On Road to the Transformation of Roomations

by Pragya Yadav

Chicago based startup of SLP fellow, Lakshmi Bhargave, Roomations, was recently awarded a $20,000 investment from Start Garden an unconventional venture capital fund that invests in many ideas in small increments. Till date, it has invested more than $6 million into startup companies. At Start Garden, entrepreneurs present their experiment and receive feedback. Roomations initially received a $5000 investment to check the viability of their project over a 90-day period. “We were impressed at (their) disciplined approach to run tests in the market, find out what was or wasn’t working and then iterate from there” said Kim Pasquino, portfolio manager at Start Garden. “We think this idea has a ton of potential, differing ways to monetize it, and we are excited to proceed with a $20,000 investment. We have confidence that if it can be figured out, this team will do it.”

What is Roomations?

Roomations is a  tech startup that crowd-sources freelance interior designers to provide clients from different walks of life easy access to custom, personalized online design consultation for the level of service most appropriate for their needs. The designers create 3D photorealistic renderings of rooms, and tag products displayed in the designs with real products available at big  retailers to create a customized shopping list. Roomations facilitates the designers’ search for clients and income while providing retailers a sales channel through which there’s virtual placement of products in consumer homes. The trio of founders includes- Katie Miller, Jessica Goldberg and Lakshmi. They met while pursuing their masters at the University of Michigan and that’s when they knew they wanted to start a business together. “Co-founders are essential. Lakshmi and Jessica have skills, knowledge and networks that are nothing like mine yet very complementary. None of us could’ve started Roomations on our own and gotten where we are today,” says Katie. For them, taking this forward just requires the virtues of perseverance and overflowing optimism.

Sources

  1. http://www.builtinchicago.org/blog/roomationscom-launches-chicago

  2. https://gust.com/companies/roomations

  3. http://www.nicolewilliams.com/career_and_money/living-the-dream-Roomations

  4. http://startgarden.com/news

Pragya Yadav is part of our talented team of Marketing Interns.

She is a second year student of Lady Sri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi, is currently pursuing Economics. She has an enthusiastic and a passionate footballer and has represented her school, state and college at various tournaments from the past 5 years. In spite of being a resident of Delhi she loves to explore the city through the lens of a traveler. She’s a project executive at Enactus in her college. Enactus is a worldwide community of students and business leaders who enable progress for themselves and the community through entrepreneurial- based projects that empower people to transform opportunities into real sustainable models. On weekends, she volunteers with Becoming I where she’s a project coordinator and she teaches underprivileged kids sports.

A Cheaper Alternative to Civet Coffee, the Foie Gras of Its Kind.

By Trisha Pande

cat-poop-coffee.jpg

http://catpoopcoffeeinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/cat-poop-coffee.jpg

THE CONTEXT

A civet is a wild cat found in Indonesia. The notable feature of this cat is that it digests, processes and then excretes coffee berries using its stomach which leads to the brewing of kopi luwak as mankind knows it. Civet Coffee, thus, is highly expensive and is known as the most expensive coffee in the world, costing about $700 per kilo!

This steamy and outrageously costly mug of coffee also attaches itself to a lot of controversy, as PETA criticizes producers who often cage the civets and pass the coffee berries that they process as being produced by ‘wild animals’. In the Indonesian Archipelago, Java, Sumatra, Bali and Sulawesi are some of the islands that produce kopi luwak. Philippines and East Timor are also great contributors to the making of civet coffee, but it is known by different names in these differing regions.

THE CONCEPT
Our very own SLP Boston Fellow, Camille Delebecque, founder and CEO of SynBio consulting, has devised a method to make coffee that is quite similar to kopi luwak, which also has the bonus of being less astringent and bitter and comes with a better aroma. There is a multi-dimension to the good news – the civet cat can now be excluded from the process of manufacturing the coffee and this coffee shall be significantly cheaper when it hits the markets – around $50 a pound!

civet_003.jpg

Camille and Sohpie (source: http://www.wired.com)

THE PROCESS

According to Delebecque, the process is not synthetic at present and is entirely natural. A fermentation process is conducted on the coffee beans, which is inspired by the digestion process that takes place in the stomach of the civet – involving the breaking down of proteins by enzymes that the stomach naturally contains. The company, called Afineur, that Delebecque and fellow food scientist, Sophie Deterre, have set up to sell the beans, uses a very careful selection of microbes to mimic the process, wherein the fermentation takes two days once the beans have been roasted.

