Thursday, December 25, 2008

desimartini.com - where young boys and gals meet!

I am finally back with a first look on an Indian social networking site called desimartini.com! The web site was launched way back in 2006 by a 26 year old young business school graduate, Vivek Phawa. It was later sold in year 2007 to media giant, Hindustan Times Media which owns Hindustan Times, Mint and a radio channel called Fever 104. This web site targets average Indian youth of our times by providing common social community features. I would divide the features into following key areas:
1. Network creation: Profile creation, group creation, search and add friends
2. Communication: chat, send free SMS, blogs, polls, discussion forums, local questions etc.
3. Content creation and share: Ideas, photos, videos, music
4. Sticky content and tools: games, celebrity news, horoscope, love meter etc.
5. Events: Online events and contests like surveys with free prizes etc.
Overall, I found the site neat and simple from the usability perspective. The revenue generation primarily appears to be dependent on ads and online games! However, long-term given its existing user base, it can be used by marketers to influence buying behavior significantly! also do visit www.makkadman.com for some interesting STUFF :) !! check it out if you have some time !

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Internet community/networking sites in India

This week I got a chance to look into the community sites that are making in-roads in Indian e-space . I was amazed to see the number of sites that have evolved over a period of time. See for yourself ...

1. desimartini.com - your place to connect with other cool guys and girls
2. bumpedinto.com
3. goyaar.com
4. apnacircle.com
5. ibibo.com
6. hareepa.com
7. indyarocks.com
8. imom.in
9. bigadda.com
10. minglebox.com
11. toostep.om
12. instablogs.com
13. thebig.tv
14. injoos.com
15. desiji.com
16. dekhona.com
17. xbhp.com and more.....!!

However, the Indian space is still dominated by orkut.com !! I will be capturing more about the community sites in India in coming weeks !

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tata group and NEN (National Entreprenuerial Network) have announced the TATA NEN hottest startup awards to promote Indian startups in various sectors like agribusiness, consulting, education, IT, manufacturing etc. The awards are based on nominations made by people at hotteststartups.in. The awards will be announced after December 22nd. So far around 588 nominations have been recieved across various categories. Bangalore tops the list with maximum number of startups followed by Mumbai and Delhi. Nearly, 70% of the startups have been started by individuals with their personal savings. To review the list of nominated startups visit hotteststartups.in !

Sunday, November 9, 2008

MoCoLife - free SMS broadcasting solution from indiatimes !


Mocolife, is the latest value added services from Times Internet Ltd. It is powered by indiatimes 58888 which is the first premier SMS brand code in Indian mobile solutions space. Mocolife provides free SMS messaging service to Indian consumers. You can now do bulk SMS broadcast in India, subscribe for content, set up reminder services to remind you of important days through free SMS, gift a ringtone to your loved ones. In addition you can use short codes to define your number on MoCo Life which your friends, business associates, customers can use to send SMSs. For example if you are running a restaurant, you can define your Moco identity by a Moco keyword called "FOO". Your customers can then send SMS Moco FOO at 58888 in case your number is busy. Your customer will get an auto response that you will call him later while you get a SMS with your customer's number. Though this concept is similar to the missed call alerts that most of the mobile operators provide, but I see this concept evolving in future to transform into an individuals text based mobile identity! a concept similar to your email id. This has the potential to transform the way we brand products, services, people, places over mobile! For example instead of remembering a restaurant's mobile number I may send a short SMS to FOO and reserve space! While this is a free service for consumers but most of us will not know that when we register for this service we are explicitly signing up for receiving advertisements from the advertisers of Times Internet Ltd. This clause is mentioned at the bottom of the "User Agreement" option available on the registration page, which would be rarely seen by an average user !! A smart tactical move which is not in the best interest of we - the consumers! On the whole, I would still like to appreciate the initiative which may open up new avenues of increasing consumer reach for businesses. For people like me who are not good at remembering birthdays and anniversaries, this is definitely a great service. Give it a try here!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ngpay - The mobile shopping mall

ngpay is a smart mobile shopping mall which enables you to to make purchases and payments related to host of services. You can use ngpay services to buy air and railway tickets, cinema bookings, bank transactions, books and gifts etc. It has tied up with a number of leading players in the Travel, Entertainment, Banking and Services sector. The service is free to use. All it requires you to download the ngpay application from its web site on your mobile handset. You need to provide your mobile number on the ngpay website which in turn will send you the link in an SMS response. It pretty much acts like a tradition e-commerce web site. You can select a product or service that you want to purchase. The application walks you step-by-step through each product purchase process. Once you are on the payment screen it will ask you for payment options. You can choose to pay through credit card or debit card or even pay using ITZ cash cards. You get confirmation of your transaction over SMS and email. Overall I found the application convenient and easy to use! This is a great initiative towards using your mobile handset as a payment instrument. You can see a demo here !

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Indian corporates all set to cut jobs to remain afloat !!

If recent views from Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) d to believed, many Indian corporate houses are planning to cut 25% of jobs in next 10 days. The companies wanted to initiate this process prior to Diwali but for humane reasons it was deferred. The key industries which will be impacted include real estate, steel, cement, IT enabled services and financial services sector. This would ideally mark the beginning of real economy slow down with average people facing the real brunt. There are currently no measures taken up by any of the trade organizations to avoid this since the problem is spreading like a plague across the corporate world.

Word of caution "Stick to your current jobs and prove your worth to the organization where you are working"

Friday, October 17, 2008

Online Photo companies -Marketing Strategies

The Online Photo Printing companies use different types of market strategies to attract user attention. Some of these include:

1. Integration with other photo management sites: Some of the online web sites offer integration with Yahoo photos or Picassa in order to import photos into the user's site specific account. This allows the user especially NRI's to deliver photos in prints to India without re-uploading the files.

2. Referral Schemes: many e-tailers provide the user's with referral schemes. A user can get "N" number of prints free if he provides genuine referrals to the web site.

3. Signing Offer: Almost all the web sites offer free 5 - 10 photo prints to a registered user on its web site.

4. Affiliate model: Some of the web sites are also offering affiliate relationship in order to drive traffic on their web sites

5. Selling Consumer's Photos: Another strategy which is used by these web sites is to allow the registered user to sell his photos through its web site. The consumer is given a commission on every sale that is being made through the web site. This is a pretty decent incentive for consumer's to upload their creations on these web sites.

6. Photo Contests: Some of the web sites also organize events like photo contests to drive traffic

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Business Models in Online Photo Gift Products business

Online photo gift product business is slowly gaining momentum in Indian market place. The key market players are this space include picsquare, iTasveer, snapfish, snapgalaxy, photohugs, zoomin, merasnap, printcamp and gkvale. A closer look at the background of these online shops brings out the nature of business models which are in play in this space. Broadly, you can see the following models:
A) e-commerce: Most of the players in this space largely generate revenue by selling photo based products online. Mainly, these involve taking online orders for printing of digital images uploaded on the portals and selling personalized photo based products. However, many of these portals do not have their own photo labs and have partnered with various local or regional photo studios that print and deliver these photos on behalf of these portals. The key cost centers for these portals include:
- Procurement of products like mugs, key chains, mouse key pad, T-Shirts etc. which are used for building personalized photo products.
- Printing of photos on these products
- Printing of photos by a third party studio
- Distribution cost
- Web site management cost
B) e-Stores: Some of the web sites also provide its users to set up online stores for uploading and selling its designs which the customers can use for personalizing their products. Companies like Pringoo.com are providing users with the capability to set up their online stores and earn commissions on sale of every product which goes out to customers with their designs.
C) Brick and Mortal model: The existing photo studio labs are the next emerging players in the online personalized photo product business. Regional companies like G K Vale, Bangalore have emerged as one of the strongest players that have cost advantages due to its age old photo printing business.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Satguide - GPS navigation tool available in your nearest stores!

