gameplan. Zoho has always stood for something, and its clear, unmuddled decision making has been one of its strengths through the years.

Would Zoho have been able to make such decisions if a member of its board was an investor? Perhaps, but not very likely.

Which I think is significant. What ails the ecosystem these days is a ‘go big or go home’ attitude that typically results in an organization and a product that scales far ahead of its time, resulting in chaos and sometimes even graver problems. Zoho didn’t fall into that trap, it took its own time, and now stands tall as an organization.

Sometimes VC money, though a huge competitive advantage, can come with its own baggage, and the pressure of having to execute something extraordinary all the time can weigh down on doing what actually needs to be done.

But sometimes that baggage is exactly what you want.

The Zomato Story

When Deepinder Goyal started Zomato off, he certainly would not have known that the product he was building, a restaurant review and recommendations site that is today used in 40 cities across the world, would change the entire landscape of eating out. He would have had a vision, but of course he could never have knows what exact shape his business was taking. But he knew he had something; he raised funding. Venture capital stood him up as he expanded hard and fast and cool. It was great to watch.

Would Zomato have been able to scale the way it did without venture capital? The answer is an emphatic no. The awesomeness of the Zomato model rested on its ability to execute, and they did it magnificently well; waiting was something Zomato could not have afforded anyway.

In this case, the VC prerogative to execute fast and hard tied in perfectly with what Zomato itself wanted to do. What resulted is Zomato’s incredible success as a platform, a lovely example of using funding to take an idea big.

“There is no formula”

Again, though, Sharad put in a word of caution – it all depends. This may be a good rule of thumb but there is no formula. Product startups are all different from each other, and what works for one is not at all guaranteed to work for another.

And this is when it struck me that there’s a third category here as well, the perfect example of which is that darling of the younger generation, Instagram.

The Instagram Model

Instagram started out as Burbn, a location sharing app with the option of taking a photo thrown in, but then pivoted to the unbelievably successful photo sharing app we know. And they were funded from the beginning by Andreessen Horowitz and Baseline Ventures.

So here’s a venture funded company, which was trying to build something purely ‘social’ and ‘viral’ in parlance, and the VC’s let them experiment to an extent as to change the focus of the product itself. This is the third kind, the company which adds the no-commitments freedom of bootstrapping to the competitive advantage of venture capital, and becomes a sort of hybrid, absorbing the good in both approaches and ridding itself of the bad.

An important point here is that Instagram never really had a monetization plan in the first place (other companies like this include Tumblr, Twitter, Foursquare, and so on). Positioned for acquisition because of the exponential increase in their user base, they could tread this middle ground with the confidence of knife edged focus.

WhatsApp also did something similar. When Jan Koum and Brian Acton started working full time on WhatsApp, they already had $250000 in funding from friends, which meant that they had the freedom to innovate and at the same time had the stability of capital.

The Last Word

In 1986, Tony Scott’s Top Gun hit the silver screen, in which a young man called Tom Cruise flew a F-14 Tomcat to box office glory and superstardom. The immediate aftermath was that the US Armed Forces were overwhelmed with young people wanting to sign up for service, so much so that the US Navy opened recruitment desks outside cinema halls.

The Tomcat became the symbol of a generation, the high of the air and the allure of uniform combining to give an era its own narrative. And it was exhilarating.

It was a small team that built it. With the entire might of Grumman (later Northrop Grumman) behind them, Bob Klein could have done it in any way he wanted, but he and his team chose the best way for the specific thing they wanted to do, and executed.

And that’s exactly what we can learn from them – that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question, and the ecosystem should encourage bootstrapping as as much of a viable pathway to growth as venture capital.

As for the startup, it should choose wisely.