THE COMPANY
SynBio Consulting has been founded by Camille Delebecque and specializes in the consulting of synthetic biology projects, as the name suggests. The company’s functional and industry expertise helps to take their clients projects from the Research and Development phase into the market sphere. Their rapid development of synthetic Biology allows their clients to access academic, industrial and societal benefits, along with recognizing the fact that each client is different and can have different needs that the company tailors to. Additionally, the company is known for adapting itself to the specific mission at hand and assembling the best resources to combat challenges.

THE DEBATE  
Many undercover reporters in Indonesia have noted the horrible conditions that manufacturers of kopi luwak keep the cats in. The cats are often badly injured and kept in battery-style conditions which contradict the claims that say the coffee is made naturally. Dr. Neil D’Cruze, of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, commented that the cats appeared “absolutely depressed and miserable”. The cages that the cats were kept in were also extremely terrible – being barren and filthy with no place for the cats to move around or climb. The problem is, this highly expensive coffee does sell and is popular, but there is a great deal of confusion as to the conditions of the civets. Sari Makmur, an Indonesian export company that buys the coffee from the alleged battery style farmers, says that the firm does ask whether the coffee is wild, but they cannot always check and control whether the farmers claims were valid. The coffee sells for $50 to $80 a cup, so there seems to be a lot of animal exploitation afoot.The fact remains that synthetic coffee is not exactly the same as civet coffee yet, but in many ways it can prove to be even better.

THE VERDICT
Wired.com recently did an article on the synthetic coffee that Affineur was working on, and they declared that the difference between the two was obvious. The fermented beans were found to be, indeed, less astringent and bitter than the original coffee and even less acidic. Even though the pH balance is the same, the fermentation process changes the proportions of different acids. Thus, it seems to be that this fermented coffee that is made in labs is actually better tasting and less expensive than the original kopi luwak, but its future remains to be seen once it has been sampled by a greater population.

References :
1)http://www.wired.com/2014/10/civet-coffee-without-civets/
2)http://motherboard.vice.com/read/a-synthetic-bio-startup-is-making-cat-poop-coffee-without-the-poop-or-the-cat
3)http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/10/08/civet_coffee_world_s_most_expensive_coffee_made_cheaper_by_science_with.html
4)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak
5)http://synbioconsulting.com/about-us/
6)http://www.jakpost.travel/news/the-story-behind-the-most-expensive-gourmet-coffee-in-the-world-kopi-luwak-FjIv1TwVxa59eNs7.html
7)http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-24034029

Trisha is part of SLP’s talented team of Marketing Interns. 

She is a first year Sociology student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women by day and a dreamer by night. She takes an active interest in participating in activities pertaining to writing and researching. Books constitute a very integral part of her life, and she prefers reading about diverse subjects. Currently, she enjoys reading about the condition of women in the Middle Eastern countries because the vast difference in global cultures enthrals her. She is a correspondent for her college magazine and occasionally does content writing for different societies like NSS. Animals spark her interest, and she volunteers at the Friendicoes shelter. She enjoys interacting with her fellow interns and spitballing ideas.

SLP Delhi : Growth Hacking/Sales Workshop – How to get your first 1000 customers

Fellow Blog by Vikramaditya Singh

October 18th 2014

Speakers:

Mr. Chandan Gupta (Founder, PhoneWarrior)

Mr. Kapil Nakra (Co-Founder, Digital Vidya)

Mr. Rahul Dev (TechCorp Legal LLP, SLP Fellow 2014)

Class CEO: Vikramaditya Singh, Siddharth Gupta

Siddharth and I were lucky enough to conduct this week’s session on Growth Hacking and Sales. Apart from the tremendous overall learning that comes with being CEO for a session, it taught us a great deal about growth hacking itself. We had 2 great speakers on the topic present with us. Mr. Chandan Gupta, Founder at Phone Warrior, enlightened us with his initial struggles and helped us understand how he grew Phone Warrior to the behemoth it is today, with over 400 million users within 2 years. Hearing him give a first hand account of growth hacks he used was extremely insightful. Our second speaker was Mr. Kapil Nakra, Co-Founder of Digital Vidya, which provides online training seminars on everything digital! He enlightened us with know-how’s required for one to establish digital marketing and customer acquisition strategies on a shoestring budget.