I have been thinking about covering the increasing penetration of GPS products in India but was not sure if it had made in-roads to consumer market till I read about SatNav technologies recent foray. It is first Indian company which brought GPS navigation to India. Finally, it has announced that the GPS navigation tools will be available at major Indian retail chains. This would include Staples, Reliance, E-Zone and Croma to begin with but will soon make way to your nearest super markets!

Interestingly, the company offers satguide based GPS navigation tools for a number of mobile and PDA softwares. The company claims to have detailed maps of 200 + cities. The software offers turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts in English and different Indian languages which makes it all the more interesting. As of now it is available in all major I cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahemdabad and Gurgaon.
For more details visit : http://www.satguide.in/

Friday, September 5, 2008

Face recognition - Google's Picassa rocks !

It's all about Google this week! First its latest browser chrome and now the announcement about its face tag capability on its online photo album web site Picassa. Google has added the face recognition web site which was so far being largely utilized for security solutions. Google has extended this feature to an average home consumer. If you have an account with picassa, you can try this feature. Look for adding the "Name Tag" feature and click on it. This will start the face recognition exercise in the background. You can come back at a later time to see the processed images. The system will tell you the number of faces that it has identified. You will be required to label those faces. Amazingly, I had my daughter's images right from 6 month old to 2.5 years old and it can group them together as images belonging to one person !!!! Once you label individual photos, the picassa can identify the labeled photos in group photos. Try it out it's truly mind blowing !

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Google launches Map Maker in India

If you have been wanting to know details about your neighborhood, locality or district using a detailed map, you do not have to wait for Geographical Survey of India to update and publish them which I do not even know will ever happen. This is because Google has launched its Google Map Maker utility in India. Google Map Maker is a service which allows you to add or edit features, such as roads, offices, buildings, shops etc., at anyplace on the published map. For example, you can add the name of shop, building, college, school in your neighborhood within the map and publish it to the larger audience. The map allows you to add all the details like address, draw a road, river, mark a playground, park etc. something which can definitely benefit the masses. However, the biggest challenge that I can think of is the accuracy of the details. Nevertheless, I think it is still a novel idea coming out of its idea repository!

Do try google map maker at http://mapmaker.google.com

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Momail - World's smallest mobile e-mail now in India

Momail, a Stockholm based company has launched its popular mobile product in India today. It provides a complete email solution to consumer on his mobile phone but with a difference. It offers a unified email inbox for all your different email accounts from Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail etc. You can send or receive emails from your mobile using momail. Currently, Momail has opened its Indian site http://www.momail.in/ for around 100,000 beta users. You can be a part by signing it online with a password momailrox on its web site. The company claims to support over 1100 different mobile models. The service is free during the beta period but will eventually be launched as a paid service. I tried the service today. Though the registration was straigthforward - register on website, provide your Mobile number, the site sends all the settings as a message to your mobile. You need to open the message and save it which results in default configuration of Momail on your mobile phone. That's really a cool feature especially for consumer market ! However, I was unable to access the emails using my phone due to connectivity issues which I reported to its customer support which was gracious enough to respond within 2 hours :) ! Do give it a try and let me know what you feel about the product.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Economic Times Business Spaces Conference BEC Mumbai 29-30-31 Aug 2008










If you are looking out for a commercial space in India don't miss the Economics Time Business Spaces exhibition to be held on Aug 29-30-31 2008 in Mumbai, India. It will have real estate projects from all over Indian with a focus on malls, IT parks, SEZs available for lease or outright purchase. In addition the event will also host a 3-day conference with eminent speakers from government and private sector sharing their perspectives on the current and future prospects of real estate industry in India. For details check out:
http://www.99acres.com/mailers/templates/business-space-conference.htm

Bausch&Lomb - Eye care online !!


Bausch&Lomb does not need an introduction in the consumer eye health care market. It's products are used in more than 100 countries and has world's most oldest brands to its name in this space. In the Indian marketplace too it is the market leader but what caught my attention was it's e-initiative to reach out to wider Indian audience. Recently, I got a promotional e-mailer inviting me to get a trial pack at my doorstep:


This led me to its Indian web site which provides host of information about its Indian products. The web site allows you to drop in your queries regarding purchasing contact lenses with its team of Optometrists. In addition you get tips on Lens Wearing and Eye Care. You can directly get in touch with the team for all your queries by dialing in a toll free number +91-9910339830 or SMS Lens to 56161. It is interesting to see how corporate houses are leveraging the power of internet to reach out to Indian consumers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

99acres.com - buy, sell Indian residential properties online

It is probably too late to write a review for Indian real estate portals like 99acres.com but looking at the emerging potential in this space, I decided to spend some time on this vertical. 99acres.com is another successful portal from promoters of naukri.com, i.e. Info Edge India Ltd. It provides a perfect platform for various stakeholders like buyers, sellers, brokers, builders etc. in the real estate market to do business online. At a high level here are some of the key features that this web site offers to different stakeholders in this value chain:
A. Consumers: You can search to buy, sell, or rent out a property based on your budget, housing requirement, location. You can also look out for a PG accommodation.
B. Builders: You can publish your properties under various listing schemes depending on your budget on the web site. The web site offers different kind of promotional tools and packages to advertise your property on its web sites
C. Property Dealers: You can separately register yourself as a property dealer under this category on the web site giving you instant visibility
In addition you can also use its home financing services. You can apply for an online home loan, use various calculators for determining EMI or Amortization, home insurance, and various other informative content. Site also offers specific services for NRIs to make the real estate investment a smooth process. On the whole its a pretty comprehensive web site which aims at bridging up the home buying and selling a smooth affair. Interesting thing would be to tie up with government agencies to allow online property registration !!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Meridhun.com launches Meridhun Musical Widget

Last month I had reported about meridhun.com, an online hindi songs gift shoppee! While the concept is definitely unique but I had some doubts on their marketing strategy and expansion plans. Recently, it has launched its partnership/affiliate program by establishing a Partner Club program. As part of this program you can sign up to become a partner of meridhun.com and generate a cool widget which you can place on your blog or web site. For each successful registration you can earn 10 Meridhun points which is equivalent to Rs 1 INR. However, the reward points can only be reedemed against the products sold on meridhun and cannot be encashed. This sounds like a good strategy but I think using widgets as part of partnership program is bit cumbersome process. I would rather allow people to generate widgets directly from the web site rather than following a tedious partner registration process and confirmation from support team. Further for some reason I do not find this option advertised on meridhun home page. I guess the company should closely evaluate the strategy adopted by dhingana.com !!
BTW here is the widget in case you want to play around and help me earn some reward points :)(The widget still needs some usability enhancements)


Saturday, August 9, 2008

rediff bus fare search - another marketing innovation !!

