Showing posts from April, 2017

Spreading the Word

Google India has launched its startup hand-holding program called "Solve for India" in Pune focusing on tier-II cities (Pune, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Indore, Nagpur, Nashik, Madurai, Kanpur and Chennai) in India and on entrepreneurs who cater mainly to regional language speaking customers. This is the next part of Google's program for entrepreneurs having concentrated on Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore so far. 
"In the past 8-10 months, we have seen an increasing trend of entrepreneurship activity in tier-II cities...The penetration of Internet (due to low cost) has accelerated the pace of Internet usage on smartphone," says Karthik Padmanabhan, Google India. When he was questioned why Google is getting involved in India's startup ecosystem, Padmanabhan said that there has been huge growth in Internet usage, local language apps are needed to engage the audience. Google India will focus on sectors like Agri-tech, Healthcare, Transportation, Education…

India's E-commerce Sector goes International

Amazon, Flipkart and Paytm get ready for an international battle in India's e-commerce sector. Paytm Ecommerce, which operates Paytm Mall, the online marketplace which emerged from Paytm owner One 97 Communications, has appointed Ravi Adusumalli of SAIF Partners and Alibaba Group's senior director of finance Jason Pak Tung Yip; secretary and general counsel at Alibaba Group Holding Timothy A Steinert; former director of Europe and present executive director at Alibaba Entrepreneurs Hong Kong Mei Ki Cindy Chow Lok and CEO of Alibaba's payments subsidiary Ant Financials Jing Xiandong on its board of directors. They are joining Paytm founder, Vijay Shekhar Sharma and vice-president Amit Sinha on the board. The platform has just raised $177 million from Alibaba and also has Ant Financial as an investor.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar - IdeaIndia.Com

SIDBI Growth in Indian VC Funding

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has grown as a domestic investor in VC funds. India's VC industry has increasingly found SIDBI to be on the ball with funding and understanding VC needs and this is a good step forward for India's domestic venture capital industry, which has mostly been dependent on overseas investment.
"With external money, there is always a fluid situation. Sometimes, it is in one economy, and sometimes it is funding another destination. Also, overseas investors end up bearing the currency risk as much of their returns get eaten away due to currency depreciation. Additionally, the flavour of investments keeps dangling between the early and late stages, and across favourite sectors," says Ajay Kumar Kapur, deputy managing director at SIDBI.
The rising interest in SIDBI as a source of capital is clear as there is an increase in the number of sanctions and capital commitments to fund managers in the last couple of years.  "The o…

The Rising Son

Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing is getting a further billions for its war chest. SoftBank has probably led the deal. SoftBank, founded by Masayoshi Son, has been at the forefront of many publicised startup deals. SoftBank is also expected to lead $1.5 billion funding for Grab, Singapore's ride-hailing service.
Didi Chuxing is getting ready for battle with Uber. And Masayoshi Son will be there just as he is with India's e-commerce battle between Flipkart and Amazon.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar - IdeaIndia.Com

Desi Content to Fuel Growth in India

Indian languages are slowly dominating English in internet usage. Hindi and vernacular languages will dominate as more Indians go online, with growing regional language content, falling data prices and cheaper smartphones. "English is over. There are only 200 million Indians who are proficient in English and they are already on the internet," according to Rajan Anandan, VP for Google's India and South-East Asian operations. "Almost every new user that is coming online-roughly nine out of ten — are not proficient in English. So, it is fair to say that almost all the growth of usage is coming from non-English users." he says.
By 2021, content consumption in Hindi will be bigger than consumption in English, according to Google estimates. A study conducted by Google, in partnership with KPMG, highlights this trend. "India today has 234 million Indian language users online, compared to 175 million English users ... Our study reveals that 99% of local-language …

Gateways to Digital Content

Amazon is trying to become an app store like  Apple or Google. Amazon and has created one point for users to get digital subscriptions from companies like the LA Times and Dropbox. Google and Apple app stores are major gateways for the sale of online music, newspapers and magazines, digital video packages, food delivery subscriptions and software making service providers dependent on Google and Apple. Amazon is now trying to grab a piece of the action. Google and Apple both take a big chunk of the subscriptions paid by customers. Digital Content providers are left with few options to market their content. These tech giants are the digital gateways to digital content.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar - IdeaIndia.Com

