iYogi is the first worldwide direct-to-consumer services brand from India and the company offers desktop and laptop computer support services to home users and small businesses. The company also does remote configuration of computer peripherals such as printers, scanners or wireless routers. iYogi has seen a 300% increase in it’s annual revenues with the revenues for the current fiscal are expected to stand at $65 million.
This enormous growth made sure that the company does not go un-noticed by potential investors and none other than Sequoia Capital India invested $30 million in Noida based company iYogi. Sequoia will pick up a minority stake iYogi. This fresh funding will help iYogi to expand it’s business to Europe, West Asia and India in addition to it’s existing service bases in North America, Canada, the UK and Australia.
LinkedIn is a special networking website that helps over millions of professionals around the world connect with each other. Recently LinkedIn introduced a feature called “Company Pages” to help companies attract new customers by displaying their products, services and recommendations in a trusted environment. However, this feature was currently available to only 3 companies in India – Volkswagen India, Spear Logistics and Indus Net Technologies.
But now this feature – “Company Pages” has been made available to all Indian Companies irrespective of the company size and it’s business. This is a welcome move from LinkedIn as in today’s digital world, online showcasing and advertising surely helps companies to market their products better.
Hari V Krishnan, country manager for LinkedIn India said that LinkedIn has more plans about engaging with Indian Businesses in real time. He also said that LinkedIn will continue to invest in understanding the Indian consumer’s demands and concluded by saying that LinkedIn has seen almost 100 per cent growth in India this year.
FashionAndYou.com is an online retail shop for luxury fashion goods in India where membership can be obtained only by invitation sent by the site or its existing members. The concept is a hit and has really caught up with Indian consumers. FashionAndYou.com has scaled up fast in a very little time thus making them eligible for a big ticket investment from Sequoia Capital.
FashionAndYou.com recently raised $8 million investment from Sequoia Capital India and now the company plans to use the funds to enhance its product offering, strengthen its enterprise technology and expand its distribution capacity. In India, Sequoia has invested in over 50 companies including Cafe Coffee Day, Dr Lal PathLabs, Idea Cellular, Just Dial and Shaadi.com.
In other internet news in India, RedBus.in – an website that started selling bus tickets in India for the first time , has been awarded the Best Internet Startup of the Year’ at India Digital Awards 2010 held along with the 5th India Digital Summit organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in New Delhi on December 7-8, 2010
RedBus.in is a Bangalore based startup founded by three BITS Pilani graduates has come a long way in the business of online bus ticket vending. RedBus has over 250 bus operators as it’s partners with buses that ply on over 3600 routes throughout India.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) recently conducted a survey about the internet usage among the indian youngsters and has found out some good statistics which can help rising internet startups in India to understand their consumers in a better way. According to the survey 85 per cent of the Indian youth uses Google as their only search engine and are also active on social networks.
The survey has been titled as The Web 2.0 Generation Survey 2010. It also reveals that more than 70 per cent of the Indian youth spend approximately more than 30 minutes daily on the internet. This survey was conducted by TCS by polling over 10,000 school going children in the age group of 12-18 across 11 cities in India.
According to Ajoy Mukherjee (VP, Global HR) of TCS nearly half of India’s total population has a age of below 20 and has been classified under the youth category, creating a group of over 459 million. This happens to be more than the population of USA. He also said that this survey will not only help TCS to find the best students but will also guide them to better communication with the youth. More survey results can be found here.
Online greetings portal 123Greetings.com has launched a new service called Studio which enables artists worldwide to upload their personal creations and showcase them as e-cards on 123Greetings.com. This opens up a huge platform for artists to showcase their work and talent to the world. Not only this, users on 123Greetings.com can access multi-lingual as well as multi-cultural content on the site.
123greetings.com is used by 120 million unique users annually to send e-cards to their loved ones. The site currently offers over 20,000 greeting cards covering a mix of 3,000 seasonal and everyday categories. These numbers are surely a huge thing for artists who can leverage this all new platform and make their work seen by many, online.
123Greetings.com is run by an Indian company IntraSoft Technologies. Arvind Kajaria, the managing director of IntraSoft Technologies feels that by leveraging the leadership position of 123Greetings.com, this new Studio platform will attract a significant number of new users to the website which in turn is expected to positively impact the top line and bottom line of their company.
PurpleTalk Inc., a California based mobile application development company plans to provide funding to mobile web based and mobile startups in India and has launched an incubator called PollenEight. The goal of PollenEight is to help aspiring entrepreneurs and engineers with their business ideas with seed (initial funding) capital. PollenEight will also provide entrepreneurs with resources and mentorship by industry experts and veterans.
Applications can be made through the website www.polleneight.com. Selection criteria for PollenEight funding involves a lot of parameters such as the team composition, size, level of interest, ambition and the technical capabilities of the team.
After funding, entrepreneurs will get to attend social events organized by PollenEight, where they will be able to demonstrate their early prototypes. This is in addition to the regular mentorship which is a part of the program. As of now, PollenEight plans to select up to eight teams or ideas at a time for funding, with two batches running annually.
Facebook has been working on a new feature called "Related Photos" which will display similar photos next to a photo your are viewing based on who has uploaded the photo and name tags used in it.
However, interestingly a Indian Startup called Lifeblob’s founder has accused Facebook of blatantly copying the feature from the site. The accusation which was done in a post by Lifeblob’s founder Pranav Bhasin on his personal blog (read here), says this (notes added by me):
With this supposed innovation, facebook will now start showing other photos of people who are face-tagged in a photo next to it. The application feature addition is designed to drive users to explore additional photos that may be of interest based on the photo they’re currently viewing, thereby further personalizing the experience (and increasing page views).