Deepinder Goyal of Zomato on “ethics, respect, attitude and skill”

Deepinder Goyal is the founder and CEO of Zomato, India’s first online food guide to go global. Founded in 2008, Zomato recently raised Rs. 227 crore from Sequoia Capital and InfoEdge in one of the largest funding rounds for a consumer internet company in India. This deal values the company at over Rs 900 crore ($150 million) and has “best positioned” Goyal “to build a formidable global internet company out of India.” Prior to founding Zomato, Goyal was a management consultant at Bain and Company. He holds an integrated masters in Mathematics and Computing from IIT Delhi.

This post was conducted by Innovate Delhi, a three-week long academy that works with aspiring entrepreneurs to hone their skills in innovation, team-building, and strategy. Applications are due on 1st February at

[Innovate Delhi] What prompted you to start Zomato? What made a graduate from one of the most prestigious colleges in the country working at one of the prestigious companies in the world start a restaurant discovery website and mobile app?

[Deepinder Goyal] Back in 2008, I was working at Bain and Company, one of the largest management consulting firms in the world. At Bain, I noticed that my colleagues used to line up to view the stack of restaurant menu cards in the cafeteria during lunch hour. There was a rule that you cannot take the menus to your desk since people generally ended up losing these menus causing inconvenience for everyone. Looking at the queue, and to save the trouble for everyone, I just scanned these menus cards and put them online for everyone to use. This small intranet website started getting a substantial number of hits from people within Bain. That is when we realized that we can build a business out of scanned menus. That is how Zomato was born.


You told your parents about your decision to quit Bain only after quitting. What was their initial reaction? As an entrepreneur, how important is having family on your side?
My parents don’t really think about things once they have happened. So when I told them that I had quit my job, their reaction was “Ok, whatever”. They asked me to tell them if things get difficult for me financially. My wife Kanchan has supported me right through – she is a big believer in Zomato. It is important having family’s support in your entrepreneurial pursuits. If one is focused on their goals, everything eventually falls into plan.

To preview out next interview with P Rajasekharan of v-shesh, we found out that he frequently brings his daughter to his office. Do you see yourself bringing your daughter to Zomato and blending your personal and professional lives?
I don’t know. I don’t plan such things. If it does happen, it will not be because I planned it to be that way. It will be because it has to be that way.

One thing that sets apart an Indian company from US-based companies is that Indians are willing to work harder. People here can and would work 24×7 to accomplish something. That’s the sort of advantage we have here in India in terms of people.

You believe in hiring “good people.” What has been the best and worst hiring decision you have made?
We look for qualities like ethics, respect, attitude and skill – in that order. Looking back, all the people that we have asked to leave have either failed at Level 1 (Ethics) or Level 3 (Attitude). Mostly at Level 3. Similarly, the best hiring decisions we have made have been in being able to identify people with energy, focus and persistence.

Deep Kalra, our first interview for the Innovate Delhi blog, told us that an entrepreneur should be ready to do anything and everything in the initial years. What have been some memorably crazy challenges that you have met and not met?
The major challenge we have faced so far has been making sure that we have covered each and every street in the cities where we launch and have information for each restaurant in the city. Ideas can sometimes matter less than the execution. Hiring the right people has also been a major challenge. When we hire, we try our best to ensure that people are cultural fits – skill alone does not cut it for us.

For global internet corporations too, India is now the preferred choice for new investments.

In your corporate and entrepreneurial journey, how do you think the Indian entrepreneurial space has evolved and what are the most promising trends today?
A lot has changed in India over the past few years. Let’s look at three things first: Start ups, venture capitalists (VCs) and the market. There are a lot of good start ups that we see nowadays. We have many role model firms and entrepreneurs today and people are looking up to these role models to build up their companies. The ecosystem has evolved quite a lot, though it still needs to do much more. In terms of VCs, there are many entry-stage and growth funds coming in and they are more willing now to take risks with their money than they were earlier. Thirdly, the local market has changed a lot. Earlier, consumers were very rare to find. But now, it’s relatively easy to hit scale.

One thing that sets apart an Indian company from US-based companies is that Indians are willing to work harder. People here can and would work 24×7 to accomplish something. That’s the sort of advantage we have here in India in terms of people.