For the second half of the session, we decided to access the vast knowledge pool available within the SLP family. We asked our own SLP fellows, past and present, to talk about individual topics that can help a startup scale growth quickly without dipping too much into it’s limited budget. These talks ranged on topics from SEO, Blogging, A/B Testing, Mobile Growth Hacks and Email Marketing among others. The highlight of the session was the bonus deep dive into personal branding and leveraging social media for personal and professional growth. We were privileged to have our very own Mr. Amit Mishra (CEO- F6S, India and Program Leader-SLP Delhi) and Mr. Rahul Dev (TechCorp Legal and SLP Fellow 2014, Delhi) give invaluable insights on how to leverage LinkedIn and Twitter for personal branding and growth. The talks focused on best practices and techniques used to properly use these platforms to connect with influencers and help grow your personal and professional worth.

We’re extremely grateful to the speakers, who took time out from their schedule and came to shed light on a topic that will definitely help us entrepreneurs tackle the “elusive” initial customer base. The Startup Leadership Program has been fantastic so far and we are all excited to continue this journey with our esteemed peers and friends!

Vikramaditya is an Electronics and Communication Engineer by qualification who subsequently worked in the telecom sector. He started Parkify, a mobile app that helps users to search and book available parking spots. He has been involved with Parkify for 8 months now and plans to launch the product by October. A sportsman at heart, he is ready for a pickup Basketball game when the time allows and is also is a self taught guitarist.

NDTV Profit features SLP Delhi Fellow, Shikha Suman

By: Mitali Mathur

It is indeed a proud moment for the entire SLP family as one of our fellows has been featured on an NDTV Profit Show- Heads Up! Congratulations to Shikha Suman, SLP Fellow and Co- Program Leader at the Delhi Chapter: Founder of Sampling Research.

Heads Up: Idea Validation

This particular episode on Heads Up was about Idea Validation of product ideas by startups-the techniques used by them to check the feasibility of their product and obtain valuable feedback. An idea should always be tried and tested by those who will use it.

We bring to you the highlights of her interactions on the show:

Birth of Sampling Research

A PhD from IIT Kanpur, Shikha always wanted a job where she could fruitfully utilize the research skills that she developed during her PhD. Post her PhD, she carefully studied the research industry- its working and its key players, both big and small. Through her study, she discovered a huge gap : companies did want to get research done for their products or for entering new markets, but at the same time were quite hesitant as research involved huge costs. Shikha, thus, decided to position herself in this gap and began Sampling Research!

Sampling Research is basically a market research firm that provides companies with quality research and expertise at much cheaper costs than their competitors, and is now among the Top10 in the country. They generally work with pharmaceutical companies and help them know the feasibility of their products-will the customers buy it, competitors, are the chemists willing to sell it etc.

Work in Progress

In order to provide better services for their clients, Sampling Research thought of developing an Application to map the supply chain – this application would be available on phones, laptops and PCs and chemists could order their products through it. This order would directly go to the distributors, thereby cutting the supply chain short. They proposed to give this application free of cost to the chemists and suppliers, since they stood to benefit from the huge data collected in this project anyway.

Product Validation

For this, they designed a questionnaire for the chemists – about their billing, procurement and maintenance of stock – asking them if they would use an application like this it were to be provided free to them.

Feedback

Through this process, they learnt that many chemists were not that technology savvy, used phones and laptops minimally and would rather prefer a phone call system. Thus, they got a new idea of setting of IVR Call Centres, in addition to the Applications.

Shikha’s Success Mantra: JUST DO IT!

She strongly believes that if somebody has decided to do something, then they better go and achieve it rather than just talk about it. Once you are out in the market, you learn, you fall and you get back up! Pondering on how to do it and when to do it will not help, JUST DO IT!

Her Experience on the Show

Shikha is elated to have been on the show ‘Heads Up’ and says “It has been a wonderful experience! This show is a great platform to reach out to millions of people and let them know about your work. As startups are never too keen on spending on PR, I hope to get good PR for my startup through this.”

Watch the video here.