With rediff Bus FareSearch, rediff.com has entered into rapidly growing Bus reservation services market. This is truly a big bonanza for Indian consumer market which has been deprived of basic services for the most common transit system in India.
The unique thing about rediff bus fare search is it gives comparative details of trains for the same destination. For example if you are searching for bus from Mumbai to Pune, the search result will give you list of all the trains for that route with fares as well as the list of travel agents which provide buses on the route. The online bus reservation is done by redirecting the user to redbus.in while for railway reservation you are redirected to Indian railways web site. I must say with more and more companies eyeing for this space, it is fascinating to see how companies are changing strategies to acquire customers. For redbus.in, this is definitely a smart move to acquire customers without spending huge money on direct to consumer marketing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

MakeMyTrip.com : A new entrant in online bus reservation market

While I have been writing about the online bus reservation portals which have entered in the Indian e-space, the entry of makemytrip.com definitely signifies the big potential this space has got. It has taken up an aggressive approach to make an entry into the market place with a coverage of around 4000 routes, attractive bus deals, Holiday vouchers. The web site offers all the usual features like online search, seat selection, pick up point, online cancellation etc. A first look tells that it has a good coverage in northern, western and southern parts of India. The site however right now offers only one way reservation but I am sure it will be on its way to overcome this limitation. It would really interesting to see how the other players will react to a big market player like makemytrip.com. Check out the screenshot of a sales promo from makemytrip.com:

Monday, August 4, 2008

snapfish - HP's Online photo printing portal in India



HP promoted snapfish.com is a known name in the online photo printing Global market. Its entry in Indian space definitely validated the business potential that Indian market holds in this space. As expected the site is one amongst the best in terms of ease of use, usability and overall functionality. The focus is clearly on promoting only prints and photo products. while most of the features are quite similar to other indian sites like picsquare or itasveer, it essentially has an edge in the photo products categories. The photo upload can be done through web or even through email or mobile phones which is quite useful. It just widens the reach and encourages mobile users to send photos on the fly without getting into the hassel of downloading photos first on the computer. Also, the site offers a number of tools to edit your uploaded photos to make them more presentable and printable. Slide show is another cool feature for you to quickly see your photos. However, some of the basic things are missing here like integration with Flickr or Picassa, flexibility in payment options (only allows payment through credit cards) etc. which I was expecting to be present due to its rich experience in this field and presence in India.

Overall the site is pretty cool but from the marketing perspective I still feel that there is a lot of room for it to promote itself which surprisingly I am finding missing given the big name behind it. I find its Indian counterparts to be much more aggressive and innovative in that respect. One reason could be that this may just cannibalize its growing printer business in Indian Consumer market :) Despite that I would definitely recommend trying this web site at least once !

Sunday, August 3, 2008

photohugs.com - a simple online photo printing site






photohugs.com is a very simple, intuitive and straightforward online photo printing web site. It is currently focussed exclusively on photo print business and has so far not launched the photo product services. The web site indicates that it will be launched soon. The best thing that i liked about this web site was the simplicity with which the basic photo print process is described. The home page tells me everything about what is existing and what is expected in few words and pictures. Some of the unique features related to products that I found in this web site include:
- Ability to order a custom CD with your photos
- Access to high-resolution photos for download (the photos are edited and improved i guess)
- Send a VCD (Not yet launched but definitely a new feature, not sure if they are asking customers to upload or send unedited VCDs to them)
If you are only looking at uploading photos and sending the prints, I would strongly recommend this web site based on its ease of use though I have no idea about its delivery capabilities. Overall, I find it a good, simple-to-use web site.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

snapgalaxy - online photo printing web site






snapgalaxy is an online photo printing service catering to the customers from India and USA. Similar to other web sites that I had looked at in past, this web site provides you with the facility to upload photos and order prints and photo based products for delivering in India and USA. While from the features perspective it does not differ too much from its competitors but the marketing strategy is little different. It gives the users to earn revenue by making its photographs available on sale, in addition to making its personalized photo page Google ad sense enabled. This will probably give consumers some more incentive to stay on with snapgalaxy. It also organizes photo contests which is a novel way to engage customer in addition to giving him photo printing features. The site announces a theme for a contest and keeps it time limited. The winners are decided by user voting. Overall I find the web site average from usability perspective. The look and feel is not too great but serves the purpose. There is definitely some good thinking gone beyond just the print business model which is worth appreciating. You need to think about different marketing strategies to increase your revenue streams which I believe snapgalaxy is able to do. However, I still do not find its name in the top 10 search items on google search - something that the company should make a note to keep its presence felt on the national and international forum.

zoomin - Online photo products printing site




This is a pretty good web site from usability perspective providing online photo printing services in India and USA. First of all the registration offer is very attractive - 25 free prints just on registration! The moment you register, it automatically prompts you to create your first album with a default album name. This is the most common thing that I would like to do first. Once you upload a photo it asks you to add additional information like photo name, description, tag, place etc. You can then select the photos that you wish to print and order them through a very usable interface all through a single page. It allows you to crop you photos before you send it for printing. The overall process is very simple and intuitive. However, from the marketing perspective I think it can still do a lot of things to make it little sticky for its visitors. Running photo competitions, publishing best photos, building up a user community are some of the additional things which such web sites can adopt to grow and engage its customers. Overall, I think it is still a cool site.

Friday, August 1, 2008

printcamp.com - another online photo printing service



printcamp.com is another online photo printing Indian web site in the "Me Too" category. The service provides standard features for allowing its users to upload photos and place orders for prints and photo based products like calendars, T-Shirts and Mugs. The process is similar to picsquare and itasveer but it falls too short in terms of usability, functionality and ease of use. The site has some basic issues like session management in addition to the overall usability problem. I found myself kicked out of the site by clicking on certain links. Even after logging it again, I was unable to get back inside the site. Clicking on printcamp.com suddenly restored my session :) !! The site does not give you too many options in terms of photo products. Even the print options are restricted to certain fixed sizes unlike its competitors which allow collages, posters etc. It is so far the most expensive site I have come across (Rs5 per print unlike others which charge 2.99 with tons of features!!). Further, the payment can be done only through credit card unlike other sites where you get multiple options. Overall, I was quite disappointed with this site. In a fiercely competitive market, it is important for printcamp.com to innovate itself else it would be difficult for it to survive in long run. The search engine optimization may help you bring you web site up on the Google ranking but if you have a weak product, it would not help you retain your customers !!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