Now with the growth of internet penetration with over 200 million Indians logging onto the internet, there is a huge opportunity for web-based start-ups in the consumer space. VC money flows to markets which have large problems to be solved with start ups solving them, India is one such market. For global internet corporations too, India is now the preferred choice for new investments.

One of our key goals for Innovate Delhi is to build a community of like-minded entrepreneurial individuals. To that end, how have you fostered and maintained your professional relationships throughout your career? How has the changed or evolved since you started Zomato?
Networking and building strong professional relationships is important for any entrepreneur. I have built a strong network over the years that has been very helpful. It always starts with alumni networks and grows from there.

If you were a judge at our program, what would be the top three qualities you will look for in an aspiring entrepreneur?
Focus and clarity on what needs to be achieved. It has been the one principle we have followed in everything at Zomato right from product to sales to hiring. Well, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Persistence and consistent effort are required in order to translate an idea into a business. Also, to follow through is important – to deliver on what you set out to do.

Well, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Persistence and consistent effort are required in order to translate an idea into a business.

This blog post was written by Sonal J Goyal for Innovate Delhi Entrepreneurship Academy. Innovate Delhi is a three-week long academy that works with aspiring entrepreneurs to hone their skills in innovation, team-building, and strategy. Applications are due on 1st February at


Learnings From Building A Consumer Facing Web Product

Before we got started with PriceBaba, both me and Tirthesh had almost zero experience of building a product. We are passionate about Internet and web services that create an impact. Building PriceBaba over the past two years has been a learning experience and we have been blessed to have some amazing friends who have guided us throughout the process. Here are a few learnings (while we still continue to learn and grow):

Developers cannot build in silos

To create a great product, it is great to hear feedback from the horse’s mouth. That is why our developers have a lot of interaction with our users directly. The best way to raise the product quality is to let your developers see the product in use.

We have also benefited by having the operations and dev teams sit next to each other. There is constant flow of feedback and developers accordingly iterate and prioritise their roadmap. All incoming user feedback is shared with the developers and content teams, thus everyone has sufficiently enough data points when debating new features and upgrades.

People don’t listen, keep repeating, keep listening

We often assume that communicating something once is enough to make the point. However a learning with PriceBaba has been that we need to recreate the importance of an approach repeatedly!

For example, most of our team has grown up using desktops. Especially developers who have also had pro systems with large screens and keyboards to work on. Thinking that mobile is the medium that majority of our users operate from isn’t a natural thought. Our thinking begins from a large screen while mobile remains an ‘optimisation’ task. It has taken a lot of unlearning and relearning for our team to adapt the thought of mobile first. Any new feature or interface has to be thought for mobile and tablet just as much as for desktop.

I relentlessly share our mobile usage numbers, industry reports and keep mentioning MOBILE as a keyword to my developers. They are listening and building a great mobile interface for PriceBaba 🙂

Mobile Mobile Mobile, but not Mobile App, Yet

While I already mentioned how important mobile is, we have often been tempted to build a mobile app. However we have consciously stuck to mobile web for several reasons.

Our product offering isn’t something that a user wants to use daily. In its current form, building an app would lead to very low repeat users and uninstalls. The way the app business works is that you get ‘x’ thousand downloads and a fraction of those would be active users. For an app like Zomato or Paytm this makes a lot of sense as repeat usage is very high; we love using them on a regular basis. But we need to evolve the value proposition of PriceBaba much more before we release an app.

Development resource is another big reason! While mobile is growing, mobile web is serving most use cases just fine. An app is good to show off on your resume, but not the need of the day in many scenarios (like ours). We like to focus our developer resources on the most crucial things first.

Manual first, Automate second

PriceBaba isn’t a usual technology startup. A large part of our work is to integrate offline retail with the internet. A lot of operations, back office and systems to manage the same has been built over the last two years.