Mitali Mathur is part of our talented team of Marketing Interns.
She is a first year student at Lady Shri Ram College For Women, Delhi University. LSR has opened up a plethora of opportunities for her and she is happily engaged in NSS(ICS), department’s editorial and design teams, college sponsorships, Enactus C&M team, Spanish certificate course and the SLP internship. She is passionate about fine arts,social work and food as an industry. She values human relationships and aspires to become an HR Professional. 

Product Launch : Mind Tickle’s Latest

By: Aashna Chauhan

A quest screen from MindTickle for Sales

Awarded GSummit’s GAward for “Best Use of Engagement Techniques in Human Resources” for the second year in a row and founded by SLP Mumbai Fellow Mohit Garg, MindTickle, on October 14, announced at Dreamforce’ 14 that it has rebuilt its generalised, cloud-based training platform into one designed for “sales readiness.”

MindTickle is a Pune based startup that has a vision of creating a lasting value at the intersection of fun and learning. It intends to deliver “Delightful learning and engagement experiences” by creating a suite of Enterprise Gamification SaaS ( Software-as-a-service) products, for collaborative learning and team engagement, using an engaging social gaming experience that is enjoyable for users, yet hassle-free and cost-effective for the company.

Its newest innovation, MindTickle for Sales intends to turn existing training material into something more engaging. The Co-founder, Mohit Garg told VentureBeat “The sales on-boarding process is broken”, while also pointing to the current disjointed use of webinars, wikis etc.An interesting feature is the “lifeline” button, which allows the system to help out when summoned, in addition to point-scoring, leaderboards etc.

MindTickle has a two-fold intention: on-boarding new sales reps and keeping them up-to-date about new products, as well as the competition. “Even within a gaming context, the workflow of a new product or of an existing company process is maintained”, says Mohit Garg.Preparing for a sales pitch and learning to handle issues that might come up are also included in the sales training.

The older learning management systems (LMSs), such as Cornerstone on Demand or Litmos rely heavily on Q&A and other standard online learning formats and cannot match gamification for engagement. Similarly, other software-as-a-service (SaaS) -based learning platforms such as Brainshark do not emphasize gamification and are not exclusively for sales rep onboarding.

A Chinese proverb says: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”  The gap continues to grow between antiquated, passive training methods and a workforce that lives an ever more interactive, multimedia, user-controlled lifestyle. With game-based learning tools to bridge that gap comes the promise of vastly more productive and engaged students and workers—ones who embrace learning rather than view it as a disruptive burden.

Check out MindTickle here.

Sources:

http://yourstory.com/2012/04/mindtickle-enriching-employee-learning-and-engagement/

http://venturebeat.com/2014/10/14/mindtickles-newest-platform-wants-to-add-fun-to-the-training-of-sales-reps/

http://www.newmedia.org/game-based-learning–what-it-is-why-it-works-and-where-its-going.html

Aashna Chauhan is part of SLP’s talented team of Marketing Interns..She is pursuing B.Com Honours from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and believes that her internship is preparing her well. She is inspired by Warren Buffet and hopes to meet him one day. If she were to describe herself in one word, it would be sincere. Aashna loves travelling to different countries and exploring their diverse yet fascinating cultures.

UBERSENSE ACQUIRED BY NEBRASKA BASED HUDL

By : Trisha Pande

Ubersense, founded by Boston Fellow, Krishna Ramachandran, was acquired by Hudl, a sports team software company.

ABOUT UBERSENSE

logo-9488354883aba65624d5ab6fc4085207.gifUbersense is an application that provides slow-motion analysis for its users for all sports – golf, bowling, baseball, tennis, basketball and crossfit training to name a few.

Started in 2011, the team at Ubersense said that it had a vision to provide world class coaching to all. With hard work and dedication over the years, it boasts of 2.5 million downloads ranging over 50 sports and 150 countries.

Krishna Ramachandran, founder and CEO is a Boston fellow at the Startup Leadership Program. He describes himself as a passionate golfer and aspiring triathlete. He met his co-founder, Amit Jardosh at a Computer Science PhD program. The year was 2004.
Ramachandran wanted to play golf as tactfully as Tiger Woods, but he felt that his performance was not up to mark. After charting out the problems that he faced in his game, he built the application for his own use and asked Amit for help to improve upon it.
As the years rolled by, Ubersense’s success has been unparalleled and they have received many notations – such as Olympic teams crediting their wins to the app and a blind baseball team using the app to prepare for nationals.