HR Technology Strategy

Companies are spending more on HR technology with 56% of all Asia-Pacific firms planning to increase their budgets in this area, according to a report by Sierra Cedar HR Tech Landscape Study for Asia - "More than 40% of all Asia-Pacific organisations and 50% of India-based organisations are looking at improving or developing a new enterprise HR Systems Strategy this year,".
The Asia-Pacific market is witnessing a maturing of overall HR technology adoption which is moving beyond initial investments in payroll talent management, workforce management and even business intelligence applications. Organisations are moving towards Cloud-based HRMS.
Organisations are seeking to adopt new Cloud-based HR technology which gives the ability to make use of emerging technologies which are in Cloud environments, e.g. embedded analytics, Mobile capabilities, and integration with Social platforms.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Social Media Command Centres for Brand Marketing

Social media command centres, dedicated facility used by brands for monitoring conversations, customer service, tracking marketing efficiency, market research, etc., are becoming the norm.
Big multi-national brands have used command centres for some years now. The trend is catching up in India. Many large brands in India are now using command centres. Brands cannot afford to ignore the social media chatter around their brand.
According to research in India, 47 per cent of the people who access social media post reviews of product and services. Social media has become a way to communicate with a brand. Brands can gain a better understanding of their customers this way.
The command centres provide diverse services to brands - customer care, social listening, market intelligence, market research, competition analysis and online reputation management using data analytics and real-time creative support.
The more popular tools in India are Radian 6, Hootsuite, Adobe Social and Socialbakers…

Digital Personality Marketing

Research from USA (Penn State) and UK (King's College London) reveals that people adopt different personalities for different social networking sites. The study shows that users subconsciously present a different personality of themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., so that they can fit in with the distinctive culture of each of these sites. 2 features, that vary almost completely across profiles on networks are biographies and profile pictures of users. Researchers compiled information on more than 100,000 social media users. The research also reveals how demographics influence social media profiles.

This is useful research on digital marketing on social media networks

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Retail East

Retailing heads East for the Asia pivot. CEO of Walmart says India is a key growth market for the company, along with China, and it will focus on allocating capital to these markets in a bid to grow business profitably. "In order to grow our business profitably, we're making strategic choices to simplify our portfolio and be more focused. For example, we've sold non-core assets like shopping malls in Chile and the Suburbia clothing chain in Mexico. Our emphasis for capital allocation is on our core North American markets (Mexico and Canada) and key growth markets (China and India). We are intentionally focused on investing in markets, channels, and formats that position us to win," he says.
Walmart India operates 20 stores in the cash-and-carry wholesale space under the Best Price banner across the country and plans to increase this number. The Indian subsidiary is evaluating foreign direct investment (FDI) guidelines for the food retail space in India as the govern…

Digital Service Stations Across India

Mofussil India could be on the verge of a digital makeover, reports Times of India. The railways have identified over 7,000 sleepy towns in the country for converting their railway stations into digital hotspots, which will not just offer Wi-Fi services to the local population but will also serve as hubs for ordering and receiving goods from ecommerce portals. These proposed centres will provide digital services including digital banking, Aadhaar generation, issuing government certificates and filing taxes. The plan, under the 'Railwire Saathi' project, will soon be rolled out across 7,000 stations, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told ET. None of these stations will be in big cities and will be mostly in rural and remote areas, he said. "Railways already have an unparalleled optical fibre network across the country through which we can set up these centres in the premises of station," said Prabhu. It will be a one-stop solution for government's digital inclusion…

Indian Global In-House Centres

Moving from back-office to research and development, more large MNCs are using Indian global in-house centres (GICs), according to a report by Bain and Company. It's a testament to how these GICs are proving their worth. Bain, which surveyed a number of Fortune 1,000 companies and Indian GIC leaders, found that these companies and leaders forecast the type of work managed by GICs to increase along with the enterprise's reliance on the GIC. "This outlines the bigger role that Indian GICs can aspire to play within the global enterprise if they invest in becoming GICs of the future," it said in a report.
The report highlights 6 main areas for Indian GICs to invest in. They include analytics, traditional IT, digital-age IT, domain expertise, leadership and cost savings. "While GIC leaders are aligned on these priorities, traditional IT stands out as something that GIC leaders aren't prioritizing as much as global CXOs demand," it said.