Almost always we have begun our ground operations with manual work and then work towards automating them slowly. Doing things manually has allowed us to iterate quickly, learn more about our customers before making solutions and eventually prevent wasting development time.

We have realised that trying to automate things either before hitting a critical mass or a ceiling isn’t always a good idea. While we have made our mistakes of building things too early, for PriceBaba it has mostly worked better to do things manually and then automate once we have a better understanding of the landscape we operate in. Depending on the situation, you may well need to build systems in advance but do ask yourself if you can do better if it’s delay it a little.

Every feedback is not a new product feature

This is fairly simple and straightforward. Once you are out in the market there is a plethora of feedback that comes to you. Every single day users tell us what new features they want, experts suggest new cool stuff that we can do and our team brainstorms world-changing ideas while sipping tea every other day.

After a few cycles of jumping to every new cool looking feature and trying to develop it, we learnt that unless something is a really pressing need or would add significantly great value to our users, we shouldn’t launch it. That meant saying ‘no’ to adding new product categories, product reviews and some more features that are too early for us right now. We instead chose to focus on local prices and store locations; which is our key value proposition and narrowed down our focus on a single category that we could dominate.

We keenly listen to every feedback that comes our way, we note it, discuss it to death, but we don’t build it right away :). We have in fact removed a major feature few months back that we felt was half baked, needed lot of maintenance and served a very small fraction of our user base. This may sound cliche, but we are starting to learn how to say ‘NO’ to a lot of great sounding ideas.

Fake it, till you make it + an alternate to AB tests

This one is my favourites and we love doing it from time to time — adding fake buttons to our site. A simple way of testing if a new feature is worth adding to the site, we add a fake button on the site and measure how many people clicked it. It is a quick and dirty way to get a feeler of what will click with our users.

For a long time we had a fake ‘set price alert’ button on PriceBaba’s product pages. The same captured email IDs but sent them no alerts, for we had no backend built for that purpose. When we started to see significantly enough email IDs being entered everyday, we built and delivered that feature. We went an extra mile and added a SMS alert feature along with it. Today the SMS alerts are the most popular user interaction on the site.

We have often been suggested to do AB tests and we would eventually start doing that. However in early days when the user base is very small, we do a A>B>C test. We change a particular product attribute, measure user interaction and change it further if the results aren’t great. Most startups can afford to do that in the early days and move faster with their product.

Speed Is Crucial

We have learnt first-hand that speeding up your application can greatly improve usage. Earlier this year we saw a 25% spike in traffic overnight by just moving to a better hosting provider. On another occasion, removing a 300ms delay in our search’s auto suggestions saw a 60% increase in the number of searches by our users. While we wouldn’t claim to be the best in optimising for speed, a good part of our time has gone into learning and implementing ways to accelerate our page load speeds, thus improving user experience.

Disclaimer: My experiences are from building a consumer facing Internet product.

Guest Post by Annkur P Agarwal a retailer turned technology blogger who got bitten by the product bug recently. is a shopping research engine that helps consumers connect with small retailers. You can connect with him on twitter @annkur.

Design in Indian Startups

A brief look at the state of the Indian startup ecosystem from the lens of design and how well it is understood or misunderstood. How the next generation of the technology startups are battling the design challenge in a globally connected ecosystem for the right consumer audience.

According to Dave McClure the founding team of a startup should include the holy trinity of a hacker, hustler and a designer. In simple terms a dream team comprising of members responsible for the technology, business/marketing and the design. Dave is no stranger to entrepreneurship or India, and as the founding partner at 500Startups (internet startup seed fund and incubator program based in Mountain View, CA) each of their accelerator programs have seen interest and presence from a number of Indian startups.

“Holy trinity of hacker, hustler and a designer”

This then begets the question of what exactly is an “Indian startup”? Unlike Israel a nation known both for its military prowess and high-technology startups along with the fact that it has the highest per-capita VC investment in the world. Startups in India like the nation itself conform to no unifying sector or theme. On one hand we have Delhi based Langhar helping connect foodies with authentic home cooked local cuisines on the other we see SarkariExam a portal dedicated to helping people find government jobs. Even after applying the filter of technology and technology enabled startups with their constantly blurring boundaries in the internet & mobile space, the bandwidth of the spectrum is still large.