India Online Photo Service - iTasveer.com





iTasveer.com is another popular Indian online photo service portal. Founded in the year 2006 by four IITians, this portal offers its users the facility of placing orders for printing their photos or photo based products like mugs, calendars, mouse pads etc. You will be required to register with iTasveer before uploading photos and placing orders for prints. Upon registration you get 10 prints free of cost. While most of the features are quite similar to picsquare, it does offer some photo editing features like cropping. The overall navigation and usability of the web site is questionable though it is fast and easy for an average person to use. However, the overall flow from uploading photos to placing an order does not appear to be very well laid out. The site definitely requires a usability lift. On the whole, I did not find anything exclusive or different which caught my attention to highlight here. In a nut shell, it is an average online photo service web site in the growing online personalized photo products market. The company should try to build a USP for itself by innovating itself. Also, I feel that it can bring in some elements of web2.0 collaborative platform to make it more lively and interactive.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Online Photo Printing in India - Picsquare



Picsquare, a brain child of two young IITians, Manish and Kartik is one of the leading online photo printing web sites in India. Founded in December 2005, the web site offers online photo management and photo based gift creation services to Indian consumers. Though the online photo printing concept is not new but is definitely a fresh concept for rapidly growing internet savvy Indian consumer market. Though the real target market is the millions of NRI's staying abroad but I think there is a big potential for catering to domestic market needs. PicSquare works on a very simple philosophy - Allow the users to upload and manage photos free of cost, manage them using online albums or tags, and help them deliver prints or photo based products like Mugs, T-shirts, calendars etc to their door steps or to friends and family as gifts. The web site is very intuitive and easy to use. The web site allows you to import photos from your flickr or picassa accounts and store it with Picquare and order prints or other photo products. You can make payment online using credit cards or through internet banking. It also offers interesting promotional schemes like you get 10 free prints for every registered user that you refer plus free 10 prints on self registration. I have so far not tried its service but would definitely give it a try and will update this post with my experiences

Saturday, July 26, 2008

DVD Online Rental market - Business Models


India is a virgin market for online DVD rental companies. The concept of movies on rent has been in India from late 80's but was largely dominated by local video parlors most of whom had pirated movie versions. With Internet spreading reaching out to tier II and tier III cities, this space is slowly turning into a big market opportunity. To be an early entrant and establish itself, the companies are trying different business models to make this a profitable venture. Some of the business models that are currently in play include:

1. Subscription Model: The core business model across all the players in this space is the subscription model. Companies are offering monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and annual membership plans to woo consumers based on their preferences. The subscription plan include following components :
a)subscription fees (monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually)
b)refundable deposit
c)number of movies that you can rent at a time within a plan(Limited, unlimited)
d)Time-Limit for rental period (new titles need to be returned earlier while old titles may not have any time limit)

2. Brick and Mortar Model: A number of companies started off with an online store and have slowly expanded its presence into retail outlets. The web sites are now acting as store fronts rather than the core revenue generation machine. This has allowed the companies to widen their customer reach

3. Advertising: Many companies are also offering their real estate on their web sites for advertisers to advertise their products and services. The major source of revenue is from the entertainment industry.

4. Franchisee Model: In order to scale up, companies are also looking at opening new outlets through the franchisee route. The investment for a franchisee is to the tune of 13 -14 lakhs. In addition to this their is going to be franchisee fee and revenue sharing.

5. Online Movie Sales: Some of the companies also offer DVDs/CDs on its web site for sale. Bigflix in fact allows the users to download movies from its web site over a broadband connection(Not available in India though).

I have focused only on the revenue generation aspects of the business model here. It would be interesting to see the cost centers in this model given the fact that the companies may need to pay royalties to production houses.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Business models - Online Bus Reservation Sites

The bus reservation sites in India differ from each other in two ways - one the features and facilities that they provide over internet, second the business model. Here is a list of business models which I could see in practice across different online bus reservation sites:

1. Broker/Commission based revenue model: The online bus reservation sites make money by charging commissions on bus bookings from various registered partner bus operators.

2. Revenue from value added services: These sites charge small amount of money from consumers for value added services like home delivery of tickets.

3. Revenue from advertisements: Some of the web sites offer on site advertisements which are used to generate revenue.

4. Revenue from Franchisee: Some sites also offer franchisees for providing online reservation services. The franchisees are offered at a fee with additional income on shares on commissions.

5. Revenue from other travel ancillaries: Some sites have tied up with Taxi operators, Rail (IRCTC) as well as hotels and provide online booking facilities to availing these services. These partners are being charged a commission for every closed deal through their web sites.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Marketing Strategies in Online Bus Reservation Sites

The online bus reservation sites are using a combination of traditional and innovative market strategies to expand its business. Some of the interesting marketing strategies are captured here:

1. Growth using m-Commerce: Some of the sites have tied up with mobile commerce service providers like ngpay. This allows the company to increase its market reach with the exponentially growing Indian mobile subscriber base. Further, this helps the companies to leverage the customer base of m-commerce companies like ngpay thereby reducing the cost of customer acquisition.

2. Multiple customer interaction points: The leading market service providers have gone ahead and provided multiple customer interaction points like phone, web, retail outlets, SMS and m-commerce to expand its customer base.

3. Franchisee based market growth strategy: Many sites have adopted the franchisee model to scale up its businesses.

4. Market Promotion through alliances like Visa, auction and gaming sites: Many sites are offering promotional schemes by rewarding the partner's existing customer base with discounts and promotional offers. For example redbus.in is offering 10% discount to all the visa card holders who book ticket through their visa card.

5. Promotion through special travel packages: Some of the sites also offer special travel packages on behalf of its registered travel partners like devotional tour, winter package etc.

6. Discounted prices on week days: Some players offer discounted prices on various routes in alliance with registered travel agent on week days to drive the traffic.

Monday, July 21, 2008

RupeeX - Online personal investment management solution







RupeeX is an online investment management solution targeted towards Indian consumer's personal financial management needs. With RupeeX you can manage your investments in various areas like equity, IPO, mutual funds, derivatives, fixed income, real estate etc. You can create a portfolio for each of these investment categories online or can upload an existing excel sheet to import data automatically. In addition it also provides you with an online Tax filing module. The details can be submitted online and you can take a print out of forms ITR1 or ITR2. This feature is currently free as part of introductory offering. RupeeX also provides a number of utilities which makes it a powerful online collaborative tool. You can create accounts for other users like your family members who can mange their finances. In turn you can monitor the overall accounts of each user. Also, you can give access to your CA or Tax Consultant to review your investments online without creating a separate document. There is a provision for setting up alerts and reminders which come handy in tracking the progress of your investments. RupeeX finds its place in Economic Times online tax filing feature. A very cool marketing strategy!. You also have RupeeX toolbar which can be used to avail its features on the fly. Though this tool does not provides features to track of the overall cash flows for an average consumer. In that sense, i would say it is a half-baked solution. Today the need of the consumer market is to provide a single view of overall personal financial management which can help him manage his finances better. Companies like Intuit are a good example of what needs to be done to fill such gaps !

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Event: Using online professional networking to get ahead at work




NASSCOM is organizing a day long seminar on 8th August 2008 in New Delhi on the growing importance of network communities in professional world titled: "Using online professional networking to get ahead at work ". Here is the excerpt from its web site on the event details:

As part of NASSCOM Friday's 2.0 (Emerging Companies Forum - Marketing), we take pleasure in inviting you to attend the 38th session of NCR companies on 13th June 2008(Second Friday of the month). The session is Using online professional networking to get ahead at work and the speaker is Ajay Jain Senior Journalist.