The Indian GIC has g…

VCs looking for exits in India

VCs looking for exits in India will bring about further consolidation in Indian tech and consumer startup investments. Sequoia Capital, according to Times of India, is said to have concluded a $180-million secondary stake sale in eight of its portfolio companies to Madison Capital, as the venture fund consolidates its holdings. Sequoia has sold its 1.5% ownership in Snapdeal along with stakes in payments platform Pine Labs, health insurer Star Health and India Shelter Finance Corporation, Micromax and UnitedLex.
Having been around in India since 2006, for Sequoia Capital, which manages almost $3 billion in assets across hundreds of companies like Oyo Rooms, Practo, and Bira, clocking returns on its earlier investments has become increasingly imperative, just like other VCs, Sequoia has been one of the most prolific backers of tech and consumer ventures in India, and is among a few investors which is able to write larger cheques in growth-stage rounds as well.

Secondary portfolio sale…

Crossroads for Indian Tech Talent

Australia, Singapore, UK and America are changing their skilled migrant visa programmes which will adversely affect Indian techies planning on working abroad. Obviously Indian IT industry will also face this popular protectionist backlash. The exports of Indian tech skills will be impacted
Outsourcing contracts in which IT services providers have been trying to send low-cost resources to foreign markets will be impacted. How are Indian techies are perceived overseas? There maybe a shift in terms of profiles of IT workers that are likely to be deployed in those countries. 
Returning Indian techies will create oversupply of talent in India. This may give a boost to India's tech industry at home and its startup ecosystem.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Content Discrimination

Content providers such as Netflix and mobile phone operators backed net neutrality — a concept that guarantees equal and unbiased access to the web — while allowing for reasonable traffic management practices in exceptional cases as laid down by the authorities, reports Times of India. They and groups such as the Internet Freedom Foundation, Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nasscom want a regulatory framework primarily to stop and penalise traffic management practices (TMPs) such as blocking, throttling, prioritisation of traffic or altering of specific content, application or services, with the exception of processes to handle network congestion.
They were responding to a consultation paper on net neutrality floated by the regulator. "We believe it is crucial for Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) to put in place a bright-line regulation that explicitly prohibits TSPs (telecom service providers) from restricting access to content available on the internet …

Digital Benefits

Digital benefits and perks are slowly removing the paper trail in India. Digital coupons and vouchers could have a big impact in India. Paytm, the mobile payments and ecommerce platform, is entering the meal voucher market. Being referred to as the food wallet, Paytm has tied up with firms that can top up wallets of their employees. 
"Paytm food wallet will benefit all stakeholders - employers, employees and food retailers. Corporate employees can now pay for their food and beverages using their mobile on the go and keep a track of all payments made on the app. This will offer convenience compared to the traditional instruments like paper vouchers and will have tax benefits too." says Paytm.
Paytm will now be in direct competition with Sodexo, Ticket Restaurant, Zeta and others. RBI has recently said that all meal-voucher companies must switch over to electronic formats by the end of the year. With investors like Alibaba, Paytm has the opportunity to disrupt the market. Acc…

Regional Language OS and Software

Indus OS, a regional language operating system, is to speed up marketing in India. Indus OS is planning the next version of the operating system which will have more local features and better translation and transliteration features. they are also planning to open an office in China this year. The aim behind setting up an office in China is to explore tie-ups with leading Chinese phone makers such as Xiaomi. Indus OS, which already has tie-ups with Micromax, Intex, Karbonn, is now looking to expand further by bundling with Chinese players which have a significant market share in India. 
Recently Indus OS obtained round A funding from VenturEast, JSW Ventures and Omidyar Network. Indus OS has been angel funded by the likes of Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal from Snapdeal, Amit Gupta and Naveen Tiwari from Inmobi and Pranay Chulet from Quikr, according to the company. Indus OS, which claims second place in terms of market share in the Android dominated Indian market, even ahead of Apple iO…

India as a Base for Content Creation for Global Consumption

Outsourcing Content Creation. Amazon is considering plans to set up a Bollywood film studio. Amazon wants its own content creating business to supply its video service. Amazon has hired consultants in content, film distribution, and exhibition to create a blueprint for the proposed film studio. Roy Price, head of Amazon's content business, is in Mumbai this week, and is having meetings with producers and content creators.
Amazon has as much as $300 million video-content budget, has used local movie content to compete with Netflix. Amazon has signed deals with Yash Raj Films, Excel Entertainment, Dharma Productions, Vishesh Films, and TSeries. While Netflix has signed deals with Red Chillies Entertainment and Aamir Khan Productions.
The "corporatisation of Bollywood", as some are calling it, will change the landscape in India for content creation. Major content distribution platforms will have to find the right business model to source content for their customers.
Roy Pr…