ABOUT HUDL

hudl_black.pngThe company that has acquired Ubersense, called Hudl, is the leading provider of video analysis software for sports teams. It uses any mobile device to record the footage, which gives the players the added advantage of not having to worry about carrying around bulky cameras. It has a ton of added features such as adding notes to the video and sharing them with coaches, creating new opportunities by sharing the videos for college scholarships, easily exchanging the videos and so on.

The difference between the two is the audience that each caters to – where Ubersense focuses on individuals, Hudl occupies its time with teams.
Because of these reasons, it made sense to combine a smaller company like Ubersense with a bigger giant like Hudl – so that now both of them can come together with their mutual aspirations and goals. The Head of Product at Hudl, John Wirtz, personally approached Ubersense to make this deal.

THE WAY FORWARD

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Krishna Ramachandran-Founder, Ubersense

Ubersense has declared that their goals are unchanged, and that they shall continue to provide the app for free. Their primary goal still remains providing amazing resources to encourage talent. The Ubersense team has further announced that the wait for Android users will soon be over, as they are going to roll out an Android based version of the app on the Google Play Store this fall. The good news does not finish here, as iOS users can rejoice too, because Ubersense is working towards enhancements for both the iOS 8 and the new iPhones 6 and 6 plus. Also, they have talked about the introduction of even more professional videos in the upcoming months. An interesting time for all, it remains to be seen how this acquisition will present itself in the upcoming versions of the app.

ABOUT THE MOBILE APPLICATION INDUSTRY

Apps that help their users to track their performance via slow motion videos are quite popular on appstores. Coach’s Eye, Dartfish Express and V1 Golf are some of the other apps that allow this.

Mobile applications are actually pretty lucrative in this day and age. Many companies acquire applications that spawn themselves out over a number of users and are immensely popular.

Recently, Whatsapp was bought by Facebook for $22 billion. The reasons to do so were cited as sharing a mission to bring greater connectivity and utility for users. An interesting fact is that the founders of Whatsapp were rejected jobs at Facebook years ago. Moovel also acquired Ridescout and MyTaxi apps, proving that the giants in the mobile app industry are always on the lookout for brilliant, smaller applications that are doing well and are willing to sell and do business with them. This integration helps them to pool all of their resources together and build a much better app for their users.

Sources:

http://blog.ubersense.com/2014/09/17/ubersense-is-joining-the-hudl-team/
http://public.hudl.com/blog/2014/09/ubersense-announce-917/
http://www.ubersense.com/about
http://www.techstars.com/founder-stories-ubersense/
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hudl-acquires-video-analysis-company-ubersense-275479371.html
http://recode.net/2014/09/17/hudl-acquires-ubersense-the-slow-motion-video-coaching-app/
http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2014/09/17/ubersense-acquired-by-hudl-boston-based-sports-video-media-company-bought-by-nebraska-company-for-large-price/

BEHIND EVERY SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR ARE ACTIONS THAT SPEAK BETTER THAN WORDS

A free wheeling discussion with Radhika Rai

Fellow Blog by Rajesh Menon

What do you get when you put 25 start-up entrepreneurs in a room along with four other successful entrepreneur professionals? You set the room afire. Which is what happened at the recent Startup Leadership Program (SLP)session held on 11th of October.

The session was supposed to cover customer development & marketing aspects but quickly turned into a free-wheeling discussions as entrepreneurs pounced on every insights that the speakers had and kept asking for more.

As usual I had my misgivings on the subject matter. After all here I was with over 20 years of hardcore marketing experience coming to a session where I would have to listen to people expound on marketing. I was a bit curious too. The curiosity and misgivings turned into sheer delight as the speakers came on.

Our first speaker was Nikunj Jain of Frankly Me- a mobile social network that allows people to ask and answer questions in text or video anonymously. A techno wizard, Nikunj held everyone spellbound as he took the class through the intricacies of developing the initial customer throughput spanning his stints with Inoxapps and then more recently with Frankly Me.