Just to set the record straight, we have had this feature ( and a lot more ) at http://www.lifeblob.com for over a year now and facebook has blatantly copied it. Every time you upload a photo on lifeblob, a recommendation engine not only looks at the face tags, but also the other information associated wtih (sic) your photo to show you photos that are closely related around it.So when you upload your graduation day photos, we discover other photos of your graduation day and show it next to your photo. What facebook has done is picked up this idea and launched a simple version of it that only uses face tags. Bravo!!
Pravin has also posted a screenshot which demonstrates the similarity of the feature on both Facebook and Lifeblob, which can be seen below.
The accusation in itself sounds pretty straightforward, however, there are this is nothing new in what Facebook is doing and there have been several times when they have cloned features from Friendfeed and Twitter too in the past, remember the like feature in Facebook, this was what came from Friendfeed, along with some design changes to the site which made it look similar to Twitter.
However, neither of these companies have started to accuse Facebook of theft and Facebook even went ahead and acquired Friendfeed.
Inspiration is definitely a good thing, however, this accusation of theft may not hold in a court of law. First thing to note here is that Lifeblob does not have any patent for their features and even if they had, they would not be able to sue Facebook in US if they had a Indian patent.
All said and done, I do feel that if Facebook did come out with this feature based on inspiration from Lifeblob, they might not come out and say it outright. And Lifeblob in itself might not be able to claim a intellectual theft in a court of law, so this accusation will remain just that.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you think that Facebook really copied the feature from Lifeblob or this is just another thing anyone could do?
Notion Ink also demoed the gadget during the electronics expo at CES 2010. We got a chance to catch up with Notion Ink’s CEO Rohan Shravan and asked him a few questions about "Adam" and other interesting developments around it. So without ado, here is the interview with Rohan Shravan.
Keith: First of All Could You Introduce Notion Ink to us? Rohan: Notion Ink is a firm for Innovation. Very very young and very different. Average age of employees is 22 yrs! Based out of India. It was my dream to design devices which can do anything. And thats what we are doing right now. The first thing you do to realize your dream is to write is somewhere. And thats what we will help other to do. We will be their Notion Ink.
Keith: Back in December 2009, we were surprised to see a tablet from an Indian startup? Why did you choose to get into an industry which was not yet established worldwide, leave aside India? Rohan: We are working on it since last 3 years. It took the final shape in 2008 end. The device we want to make is still technologically not possible and we will work till we achieve the same.
Keith: How and why did you come up with the name "Adam" for your Tablet? Did it have to do anything with "Adam & Eve"? Rohan: I wanted a named series. Something people can relate to. Adam tablet is the first of its kind. Its an ebook reader and tablet, both, hence a new species which brings a new convergence. And hence the name Adam. Eve will be there, soon.
Keith: What according to you sets Adam apart from the rest of the competition? Rohan: It will bring in new user input mechanisms, new UI trends, OS behaviors, Cloud computing relations, Content Eco-system, ebook and tablet convergence, open system and already a huge fan base!
Keith: Do you follow the developments behind iPad, Joojoo, Slate and other upcoming tablets? How do you see them as a competition? Rohan: I do. But only as developments. Competition is healthy. It is good for end user. And it brings innovation.
Keith: How was your experience at CES 2010? Did you find recognitions for Adam there? Rohan: CES was wonderful. It made it clear that people are waiting for it. And it is the right time for this product.
Keith: Given the current Indian market which basically is made up of cheap or mid-range cell phones, do you think that Adam will do well, or do you have different markets in mind right now? Rohan: Firstly, thats not true. There is a huge market for smart phones and mobile internet adoption is one of the fastest.
Secondly, Notion Ink does belong from India, but Adam was not designed with India as its reach. It is designed for people who are ahead of others. For those who will be the leaders in technology. And they happen to belong in all the countries. Some have many, some have few.
Keith: Are you collaborating with big partners to get the device out? Rohan: Yes, we are in good stages of these collaborations.
Keith: What are the Specifications for Adam, not that we don’t know it, but we would love to hear it from the horse’s mouth? Rohan: I believe what we don’t know is not in the public domain yet.
Keith: Are you planning any variations in the device based on where you launch it, to narrow down the costing? Rohan: Not necessarily.
Keith: Where do you plan to manufacture the device? Will it be in India or from within US, considering that your major market will be US and Europe, and you have to pass through tough manufacturing standards to be able to export to these continents? Rohan: Even the educated people in India would demand FCC certifications. Quality is first goal. Nothing gets manufactured in US. Our bases will be same as US houses.
Keith: How do you foresee the future of Internet tablets, not as a manufacturer, but as a end-user? Rohan: As end user, i see carrying only tablets. All other things will vanish. Phones will be just headphones, laptops will be on clouds, and tablet will even replace books and notepads.
Keith: Lastly, would you be able to tell us when this device will be out and how much it will cost along with how people can buy it? Rohan: It is definitely not as costly as iPad.
Thanks to Mr. Rohan for sparing the time to answer our questions. Hope you had a great time catching up with the CEO of one of the most waited upon device, the "Adam". You can check what Notion Ink is all about by visiting their website, or keep up with the latest updates from the company by visiting their blog.
For those who haven’t yet got a chance to see "Adam" in action can watch the embedded video below.