If one goes by the estimates of AngelList, a platform dedicated towards the startups and the investors; there are 1500+ startups in India. This by no mean implies that all of them would be independently successful or have a profitable exit. Many of them would eventually shut shop and might not even exist the next summer. Despite this uncertainty and the increasing belief of Indian founders in their idea have led to a rising entrepreneurial activity. Catering to everybody from the hyper local audiences to products specifically built for the customers abroad. Helping us establish the fact that there is no single way to explain or define as to what constitutes an Indian startup. If question of the Indian-ness wasn’t tough enough the attention to design has increased the complexity of the understanding manifold. Invariantly a handful of startups like Cleartrip (travel), Zomato (food), Paytm (payment) and Hike (messaging) have become the poster boys for the best designed products being built in and in certain cases for India. This then progresses us to our next challenge of “What is design in the context of the startups and what is the role of the designer?”

Depending upon who do you ask, one is bound to get various forms and interpretation of what constitutes design? Making it easy to complicate things for the humble hackers and the hustlers trying to fathom as to why their designer is unable to deliver in the face of the challenge for their startup. Going over from formal the definitions provided in academic institutions of design being ‘a noun and a verb’ to the one followed by design practitioners whereby they try to highlight the difference between “art and design”. One thing that emerges is that, design has been and will always remain at its core a form of problem solving.

“Design has been and will always remain at its core a form of problem solving”

Had things been as black and white as they seem we wouldn’t have startups explaining their design strategy in terms of the visual design. Or in the case they understand the value of design keep looking for that one mythical designer who could solve all their problems. With the ever changing relationship and interaction of humans with technology; and it’s constantly evolving nature the boundaries of what explicitly is the job of a designer or the hacker is quickly overlapping.

Take the case of Rasagy Sharma who after finishing his undergraduate degree in computer science & engineering joined a Bangalore based startup as their UX Designer. One of the first ‘design’ hires in the team comprising of hackers, leading him to explain his role to the people around him. If the challenge of understanding what exactly entails in these new design roles wasn’t tricky enough, Rasagy highlights the emerging debate of ‘Should designers code?’ “The answers vary from the extremes of ‘Designers can code and should code’ to ‘Designer cannot code and is not expected to code’ with a comfortable middle ground emerging in the form of ‘Designer can code but is not expected to code’ ” says Rasagy.

“Designer can code but is not expected to code”

But if there is no one designer who can solve all of the problems of the startups which range from visual design & interaction design to in certain cases industrial design; and finding the talent is tough. Then shouldn’t we see the limited resources of the startups being spent on the function (technology) than form (design and by extension user experience)? One of the most interesting theme to emerge while talking to a number startups as a part of the research was their unanimous agreement in pushing design forward for their product. Neeraj Sabharwal who heads the design at the Hyderabad based NowFloats quotes Tom Peters when he says “The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end of the process to ‘tidy up’ the mess, as opposed to understanding it’s a ‘day one’ issue and part of everything.” Even in the case where the technical founders thought of design as nothing more than a marketing gimmick they did approve of increasing the resources dedicated to certain design activities by either hiring talent or outsourcing the process. And putting the bill under what they felt was the ‘cost of customer acquisition’.

The cost of starting an internet business is decreasing by the year and in no other period of history have we seen more entrepreneurial activity than the present. Faced with the simple market forces of consumer choice, a positive user experiences is a simple measure of how efficiently the technology works to help the user achieve his goals. In a somewhat surprising trend that in hindsight makes perfect sense, some of the best designed startups being built in the country include a designer as a part of the founding or the founders atleast have the design aesthetics in place to drive things forward.