Bioelectronics coming to a hospital near you

Apple is using biomedical engineers, close to its HQ in Palo Alto, in an initiative to develop sensors to treat diabetes. The line between pharmaceuticals and technology is blurring as companies are joining forces to tackle chronic diseases using high-tech devices that combine biology, software and hardware, in the field of medicine called bioelectronics.
Last year, GlaxoSmithKline and Google parent Alphabet unveiled a joint company aimed at marketing bio-electronic devices to fight illness by attaching to individual nerves. Other companies investing in bioelectronics include Medtronic, Proteus Digital Technology, Sanofi SA, Setpoint Medical, EnteroMedics and Biogen.
SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Telcos enter ecommerce business

Mobile wallets need to find the right ecommerce partner to try to get users onto their e-wallets. And ecommerce platforms need a network of offline retailers to help boost their brand. Telcos are getting into ecommerce to attract users to their e-wallets. Mobile digital wallet Idea Money and ecommerce platform ShopClues are partnering to allow offline retailers to book and sell products on ShopClues. A joint statement says "Idea Money has partnered with ShopClues to sell products through its Retailer Assisted Model (RAM) via local retailers. The partnership will help millions of on ground customers who may not have access to the internet, to make easy, convenient and secure purchase transactions.....On making a purchase, customers will be able to make payments through Idea Money wallet to ShopClues. The product will then be delivered by ShopClues to the customer's desired point of delivery". Idea Money, through network of retailers, will help ShopClues to increase brand…

Manufacturing Content in India

Netflix and Amazon are fighting for the video streaming market in India and using India as a base to produce original content for their platforms. And that to, content not just for the Indian market but elsewhere also. It is reported that they have each set aside Rs.2K crore to buy content to attract new subscribers. 
Content creators say Netflix and Amazon have relatively high budgets and want to stream original content. “Having met both, I can vouch for the fact that both are sold on the India story,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions. “They are both equally aggressive when it comes to content. Both want to address the huge content gap that exists between Narcos (a popular Netflix series) and Naagin,” added Mehta. Netflix says “On the originals front, we are focused on finding great Indian stories—not just for Indians, but for the world. Sacred Games is our first announced Indian original series, and partnering with a top studio like Phantom Films speaks of the kind of qu…

Trends for Technology Transfer and Acquisition

Looking for startups to acquire technology seems to be a growing trend for large corporates. Non-tech companies that specialise in banking, retail and other 'traditional' fields find it easier to buy a tech startup in the space rather than start a software division from scratch, reports Times of India. Harpreet Grover was at a crossroad last year — go it alone or get acquired. His hiring assessment company, CoCubes, which had 600 customers and raised $2 million in funding from Ojas Ventures, was in acquisition talks with HR consultancy firm and long-term customer, Aon Hewitt. But a private equity fund was expressing interest in a $10 million funding round. "It was a difficult decision — join a big firm or take the funding and stay independent," says Grover. Finally, the Gurgaon-based company chose acquisition by Aon in an all-cash deal. "We wanted to go global. We knew if we wanted to reach that end goal faster, we had to join a bigger firm," says Grover. …

Data Skills are the Need of the Hour

Data Skills are the Need of the Hour. The humongous amount of digital data being generated, and companies' need to glean insights and make predictions from them have made skills in data visualisation, data science, and machine learning among the most valued for technology recruiters today, reports Times of India. This is reflected in the number of working professionals signing up for specialised courses in these spaces. Candidates who complete the courses tend to get between 20% and 50% increase in salaries. Kashyap Dalal, chief business officer at online learning platform Simplilearn, says that big data and analytics courses were the big growth drivers in the past three years. While data science continues to remain popular, accounting for 30% of all learners, courses on visualisation tools and machine learning have become very attractive over the past six months, he said. Almost 25% of Simplilearn's applicants have opted for machine learning.
Machine learning reduces the nee…