Sites like LinkedIn.com (call it the Facebook of professionals) have changed the way professionals interact with one another at a global level, and many are using such platforms to their advantage in many different ways. Not only to find jobs and recruit people as many believe is the most useful application of these networks, but in many ways including: sales and marketing, seeking partners and investors, building a personal brand equity, opening new markets, tapping the collective wisdom of the crowd and more.

This presentation will thus cover all these many ways one can use sites like LinkedIn (with 23 million members globally, and one million in India) to get ahead at work.

NASSCOM Friday's 2.0 - Access the previous 36 Insightful Marketing Sessions at http://www.nasscom.in/fridays2.0

We organise these marketing sessions on the second Fridays of the month. We would greatly appreciate your presence and participation for this session. We looking forward to receiving your confirmation & seeing you on 8th August 2008.

Friday, July 18, 2008

paisawaisa - a personal financial services web site







paisawaisa.com claims to be a one stop shop for meeting all your financial needs. It offers consumers with the option to compare products from different financial companies related to loans, credit cards, banking, insurance, real estate and e-tax filing. assistance is provided through video or chat text which makes interaction easier and fast. In this blog I would specifically like to cover e-Tax filing. The site offers this facility to individuals, corporates and tax consultants with different features and price points. For a consumer the package is priced at Rs199, for employers 50 returns can be filed at Rs2499/ while tax consultants can avail it at Rs2999. As part of ongoing promotion you can file your tax returns free of cost till 31st July 2008. As compared to other sites like TaxShax and Taxsmile, it is lagging behind in features as well as usability. However, the overall look and feel of the web site is quite appealing and has the required stickiness to attract customers. The process offers two options: Complete your forms online, take a print out and file it manually at your Income Tax office. The second one allows you to submit your return online. However, there is no direct integration of this web site with income tax official site. You will be required to fill the form, generate XML through web site. Download the generated XML and visit Income Tax web site where you need to upload the XML and get the receipt(its called FORM V). You will be required to submit the receipt to the income tax office in your jurisdiction. Overall the site is an aid to income tax filing but does not completely eliminate the hassles of dealing with Income Tax manual processes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Taxspanner.com - file your tax returns online



Taxspanner is an online income tax filing web site which offers its services in two basic forms - Self Service and Advanced assisted Service. The process of filing returns is simple and straightforward. You have the option to start off without registering with the web site to begin with. The self-driven wizard guides you through the entire flow. You are required to fill your personal details and income related information. The Site provides you an online Form 16 which needs to be filled and submitted. Once you have completed all your details the web site requires you to make an online payment. Once you have made your payment you can download and print your return and deposit it to your nearest Income Tax office or you can use the e-filing service offered by Taxspanner via MTNL to submit your returns directly to IT department. The pricing varies based on the type of service you want to avail. For self service option you are charged with 249 while advanced assisted service costs you Rs449. For e-filing it offers digital certificate signing service for Rs749 which may save you an extra visit to IT office. To promote itself it has tied up with icicibank and offers discounts to icici netbaking users. In addition it offers paid referrals schemes which allows a user to ear Rs50 per signed up paying referred user. The services are directed to consumers and has an extension for corporates too. Unlike other sites in this space, it does not have value added features for corporates or have any separate support for tax consultants which in itself constitutes a big market.

On the pricing front, I believe it is a pretty reasonable offering. However, it still needs to improve upon its usability as compared to other sites like taxshax.com. In order to be competitive and to scale up business it should definitely consider going retail through a franchisee network which should not be an expensive arrangement. This would definitely increase its reach and would give an edge over its competitors in this space.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Taxsmile - Your online tax consultant





Taxsmile is an online tax filing initiative from 3i Infotech, a global player in the BFSI space. It offers e-filing services to individuals, corporates, tax consultants and NRIs. For consumers it is a boon since they do not have to go through the hassle of filling paper documents without any knowledge on the tax laws. Taxsmile offers services in three modes:
1. File Yourself: Allows the user to fill the application online without any assistance. Tariff is Rs250/-
2. File with an expert: Allows the user to submit the data online and request for review by a tax expert. Tariff is Rs 400/-
3. File through taxsmile: Drop your documents to a Taxsmile retail outlet and allow it to file return on its behalf. Tariff is Rs 750/-

Taxsmile gives you the flexibility to e-file the return through them rather than uploading the document to government income tax site all by yourself.
It offers a host of services to corporate employees like automated generation of Form16, online processing of PAN cards, tax preparation consultancy etc. It offers similar features to Tax consultants but is geared towards increasing their overall efficiency by automating various tasks.
I believe the biggest advantage is to NRIs staying outside India. The web site offers cool features to help them file their return from a distant country.

Overall I must say its a great web site offering services at an affordable price in a price sensitive Indian market.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taxshax - online income tax returns

Taxshax is one amongst the various online tax filing sites that is making its presence felt in the Indian consumer market. I took the opportunity to give it a try and was pleasantly surprised to see how simple it was to go through the entire process of creating a tax return document. The process is wizard driven which can be easily followed by an average user without the usage of any financial technical terms. Here is a summary of the steps needed to create your tax returns:
1. Register yourself on the taxshax.com
2. Follow the tax return creation wizard. The wizard asks simple questions in plain english which are a no brainer and can be answered very easily if you have all the information available with you.
3. Complete the wizard with all the relevant details. Towards the end the wizard will prompt you to enter your PAN number.
4. Enter the PAN number and buy the appropriate package for filing return. It currently offers three choices - Basic (Rs181), Silver(Rs 4) and Gold(Rs524) depending upon your income filing requirements.
5. Once you buy the package, you have the choice to either print the prepared return form which can be submitted to Income Tax Department or you can download the XML and upload it directly to income tax web site.
Taxshax also offers services to Tax Consultants and Employers who can use its online features to service its customers / employees to make life easier for everyone. I would strongly recommend readers to have an online experience of filing your tax returns. It is really cool!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

customerneedz - Another bus ticket reservation site






customerneeds.com is a Bangalore based outfit which provides online bus ticket reservation service to people traveling to southern part of India. The web site claims to have a coverage of around 300 cities with online return ticket coverage for over 100 cities. You can get your tickets delivered at your door steps or you can choose to print it online. Payment can be made online using your credit, debit cards or through online bank transfers. If you book tickets between Monday and Thursday you can get some discounts or will have lower fares than the premium charged during weekend rush. Usability is a major issue here. For example, it does not allow me to select the pickup points, nor does it gives me flexibility to specify my travel time preference upfront. I do not get a visual bus layout map to select seats. By and large I find it far behind other bus reservation sites in terms of features and functionality. However, a network comprising of 300 cities is still an encouraging sign but it would be help for the company to focus its energies in uplifting the web site from usability perspective to make it more user friendly. In this fiercely competitive marketplace the only way to get customers on your side is by delivering a world class service delivery experience offline as well as online. I hope the founders of customerneedz take these feedback positively and live up to its name which is truly to understand and fulfill customer's needs :) !!