Eventifier is being built in the southern city of Chennai at The Startup Center. Eventifier helps keep all the social media chatter around an event including the conversation, photos, videos, presentation decks in a single place. They are one of the few startups using the hacker, hustler and the designer approach since the day they began. Mohammed Saud holds the mantle of the Chief Design Officer and one would give weight to his belief when he says “Being equally proficient in all facets of design even when their underlying principle might be the same is difficult.” His solution is the one that is increasingly becoming common, become proficient in one form of design yet understands the other well enough to guide somebody with your vision. A similar ideology was put forth by Arun Jay, who amongst a number of other claims holds the post of the principle designer at SlideShare and the senior UX designer at LinkedIn. By academic training Arun began as a communication designer but his experience with film making, photography and web based technologies makes him the ideal choice for the unicorn designers so many startups look for.

But it wouldn’t be fun if there weren’t a few startups breaking the mould. HealthifyMe and NowFloats are two startups which were a part of the Microsoft Accelerator program in Bangalore. On one hand we have Neeraj Sabharwal from NowFloats with no formal training in the various disciplines of design yet relying on his industry experience and understanding of design thinking principles to lead the charge. On the other we have Tushar Vashisht co-founder of HealthifyMe attributing the fact that “Lack of a dedicated designer in the founding team even with the team valuing design, cost them precious resources in the decision making and product building exercise. With HealthifyMe treating the user experience as an integral part of the product building process getting Rohan Gupta as a designer onboard has positively affected our shipping time.”

But believing that a well-designed product is the end all in the product building exercise would be plain naïve. Design is one of the integral processes amongst the host of other responsibilities held by the hustlers and the hackers which make a product successful. Brij Vaghani is the founder of live traffic monitoring service, Traffline which currently operates in three metropolitan cities. His team is working in close association with a design studio for the soon to be launching next version of their product. “Even though we understood the value of design, the founding team relied upon our core strengths of technology in the early stages of the product. An approach which we feel might have had an impact on the metrics we use to track the product success but something that was within permissible levels”

Where are we headed? Great design and technology have always existed. The founders are still looking for that elusive designer who can handle all their design problems, but as unicorns go those beings are still rare to find. The consumer internet is nearly twenty years old, the smartphone nearly six and the tablet less than four. Yet the potential of the startups building upon and specifically for these platforms is seeing an exponential growth. We haven’t even begun scratching the surface of the potential and can’t predict the trajectory of the startup economy in India serving an internal audience of a billion plus people and catering to those abroad. But the fact remains that the designers seem to have finally found a voice and Indian startups are rearing for them to go.

Author’s Note: This article was written for a collaborative publication: Create Change for Kyoorius Designyatra 2013 produced by Kyoorius and British Council, India and is a part of British Council’s design writing programme.

The post has been slightly modified for the web by adding of the appropriate hyperlinks to the startups and the resources mentioned to aide the reader. You can download the PDF version of the print magazine in all its glory here. The article is on page sixty-nine.

Zomato “gets” foodies, and it gets them so well

I am a foodie. And a big Zomato fan, no pun intended anywhere. Here, I am going to talk about everything we foodies love about Zomato and all the things it could do better.

For the uninitiated, Zomato is a restaurant discovery platform with 74,800 restaurants listed across 19 cities and 4 countries, and claims to have served 62.5 million foodies till date. More simply, it is about food and where to find the best of it.

So this is how I met Zomato. I was in college till 2009, and whenever I needed to know of new places to eat or hang out at, I just asked a couple of friends and I had more recommendations than I could handle. But once I entered the world of technology, everything in life started to begin with a Google search. But that’s not how I discovered Zomato. That’s how I discovered that websites of restaurants, when they have one, are completely useless. They talk about everything except what I need to know.

I got to know of Zomato in a rather funny way. I was looking for some kickass About Us pages on the web, and a friend of mine pointed me towards Zomato’s team page on Facebook. It spoke the same language I spoke, had this young and fun feel about it, quirky bios of everyone on the team. I loved it. Then I gave their product a try. And I uttered — “My precious.”