From techno geekiness we oscillated towards our own homegrown global firm Zomato.com the restaurant review site that’s making news. Radhika Rai  gave a up-close & personal overview of the struggles and ultimate success that Zomato had during its early days when it launched. She went on to explain the number of times Zomato got their marketing completely wrong in various countries. As the class of startup entrepreneurs kept hitting Radhika with questions, she rose to the occasion answering queries that ranged from how they got their first initial breakthrough to how they priced themselves in various international markets.  But the clear insight that came through the two hour long interactive session was something which I believe every marketer needs to hold close to his heart.

1. Persevere in what you do.

Nothing come easy or quickly & perseverance is the key to success. The Tipping point in any marketing initiative or customer development program is usually a few months down the line. More good ideas are lost on the way due to people giving up on them rather than on the idea being bad.

2. Customer insights.

Much before market research and big data were nice words, marketers used to talk to consumers. And that is what Zomato did. Knowing what your customer thinks, feels and wants is more than half the battle won when it comes to developing your product or service to fit the customer needs.

Great insights that most of us tend to either overlook or forget in our MBA led jargonized work life.

Session in progress @SLP Delhi

Post lunch, two more speakers came on board and once again delighted everyone with their clear insights on customer development and marketing. One such speaker was Vijay Singh the CEO and Managing Director of Aaram Shop. Vijay was a delightful speaker sharing not just his successes but also his abject failures candidly with everyone.

Vijay is a pillar in the still young marketing services agency business having founded his first startup in 1996 in the marketing services industry. A successful exit happened when the firm was acquired by 141 Communications. Aaram Shop was his 2nd venture and hearing a veteran entrepreneur especially one from the marketing industry speak of the challenges he had and still facing was the highlight of the entire day.

Along with Vijay were two other startup entrepreneurs- Geetanjali Barman of Scholarkart and Ashotosh Malik of Aaram Shop. Along with Vijay they shared their deep insights of what it takes to grow a successful start up from scratch.

By the end of the session it was clear that my earlier misgivings was entirely unfounded and the net take out which I would go to the extent of asking my readers to ingrain into their startup as a 1-2-3 rule.

1. Talk to your customers. You cant go wrong if you talk to your customers regularly. Get to know them and tailor your product or service to fit what they want and not what you believe that need.

Speakers making a point

2. It’s okay not to succeed when you try something new.  More often than not I have seen people get into depression when something or the other doesn’t seem to work despite best efforts. We tend to blame our luck or the environment or the govt…usually in that order. However the most successful marketers and entrepreneurs are those that quickly put the un-successful part of their work behind them and look forward to the next.

3. Create Value before you think of pricing. What is the value that your customer has for your product or service? Does it really serve a value to him? If there is no significant value finding the right price can often be challenging. Zomato brought real value to their customers by providing consumers a platform to give their reviews of the restaurants they went to. Aaram shop brought real value to brands by bringing them last mile connectivity with thousands of mom & pop retail outlets. Think Value before you think pricing.

Sounds easy right? I would guess so. But how many actually do mirror these three things religiously in their work life? I guess only the successful ones do! Which is why they are successful in the first place!

So until next time, keep practicing the 1-2-3 rule!

Ciao !

SLP Fellow’s “Social StartUp” Successfully Raises Second Round of Funding

By: Vishesha Singh

photo1.jpg“Let’s Recycle” is an initiative of NEPRA Resource Management Pvt. Ltd., a social enterprise working for improving waste management and recycling methods in organisations by collecting, segregating, and sending the recyclables to authorised recyclers. Let’s Recycle was founded by SLP Fellow, Sandeep Patel and his co founders-  Chirag Patel, Dhrumin Patel and Ravi Patel. It has revolutionized dry waste collection and management in Ahmedabad.

Patel has been an expert in the environmental field, having closely examined the production of waste. Patel shared his business model three years back with around 17 venture capitalists for funding, out of which most of them refused to invest until Aavishkaar Venture Management Services (Aavishkaar), which operates different funds focusing on rural and semi-urban areas, agreed to invest in Nepra last year.