Monday, July 7, 2008

abhibus - Online bus ticket reservation company







Abhibus is a Hyderabad based online bus ticket reservation company which offers travelers to book their tickets through web. The company appears to be quite young and has limited coverage as far as travel routes are concerned. The coverage is largely restricted to southern India with point coverage to cities like Pune, Kolkata and Mumbai. The booking can be only made through web site unlike other portals where you have the advantage of talking to a customer representative or use mobile for booking. The overall process is quite simple. Select a bus based on your requirement, select a seat from the seat map, give traveler details and make online payment. Though I found the overall process easy but it definitely lacks a lot of functionalities as compared to other major players in this segment like ticketvala.com or redbus.in. From the usability aspects, I would rate it as good but it should definitely look at providing some of the basic features like giving flexibility to select a bus type, select departure time, option to call a customer support number, home delivery of tickets, payment during delivery etc. This will help it to expand its target customer base which is currently restricted to only people who have access to Internet. Though the market appears to be quite big right now for different players to grow but in order to scale up it is important to expand your offerings and establish yourself at the earliest before the competition catches you or the place gets crowded!




rajtravels is a well known name in Indian Tours and Travel industry. Founded in 1976 this group has given a new dimension to the travel and tourism industry with its constantly evolving and innovative services. The latest contribution is the launch of www.raj.travel. It is a fully integrated portal offering reservation services around flights, hotels and buses. While the overall vision of the website appears to be moving into the direction of building a single one-stop solution for all your travel needs, but what caught my attention was the bus reservation service. It has presence in 16 states, covering 49 cities and operates a fleet of luxury coaches. The online reservation allows you to plan single or round trip journey. You can select a seat of your choice through the seat map functionality. Payment can be made online through credit or debit cards. Overall, it's a simple, easy to use web site. The overall process appears to be similar to other sites that I have covered in past. The only difference being that while redbus.in and ticketvala.com are intermediaries and offer you services from various travel agents while rajtravels is itself a service provider. An interesting strategy would be for it to grow its business in untapped territories by establishing alliances with various other operators with the use of its e-booking platform.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

redbus.in - Online Bus Tickets Booking Service

redbus.in is online bus tickets booking service with a difference. It allows a great deal of flexibility and convenience in making reservations online. It claims to have a network of over 300 operators and a coverage of over 4000+ routes. For people in Bangalore for whom traveling to new International Airport is a major pain, it provides online reservation facility for comfortable Volvo buses run by state government! Here is how it works:
1. You can search for buses online based on your itinerary by giving details like source-destination, no. of passengers, bus type etc.
2. The search results provide you with options containing various operators. You can narrow down the search by selecting the point of boarding.
3. You can book the ticket online or in some cases will be required to submit the request for booking and a customer rep will get back to you once he is able to arrange tickets for you.
4. As part of booking process, you can online select the seat which you want to book. The system offers you a visual layout of bus and gives you availability in real time.
5. You can make payment online through credit card, debit card, through your existing net banking account or even through your mobile phone.

The company appears to have set up offices in various cities all around India and is in a major mode of expansion. The web site still need to improve from usability perspective. For example, it should allow user to book round trip reservations, there should be flexibility in terms of selecting the travel time in order to retrieve the relevant result in one click. Another important feature would be to allow commuters to rate each travel operator. This will allow the consumers to drive quality awareness within this sector which is the need of the hour.

Friday, July 4, 2008

ticketvala.com - Online bus reservation site

ticketvala.com is an online bus reservation portal promoted by Travis Internet Pvt. Ltd. The web site offers bus reservation facility across various cities in western and southern parts of India. The process is quite similar to online travel portals focused on air travelers. The ticketvala.com provides you with an option to specify your itinerary details like departure/arrival date, time, bus type(volvo, ac, non-ac), number of passengers, seat type (sleeper, sitting) etc. Once you specify your itinerary details, the web site provides you a number of options with details like pick up points, operator name, fare details, departure/arrival time etc. You can review and select a bus of your choice and request for booking. The booking can be confirmed online or in some cases you need to place your request and the customer support executive from ticketvala.com will call and confirm your booking request. You can either make the payment online or choose to pay at the time of delivery. The tickets can either be delivered at your home or you can print it online. At the time of travel you will be required to produce a valid ID Card to validate your date of birth and your e-ticket. The tickets can also be booked by directly calling 1-800-209-222.

It appears to be a very novel idea and I think will lead to some level of organization in this sector. We definitely need more of these kind of services to enable an average non-Internet savvy traveler to benefit from the technology.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Online DVD Rentals Market Analyis - June 2008 round up

Executive Summary:

Evolution of movie rental business in India dates back to the advent of VCR's way back in 1980's. Since then this market has been growing steadily with constant evolution in terms of technology and reach. While western countries have been way ahead in this business by getting it registered as an industry in itself (DVD rental subscribers in the US and Europe, generate more than $1b of consumer spending), Indian business community has started taking a note of the emergence of this trend in Indian consumer market. With the mass proliferation of cheap DVD players in Tier II and Tier III cities, the Indian consumer is going gaga over watching latest movies in the comfort of their houses at a cheaper rate . There have been a number of small retailers who have sprung up in the neighborhoods which are catering to the demand of consumers all around India. These sentiments have been duly noted by some early entrepreneurs and some big industrial house like ADAG and Nimbus who have launched online and retail outlets in major cities. Companies like seventymm claim to have over 70,000 customers and expect to reach a subscriber base of 4 million in next 5 years while ADAG promoted bigflix.com intends to open 500 bigflix stores by year end in around 30 stores.


Key Service Providers:

The market as of of today cannot be tagged as an organized sector but is slowly moving in that direction. The current rental service providers can be categorized as:

1. Local Retail Video libraries: These have been around since 1980s and have been offering limited collection of movies in various languages. Majority of these retailers keep pirated copies and are hard to keep check on.
2. Exclusive Online DVD rental sites: These web sites offer movies on rent through home delivery in selected cities or areas within select cities. They offer a wide collection of movies in different languages but are constrained in terms of geographical distribution.
3. Online DVD rentals with retail formats: These companies started off with online DVD rental web sites and have slowly started setting up retail video libraries. The entry of ADAG promoted bigflix and Nimbus promoted showtime proves that there is a big market that need to be tapped in coming years as the quality of broadband improves.
4. Kiosks: Kiosk based DVD rental service is probably the most recent model which is under pilot but if found acceptance will give a tough competition to neighborhood libraries.
5. Online movie streaming services: These services were quite common to sites offering podcasts or bollywood music but with ADAG promoted bigflix targeting NRI consumers, one can get movies on rent through streaming or can download-to-own.
Common Features:

1. Most of the web sites offer subscription based services which offer flexibility to consumers to select an appropriate plan based on their usage pattern.
2. The ordering and fulfillment model is similar across the web sites which involves registration under a subscription plan --> creation of a movie queue based on preferences -->Free home delivery of queued movies --> Returning movies in-store or free pick up
3. The movies offered are in various Indian languages covering different genres and titles with sites boasting of a collection of around 10,000 to 15,000 movies.
4. Many of them offer sticky features like movie reviews, bollywood news and gossip, updates on latest albums etc.
5. There is an element of web2.0 paradigm where in each movie can be assessed by the consumer and can put up his reviews for the benefit of others.

