Archive for August, 2015

Mobile drives the Spark in Startups (notes from MobileSparks conference)

Shradha Sharma of Yourstory.com asks the Startup community to maintain that Spark, regardless of where one is in the journey of life. That Spark may be humility or grace, appreciation for others, lending a helping hand etc. Essentially the point she made, and very well so, that in our “Rat Race” for success in life, perhaps we might have forgotten the more human elements, things which bind us together and a feeling of elevation. Shradha was speaking at the recent YourStory event Mobile Sparks in Bangalore.

I couldn’t agree more. In our quest for success, perhaps we might have forgotten to remember some old friends, or forgot the fact that a good night sleep is more worthwile than achieving a Unicorn status. Big statement, but I insist.

I think the subject is about balance. Nobody is saying that one must give up on one’s dreams. But it must not drive consternation to a level that one forgets the basics of humanity – a desire to do good, be kind, have a positive impact and effect larger good. As many have said, a Startup needs to have an objective larger than valuation, or a profit or loss statement. It is about “value creation” at the end of the day, to quote my friend Manish.

Ok, with that, I come back to the startup notes. The recently concluded event MobileSparks by Yourstory had some great speakers from most of the leading firms – Flipkart, Snapdeal, Grofers, Practo, OYO Rooms, Peppertap, SAIF partners, Inventus, Matrix Partners etc.

Here are some sundry highlights from this event :

Freecharge – Initial adoption strategy – Make first transaction brag-worthy. Eg give away a burger for first recharge.
App installs is not a good metric. Transactions is good metric.

OYO rooms
OYO is envisioning a future of amazing hotel experience. Some potential ideas :
- Manages entire hotel experience.
- App – does booking. Shows nearby restaurants, gets you cab with Ola cab widget,
- Ops team does background audit regularly of hotels
- Alerts – eg room 345 not audited since last three weeks or 5 acs in a hotel broke down
- Correlation between auditor reports and customer feedback audits auditors themselves
- If AC is broken open ticket to get electrician automatically
- Pre-check in from airport. Submit ID card picture before even you reach.
- Could alert property manager that customer is about to reach.
- Mobile key to door
- Reminder to turn on AC or heater from before. Mobile can store customer temperature preference.
- Connect to WiFi automatically.
- Mobile motion sensors based DND (do not disturb). Check if person is sleeping and motionless.
- Checkout from app. Pay from mobile wallet. Feedback on the go on app.

Matrix partners (VC) :-
App distribution -
- Inmobi ads, AdMob, Adwords
- OEMS like micromax lava etc
- App stores.
- Facebook ads
- Google ads
- App Store optimisation or ASO

Lybrate :-
Online consultation app for patients and doctors
- Very less doctors in India compared to patients.
- X axis :- Online, offline
Y axis :-
Discovery – find practitioners
Transaction – create transaction
Delivery – participate in delivery or actual doctor patient communication / consultation
Lybrate is in online healthcare delivery space.
- Got doctors first ie supply first. Then demand ie consumers etc.
- Need hooks on supply side to hold doctors while demand builds up.
Opportunities :-
- Lot has happened in discovery already.
- Transaction and delivery side is left. Healthcare devices can be used. Consumer hardware is big area.
- 70 million diabetes patients in India. Devices for them.
- Revenue model – online consultation commission from user – 5% to 15% of doctor fee.

Flipkart :-
Piyush Ranjan. SVP. Flipkart.
Key idea :- Build a Cathedral. Not walls or bricks.
Eg -
Build for phones with no data. SMS or USSD as underlying protocols. Also phone to phone connection.
Eg -
Reliability is in short supply. Eg IRCTC is not reliable.
Eg -
Build for the low end.
Eg -
Building speed as a feature. Eg google suggest and google instant.
Eg -
A broad base need like education.
So far mostly online classrooms. But how about continuous learning which mimics human whole life ?

Practo
healthcare app for doctors and patients.
Started web-only in 2008. Mobile first now.
Mobile search -
2 lakh doctors
2x non metros
3x conversions
3x engagement
Weekend traffic
UGC declined in mobile though compared to web. Consumers write smaller reviews on mobile compared to web. Struggling with this now.

Practo ray
40000 doctors
2x appnts
3x records
3x engagements

Practo tab
Helps in locking in supply
20% richer data

Practo
10 million searches

Snapdeal
Anand Chandrasekaran, Chief Product Officer
- 19 m registered users
- 1.5 L sellers (I am told less than 10000 are active, more on this in a later post)
- wants to achieve 10L sellers in few years (how many will be active ?)
- 5m daily active users
- Freecharge – 2 out of 3 visitors end up transacting

Other ideas that were discussed :
125 million English speaking Indians. Leaves a billion non-English users. Need to tackle them.
300 million internet users in India currently. To grow to half billion internet users in 2-3 years. Mostly via Mobile Web.

 

August 10th, 2015

The Startup Nation

Today India witnesses a unique revolution. It is like another freedom movement, a moment par excellence. A new Silicon Valley is created among the potholed roads, roaming cows, un-interested traffic cops and massive traffic jams. What a combination ?

Who would have thought that amid the chaos of this ancient country and the cacophony of auto noise and massive no of folks everywhere, slowly and surely, a new breed of entrepreneurs emerges – providing hope to a beleaguered nation that our time has come, perhaps !

I picture the Founders of Snapdeal, in their early days, waiting outside that restaurant in Delhi, in Delhi’s terrible heat, for the restaurant owner to come out and so that they can clinch a deal, a coupon which they can send by email (or was it paper coupons) to their growing email audience. Even they did not imagine that their amazing commitment to their mission would create a $5 billion behemoth that Snapdeal is today with 5000 jobs, several paying crore (or nearly there) packages.

The folks at InMobi, now giving Google and Facebook a run for their money with the new Miip tech platform, or the Bansals at Flipkart – packing books in their Koramangala apartment and now disrupting the retail in India, as we know it.

How about the dozens (hundreds ?) of captive units in BLR and Gurgaon by every foreign (mostly American ?) MNC worth it’s salt.

Not to say, this is Round 1. The latter happened in 80s and 90s, with Murthy of Infosys and Premji of Wipro, not to discount the TCS, the largest of them all.

Certainly this is Round 2. and what a Round ? Billion dollar valuation becoming an operating unit – a dream which is now seen by thousands of new wannabe entrepreneurs. Driven by almost 900 mobile subscriptions – a fifth of world total almost. Certainly mobile is driving this growth.

Mobile web penetration went from 2 million to 200 million from 2009 to 2015. PC Web penetration increased 20 million to 40 million in same period. 100 times growth in mobile web, 2 time growth in PC Web.

Certainly mobile is to blame, or praise, for this upheaval. That and Whatsapp – the app which brought mobile web to the lowest rung of the society, and as far as everybody’s grandma, who can barely handle a smarphone, but is adept at Whatsapp.

Well, this is the beginning. The revolution just begins. Hordes of rich foreign investors, PE funds, hedge funds, are still not here with their billions, or trillions. They will be, soon perhaps. We will be waiting, for our piece of the dream !

August 6th, 2015


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