Nepra has developed a cloud-based enterprise resource planning system and a smartphone application that connects its employees with clients. The app, yet in its beta stage, records and presents online the quantity of waste collected. The clients are informed of the quantity, commodity and carbon emission produced by this waste, keeping them more socially informed and environmentally conscious. Sandeep hopes to add more features to the app to improve its user friendliness.

photo3.jpg

Sandeep Patel is optimistic enough in “hoping to raise more funds in the near future to fuel expansion”. It is a challenging arena, with possible hurdles in execution and scaling up the business’ level, but as their angel seed investor- Aavishkar Venture Funds, puts it, in Let’s Recycle there is a potential of growth to a “value chain of collection” to involve rag pickers into the mainstream arena. Patel is hoping to consolidate his business in Ahmedabad completely. Last year, the company recorded a turnover of Rs 1.68 crore, against Rs 40 lakh in 2011-12, the first year of operations. Looking at his further expansion models, Patel says that he is “looking at developing a franchising model where people can use our knowledge and IT infrastructure, training material which we have developed in the last five-six years”. He hopes to be the “enabler of the waste management industry”.

Although Patel does not reveal much about his investment and fund raising sources, it is learnt that Aavishkar is a constant support, reportedly having acquired a 15% stake. It is believed that Aavishkar will be a repeated investor.

Social entrepreneurship has never been a popular choice, but Let’s Recycle under Nepra, is a refreshing change. It works judiciously to make a difference, and works perfectly in the lines of a successful enterprise.

Sources:

http://www.entrepreneurindia.com/magazine/2014/march/Starting-up-From-trash_17-1-2/

http://www.vccircle.com/news/urban-infra/2014/02/10/aavishkaar-backed-nepra-resource-management-raising-close-7m

http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/a-clean-up-act-in-ahmedabad-114030300018_1.html

Reddit on the Front Page of the Internet

by : Pragya Yadav

www.mashable.com

Last Tuesday, the social networking and news sharing website, Reddit, announced that it had raised $50 million from investors which now gives the website a valuation of $500 million.

The San Francisco company, founded by college roommates, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, is an online portal where users vote on what stories and discussions are important. Stories can voted up or down by the users in the real time. Reddit had 174,088,361 users last month hailing from about 186 different countries. The website is known for its open nature and diverse user community that generate its content.

It was founded in 2005 as a Y Combinator company and acquired by Condé Nast Publications in October 2006. As of August 2012, Reddit operates as an independent entity. Although Advance Publications, parent company of Condé Nast is still its largest shareholder. During all of this time the company has operated on a tight budget resulting in it being perpetually understaffed and allowing it to work only on essential features. CEO, Yishan Wong, plans to use this money to hire more staff for product development, expand community management team, build out better moderation and community tools, expand mobile offerings, pay for growing technical infrastructure, and all other things it takes to support a huge and growing global internet community. This injection of funds in the company has been facilitated by Sam Walton (Y Combinator President), Alfred Lin (Sequoia Capital) and Marc Andreessen (Andreessen Horowitz) . Sam is one of the first of reddit users and member of the same YC batch as Steve and Alexis. Other investors include Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, Jared Leto, Jessica Livingston, Kevin and Julia Hartz, Mariam Naficy, Josh Kushner, Snoop Dogg, and Reddit CEO, Yishan Wong. In an unusual twist, investors in the round have proposed giving 10% of their shares to the Reddit community for helping to build the site and possibly increasing that amount over time.

14th Sept, Reddit Website

It is an organisation that firmly believes, “An investment like this doesn’t mean we’re rich or successful. Money can become worthless very quickly, value is something that is built over time through hard work. We believe in free speech, self-governing communities, and the power of voting. We find that this freedom yields more good than bad, and we have chosen investors based on this belief.”

AMA on Reddit

Possibly Reddit’s USP is AMA or Ask.Me.Anything that creates a forum which imports the aspirational norms of honesty and authenticity from pseudonymous Internet forums into a public venue with 2.5 million subscribers. Hundreds of people have offered themselves up to be interrogated via Reddit’s crowd-sourced question-and-answer sessions. These people come from across the world from completely diverse lifestyles.They range from the President of United States to a nanny, from a famous Hollywood actor to an adventure enthusiast, from a businessman to a pornstar. These generate the most intriguing stories as people go on to say or do things they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing in the social convention they are part of. This novel medium of social media inspires people to open up in the most delightful and engrossing manner as they’re on a platform where they have nothing to lose and there’s no one to mediate. Most social media forms find their roots in stuff people have long been doing. But there aren’t clear analogies for the AMA in previous media or social culture.