Market Opportunity

The market is still in a very nascent state and will start showing signs of consolidation when there are more serious players entering into this space. There is still lot of scope for companies to innovate and serve the movie crazy Indian consumer. While these services are largely restricted to metros, there is a growing need in Tier II and III cities where internet penetration is slowing on rise and disposable incomes are showing new signs of economic independence. Its a golden opportunity for regional players to create a niche market by customizing and building localized services to capture the market in the early stages

References:

bigflix.com
clixflix.com
seventymm.com
moviemart.com
flickxpress.com
showtimevideo
cinebox
cinesprite
catchflix

Disclaimer:

I have made every reasonable effort to ensure that all information in this report is correct based on secondary market research. I assume no responsibility for any inadvertent errors.

cinesprite.com and catchflix.com : Online DVD rental stores


cinesprite.com, yet another web site on DVD rentals.. Vow I am actually getting excited to see this happening in India. I have decided not to key in lot of words here since a cursory glance tells me it does not have any distinguishing features but wanted to register it here for future references.




catchflix.com appears to be growing with presence in cities like Delhi, Pune, bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and chennai. There are no major differentiators here which are worth mentioning. Examples of another "Me Too" players

cinebox - another online DVD rental site







cinebox is an Ahemdabad, India based online DVD rental web site. There isn't much to write about this web site except for stating that it is no different from the existing web sites. In fact it is a toned down version of other web sites which offer lot many other features. At cinebox the process is simple - register yourself for a plan of Rs499 for unlimited movies, create your queue, submit queue, the movie gets delivered based on your queue preference, watch movie, call for free movie pick up.

The most weird thing about this web site was an advertisement of a competitor on the home page :) (www.bigflix.com )

Showtime Video - online DVD rental in mumbai










Nimbus promoted Showtimevideo is the latest entrant in the growing DVD rental marketplace. Currently its services are confined to Mumbai city but the company has ambitious plans to grow its business in national and international markets. It claims to have an investment plan of over Rs 1.5 billion in the next 3 years with a target of 140 stores in 40 cities in the next year. Projections include 500,000 - 750,000 subscribers in the first year, a turnover of Rs 600 million in the next one year and a breakeven of Rs 1.2 billion. They currently claim to have 16,000 titles across different languages and genres. They have retail presence in four locations in Mumbai and are in a state of expansion. A look at the web site does not reflect any differentiating feature which can help it stand out from others. The ordering and fulfillment model is similar to other sites that I have reviewed in past (bigflix, clixfix etc). Subscription plan ranges from Rs 75 to Rs 1399 at par with other players.

Overall, its a "Me Too" web site with no key differentiators.

flickxpress.com - a DVD rental vending machine company

flickxpress is a DVD rental company with a difference. Instead of an online presence, it has vending machines or Kiosks which allow you to select and rent a movie. Currently this is available in select residential complexes in Bangalore city, India. This is how it works:

1. You need to sign up for an account which will entitle you to receive a swipe card similar to your ATM card.

2. You can swipe your card into the kiosk, enter your password and login into your account. Browse the movie that you want to take on rent.


3. Select the movie and the disc will be available in the dispenser slot.

4. You can watch the movie and return it back through the kiosk.

Recharging is again done through the kiosk. This eliminates the human involvement completely. Though I have a first hand experience of the kiosk, I found the collection too limited then even my nearest dvd rental shop. I am not sure if this will be a commercially viable solution especially against the online rental web sites which offer more choice and service within 24 hours.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Personal financial services market analysis - June'08 round up

Today' blog is all about summarizing my findings in the personal financial services in the Indian consumer market place. Though the scope of my research has been quite small but i have tried to cover different types of service providers which should be able to give you a very high-level picture of the current market place in the financial services segment.

Executive Summary:

Financial services market in India has been growing in leaps and bound for more than over a decade now. With the bull run of 2005- 2007, there has been an increased awareness in Indian consumer market which has positively responded to various products and services launched by Financial Houses. The average Indian consumer has been saving his money in traditional instruments like PPF, Post office funds, Bank FDs, Gold etc and has been averse to investing money in modern day financial instruments. All this is slowly changing now with the advent of technology in investment and banking services. The financial service companies have leveraged the power of internet and have come up with web based services to educate the consumer to the world of personal financial planning and investment services. Though these web sites are heavily focused on investment services and have more or less content related to investment instruments like Mutual Funds, IPOs, Stocks etc, there is still a whole bunch of those who provide tips on "How To Dos" for various aspects like retirement planning, Life Insurance, Wealth management etc.

Service Provider Overview:

The key financial service providers in the Indian space can be classified under the following categories:
A. Brokers or intermediaries like personalfn.com, moneyline.com, sharekhan.com etc.
B. Public and private banks like ICICIdirect.com, hdfcbank.com
C. Digitial media houses like moneycontrol.com (CNBC India), ndtvprofit.com etc.
D. Print media houses like financialexpress.com, economictimes etc.
E. Fund houses like fidelity.co.in, franklintempleton etc.

Key Offered Financial Services:

A closer look at financial services reveal that the current services offered by various web sites include:

A. Personal financial planning (limited to giving advises in the form of articles and online calculators)
B. Market Updates - news, reviews, day trading, fund buy/sell advisory
C. Mutual funds - news, analysis, online purchase
D. Market Research and Analysis - Research on long, mid or small cap funds
E. Online portfolio management - register portfolio, track transaction history, NAV tracker, stock ticker etc. This also includes tools like personal financial management both online as well as as softwares.
F. Financial Advisers - Access to financial consultants through retail outlets or through a network of business affiliates
G. Knowledge center - Access to a database of articles on various aspects of financial planning ranging from personal finance to investment services in "How to do" kind of formats.


Market Opportunity:

There is still a lot of room for improvement and innovation like developing true personal financial management softwares which can enable an average consumer to plan his monthly and yearly budget. There is still a long road ahead before Indian consumer will truly gain the financial wisdom to understand and leverage the power of financial planning. Till then financial services will need to evolve and grow to reach out to end consumer in different ways.

References:
moneycontrol.com
equitymaster.com
Outlookmoney.com
myiris.com
itrust.com
moneyline.com
sharekhan.com
NDTVProfit.com
personalfn.com
icicdirect.com


Disclaimer:

I have made every reasonable effort to ensure that all information in this report is correct based on secondary market research. I assume no responsibility for any inadvertent errors.