And we have been together ever since. It’s been a rather smooth relationship, and now I will tell you of all the things I love about it.

When do you look for a new place to eat at? Most likely when you are in the mood for some good Italian food but have been to little Italy thrice in the last fortnight. Or you are at a friend’s place in your shorts and floaters, probably a little drunk, and want food delivered to your doorstep? Hyderabadi Biryani has not been very kind on your stomach lately, so you want to go for someplace lesser spicy. Zomato delivers on both counts by allowing you to search for restaurants by fine dining or delivery in your city. There’s also catching up and nightlife if you are in the let’s-go-hangout mood. And if you like searches the Google way, then you have a simple Search bar you can throw in all your keywords into.

But that is no rocket science, is it? No it isn’t. Actually most of the things that Zomato does isn’t rocket science. It’s just that they do it well, really well.

Then you get your search results in 0.035 seconds in a beautifully laid out page with everything you need. Ratings, timings, cost for two, bar or no bar, cash or card, reviews from people you follow (more on this later) and more. And then you can apply filters like wifi, outdoor seating, buffet and whatnot to find that perfect someplace for you. Again, all of it in what I can only call a lovely interface.

Then you choose a restaurant, and are presented with all the details you need on the restaurant. Up-to-date scanned copies of the complete menu (which they go door-to-door and collect manually), photos of the place and food (not the best, but manageable) and most importantly reviews. Comprehensive reviews from foodies, big foodies and connoisseurs. The reviews tell you everything about the ambiance of the place, the service, the dishes to try and then they give you more photos.

The reviews were not always these helpful. Then Zomato decided to create a food social network of sorts, and there has been no looking back ever since. You can follow foodies, so every time they add a new review, it comes up in your notification bar. Passionate foodies and wannabe food critics use this as an opportunity to educate their followers about food and the best of it.

As the number of reviews you post increase and more people find it helpful, you go from foodie to connoisseur, and you also become eligible for the leaderboard which is displayed in each city’s homepage. The catch is you have to enter a review having more than 50 words, and when you are doing that, you might as well write a good detailed review. And with the recent Instagram integration in the reviews, you can add pics for other foodies to drool over.

Sounds like the perfect love story, doesn’t it? Well, almost. There are some things that Zomato could have done better though.

The ads. They are some of the ugliest ads I have seen on the web. Every time I search for restaurants, a bunch of these ads come up in the right panel. And every time I see them, my eyes bleed and a little part of me dies. I understand Zomato has to make money and restaurants work with shitty digital agencies, but there has to be a better way. Featured listings, photo albums, more details, whatever it is that they can make money from as long as the ugly ads can go out the window.

iPhone app. While it has seen big improvements over time, it still isn’t as good as the website experience. And the consistency is missing across the two interfaces. You can just search by location or cuisine on the app, not by delivery, dine out, catching up and the like. But an interesting feature is the instant recommendation that tells of you of a random new place near you — if you don’t like it, just shake the phone and a new recommendation will come up. I think I could use a variant of this on the web interface as well.

The tags. A cafe is a cafe to me, so when it comes up in my search for Italian food, I start getting cranky. And this happens because under the cuisines tag, the cafe has American, European and Italian marked against it when it serves four dishes for each of those cuisines, and pretty bad one at that. Same with pubs having Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and Italian slapped against them. Of course, I have no qualms if the cafe or the pub serves really good food, but when I am looking out for good Indian food, neither a pub or a cafe or a restaurant having a total of three Indian dishes is what I am looking for.

Notifications. While I like to be notified when someone I am following posts a new review, why do I have to be notified when someone I follow follows someone else? I want to follow their food trail, but not every single thing they do.

All that said and done, I have to commend Zomato for everything it has done for us foodies, and for the industry as a whole. Only time will tell how it fares against the Yelps of the world as it expands into more mature markets, but it’s got an international product and the balls to take on the world.

I wish them all the best.

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 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