Not for Profit Sector

According to Allison Fine, author of Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age, in an email to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Where Reddit is great is raising an issue or concern, gathering some momentum for it that then transfers to Facebook or Twitter, where organizations are more comfortable engaging.” It offers a multitude of fundraising opportunity by recognizing and encouraging the philanthropic activities of its users.They helped run The Combined Community Charity Challenge, a competition between 4 Not-for-Profit organisations; Doctors Without Borders, The Children’s Miracle Network, Direct Relief, Engineers Without Borders. Where each subreddit worked towards raising as much money for their charities as possible. In the past it has also donated free adspace to some deserving groups groups of people, who would benefit from promotion on Reddit, such as small businesses and nonprofits. They also opened up their self-serve advertising platform to crowdfunding projects. So it’s clear that Reddit is offering something that could be very valuable to us in the nonprofit sector.

Sources:

  1. http://www.reddit.com/about/

  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ritusharma/turning-away-donations-fr_b_5819286.html?utm_hp_ref=reddit

  3. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/01/ama-how-a-weird-internet-thing-became-a-mainstream-delight/282860/

  4. http://www.redditblog.com/

Tech-Innovation in the News : Confess

By: Aashna Chauhan

Ranked among the Top 100 Technology start-ups by Red Herring and founded by SLP Bangalore fellow, Alan D’Souza, Vavia Technologies, on Wednesday July 30, announced the launch of ‘Confess’ – India’s First Anonymous Social Network App.

Confess is a social network application that helps you to – well, confess. Anything. Anonymously. Without any inhibitions. The app includes some interesting features : the integrated chat applet that enables one-to-one interaction between users and the topic specific confessions’ search, to name a few. It allows you to read, comment and vote on other people’s confessions as well.

Confess is an idea that has been borrowed from an application called Secret, the brainchild of former Square and Google employees, David Byttow and Chrys Bader, which was launched on 21 May. Secret’s concept is the same—users can share any secret, anonymously. The application does have its limitations, though. “I love Secret, but it is frustrating. I cannot search for posts that interest me, there is no search functionality,” said one anonymous user on the platform. It is here that D’Souza hopes to score over Secret. Confess, he said, can show popular posts and posts from the same neighborhood—whether you are friends with the person or not. It also allows users to create anonymous groups—similar to forum threads—that anybody can join.

Alan D Souza, Founder & CEO of Vavia Technologies said that with the growth and reach of social media, today it’s becoming increasing difficult to communicate anything without being judged. Confess is a unique app that allows you to reach out to your entire network without having to reveal your identity. It’s time to move beyond the confession pages on Facebook and consolidate all your thoughts on a single platform. On the very first day, people spent 2500 hours using India’s first anonymous social network and the beta version, launched on 18 July, saw about 5,000 downloads in 24 hours.

“Confess has been one of the most entertaining apps I’ve used till date,” said Abhijit D.J., one of the beta users and an engineering college student in Bangalore. “It was surprising to see the content my friends were posting anonymously. It was like I was getting to know my friends all over again. Also, the local confessions is an amusing feature in this app.” The app shows the tag “Friend” or “Friend of friend” when it is posted by friends circles.

THE MOBILE APP INDUSTRY
The mobile app industry was absent in the year 2007 and now, the average consumer spends 162 minutes per day using apps and that speaks volumes about how bright the future of apps really is. Apple launched its App Store in the year 2008 with 800 apps and 10 million downloads. On April 13, 2014, the number of available apps has increased to 1 million and downloads have risen to 70 billion. Mobile apps are expected to see more than 268 billion downloads and generate revenue of over $77 billion by 2017, becoming one of the most popular computing tools, according to technology research firm, Gartner. For anonymity-driven apps that want to achieve success, tech-savvy consumers say there are multiple challenges to overcome before they get there. “I have a feeling unless many new functionalities or active moderation creeps into these anonymous, no-identity apps, posts on them will just become full of explicit content.” said Rishabh Kaul, head of business development, Grey Orange Pvt Ltd.

This chart by mobile analytics company Flurry shows that people spend 86% of their time on iOS and Android devices in apps. The mobile browser only accounts for 14% of our time now. A year ago, 80% of time was spent in apps, and 20% was in the mobile browser. So, in other words, as stated in the Business Insider, “The Mobile Web Is Dead, It’s All About The Apps”.

Download Confess here.