Dilsebol.com - Online indian personalized gift shop








Dlisebol.com is the third Indian web site which I have come across which provides capability to design your personalized gift online. Going through the web site I did not find anything exclusive or different from myantra.com or pringoo.com. In fact, I find this web site as a toned down version of the earlier two that I reviewed in past. It allows you to created customized T-Shirts, Mugs, Mouse pads, Coasters, Poster and tiles. You can create your own designs and upload it to the online design gallery and earn a commission when someone buys it. However, I must admit that the web site is lacks in terms of usability and needs a major revamp to encourage users to stick to it. For example it is hard to look for a personalized product on the basis of category. It appears to display products in random from a database without any logic..! Overall I think it has to do a lot of work to come up to the standards of sites like myantra or pringoo.

equitymaster.com - Your Guide to Indian Stock Market

equitymaster.com is a web site truly focused on on Indian Stock market. It provides in-depth research services covering all kind of funds ranging from large cap, mid cap to small cap. It gives recommendation on buying and selling stocks across various sectors which for a regular investor is a boon and comes out handy. In addition to research data, the web site offers latest news and analysis, various tools and calculators, information on latest IPOs etc. Another important feature is a huge repository of information about 500 leading companies in India across different sectors. You can in fact read a fact sheet on any company which includes information related to equity share data, income statements and balance sheet data. You can also get information on various industry sectors like aluminum, software, telecom etc. If you want to make a more informed decision regarding investments, or even if you are planning to start a business in India, this site will give you a pretty good idea on the bigger picture for each sector.

Coming back to financial services, the site provides Portfolio Tracker which is an online stock and mutual fund tracking utility. You can analyse your portfolio anytime based on latest market data and make your decisions.
The premium services include subscribing for special research reports on various types of funds with price ranging from Rs 2000 to Rs 9500. You can also subscribe to MY PLANNER utility for managing your personal finance online at a small fee of Rs330/= p.a.

Friday, June 27, 2008

ibibo MTV iSuperstar Wild Card Entry!

Interesting marketing promotion idea!! Makes lot of sense especially in today's era of reality song and dance competitions ! Indian audience is truly breaking all cultural barriers to break free..!

meridhun.com - an online hindi songs gift shop







meridhun.com
is a fresh idea in the online personalized gifts and items e-market place. Instead of creating a custom gift item like a mug or a T-Shirt it offers you to personalize songs of your choice with your lyrics. This is how it works:

1. You can select a song from the list of songs available for personalization
2. You can then modify the lyrics based on meridhun.com recommendations and submit it for recording.
3. The recording studio at meridhun.com will review the song lyrics and based on the recommendation guidelines it will record and make it available in your account.

The web site claims to have a turn around time of 48 hours depending upon your order. The level of customizations that you can do can be categorized as:
a) Name: replace the name of a person in the song with user chosen name
b) Basic: change some of the phrases of the song
c) Premium: customize the entire song

You can personalize your songs and gift them as gifts on various occassions. meridhun claims to have orders starting at Rs 99.

As a concept I really liked the idea but only time will tell if it will be able to get enough eyeballs on its web site. This would definitely require a strong marketing effort to make it work. I think the team at meridhun.com should seriously look at having strategic tie ups with various community sites or local search engines to make this successful. A great example would be dhingana.com which actually came out with interesting widget that can be used to pull traffic.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Outlook Money - Guide to financial planning





Outlookmoney is another site in the league of various financial service providers in the Indian consumer marketplace. I somehow missed out covering this website in my initial reviews. I have been looking at this web site for over 2.5 years now and am pleased to see it evolving over time. If you have ever seen any small hand book on topics like "Retirement Planning", "Wealth Creation", "Insurance Planning" etc., you can fondly tie it back to outlook money. I think there's was the first publication in the most simplified manner that hit the Indian bookstores ever. So coming back to web site, this is purely a site for fresh entrants in the field of personal financial planning and investment management. The site covers a wide range of topics including stocks, mutual funds, taxation, real estate, banking, insurance, loans, retirement etc. It also includes various tools and calculators to help you quickly calculate various aspects related to financial planning and taxation.

I strongly recommend this web site to people who are absolutely new to the world of financial wisdom. And for all those who hate to read stuff in front of the computer, you can buy hard copies of the various publications through the web site.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Myirisplus - Your Indianised personal financial planner

myiris.com claims to be the owner of India's most comprehensive financial information databases, covering in-depth analysis of stocks, equity, mutual funds, loans, credit cards and commodity. The web site content is quite similar to other web sites that i have reviewed in past eg: moneycontrol.com, equitemaster.com, sharekhan.com. However, the biggest differentiator for myiris is myirisplus which is a personal financial software. In today's blog I would like to cover this exclusively primarily since this is the only company which has developed this much needed functionality. Myirisplus is a desktop application which can be downloaded from mmm.myiris.com. It is available for evaluation and is currently available at an offer price of Rs. 1800 for 12 months, for a family license of four users. So what can you do with myirisplus:
1. Consolidate different financial statements like banks, equity, MFs, FD's, loans, credit cards etc.
2. Track your investments
3. budget before spending
4. Plan your finances
5. evaluate various investment options
6. File your tax return
The software aims to cover the entire supply chain associated with personal finance management. It has four key features:
A. Consolidate financial records across multiple service providers
B. Generate tax returns and allow e-filing of returns
C. Draw a financial plan
D. Investment research

The software provides easy to use steps to guide user through all the four steps leading to effective financial planning and wealth creation. All one needs is to discipline his financial management habits and myirisplus can handle the rest !! After all its only a tool but an intelligent one :) !!

Try downloading it from here

Personal financial planning with iTrust.in




iTrust is a financial advisory services company based in the national capital region of Delhi which provides host of services like property search home loans, life insurance, health insurance , personal loans, mutual funds etc. The company defines its mission as "To help Indian families get rich" which is a very novel objective but need to be validated on the ground. The most important aspect of iTrust is its emphasis on the need for financial planning. The top level menu bar starts with "Financial Planning" item which says it all. A drill down into the financial planning segment presents you with guides related to tax planning and financial plans. There are couple of predefined sample financial plans as well. There is a segment called "free financial health checkup" which is sorted on the basis of various age groups. If you select a age group it will present you with a small questionnaire. Based on your response the system will provide with you appropriate recommendations. It will further give you with an option to consult a financial adviser by submitting a web request or through phone. A smart way of lead generation though :)
The site also provides you with options to search a property, and get it funded by offering best deals from various loan providers. You can compare deals from various service providers in other segments like life insurance, health insurance, FD's etc (reminds me of apnaloan.com). It is different from other web sites in two ways : one it does not provide content related to financial analysis, two it is quite simple to understand and get the required information without going through information clutter. I am not sure if its services are available all over India or only in Northern part but it is definitely a web site worth bookmarking !

Sunday, June 22, 2008

icicidirect.com is an online share trading web site from ICICI Securities Ltd. Its been on Indian e-space for many years now. The site contains news and analysis related to stocks, mutual funds, commodities in addition to giving the user the option to buy and sell stocks and mutual funds online. The site has a section called ICICI Direct University which provides user with an in-depth information on basics of investment in the financial world. The content is very simple and can be easily followed by a beginner. In addition to online trading you have the option to locate a icicidirect.com retail store for direct consultation with a financial adviser. Its definitely an ideal place for an average consumer to get started with his foray into the financial world. The web site though does not have any personal financial management solution/tool to manage your finances though it has number of calculators like tax planning, retirement planning, investment planning, savings etc which provide initial guidance to an average consumer.