Digital Spin

Getting your digital voice across. An official digital platform for the 'India perspective' — the Centre is considering a plan to launch a high-end digital platform that will present "India's point of view and perspective on global events on the Internet", reports Times of India. Operating cost is estimated at around Rs 75 crore. The idea was discussed by a committee headed by the Prasar Bharati chairman, A Surya Prakash, and the Prasar board has approved it recently. The digital channel, according to its concept note, "will challenge the anti-India narrative in foreign media through hard and compelling commentary, challenge stereotypes attributed to Indian systems and put forward the India perspective".
The other members of the committee included Sunil Alagh and Shashi Shekar Vempati, members, Prasar Bharati board, R Jagannathan, editorial director, Swarajya magazine, Vamsee Juluri, professor, University of San Francisco, and Prasar Bharati interim CE…

Subscription and Advertising Based Content

Retaining users and keeping them logged on as much as possible is what digital platforms are after. Providing users with original content paid for by subscription rather than advertising is the way Netflix and Amazon are going. It's the prefix of the season—super, reports Times of India. Add it to any word you can think of. And Nitesh Kripalani, country head of Amazon Prime Video, applies it with the felicity of any youthful startup chief executive out there: the customer segment for online video is 'super-small' in India. But Amazon's local customers are 'super-interested' in video. Data charges are 'super-important' for them. So Amazon, he says, is making sure data consumption for video is 'superlow' while ensuring visual quality is 'super-high'. It's hard to miss when Kripalani, in his late 30s, can go super six times in a five-minute span. But what's behind etailer Amazon's interest in online video—that too, a paid-subsc…

Touring for Tech Startups to get a better ROI

Investors, not your usual suspects, are looking for tech startups to invest in. Investors are searching for better than usual ROI. Remember the olden days (2016), when it seemed outlandish investments in technology startups were a thing of the faraway past (2015)? Snap out of it, reports Times of India. Just look at the headlines of the past few weeks. China's on-demand ride king Didi Chuxing is considering a $6 billion investment backed by SoftBank. Airbnb finalized a $1 billion stock sale. Another $1 billion or more is flowing to Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart. Instacart put $400 million in its shopping basket. Google's corporate cousin Verily pulled in an $800 million investment. I know we've all become inured to buckets of money sloshing around in Silicon Valley and other global technology capitals. But these are crazy large sums for young, private companies with unproven businesses.
Many of these startup financing deals share a common thread: the participation of in…

Commercializing Ideas

Accelerators, Incubators, Ecosystems and Hubs - anything startup - the idea being commercializing ideas.

The Pune Smart City Development Corporation (PSCDC) has set up a new subsidiary, Pune Idea Factory Foundation (PIFF), which will serve as a one-stop shop for anything startup related in the city, reports Economic Times. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said that he would like to make the city India's number one destination for startups by 2020 and this initiative is a big step towards that.
Kunal Kumar, municipal commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation, told ET that they had studied startup models in eight cities over the past few months ­ Berlin, Tel Aviv, Paris, Chicago, Amsterdam, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kochi ­ before coming up with this. “The foundation of Pune as a Smart City is built on three verticals ­ improving the quality of life by improving infrastructure and services, boosting the economy and creating jobs and sustainability. Under all these hea…

The Search for Ad Revenue: The Story So Far

Snapchat started a new search function so as to make the content created by users more accessible. This opens up the massive amount of content that Snapchat has drawn from its millions of users to contribute to its "Stories" feature. Snapchat is using advanced machine learning (ML) to evaluate caption text, time and visual elements, to create new stories out of those Snaps.
Snap's "Stories in Search" feature will start in certain cities. Allowing search obviously opens up a new advertising revenue stream for Snapchat. Just like Google, Twitter and Facebook, which have search functionality, search provides valuable info to target ads to users. Snap and Facebook are a bit like Tom and Jerry, trying to get one up on the other with their functionality.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

Toshiba's Technology Bonanza

The Silicon Valley tech giants are getting heavily invested in digital infrastructure manufacturing - from microchips, IoT, consumer hardware. They are already investing huge amounts in cloud services, data management and AI. Buying Toshiba's chip plant will allow the silicon valley tech firms to leapfrog over a number of  established chipmakers.
Apple, Amazon and Google have joined bidding for Toshiba's NAND flash memory unit, vying with others for the Japanese firm's prized semiconductor operation, reports Times of India. Toshiba shareholders on Thursday agreed to split off its NAND flash memory business, paving the way for a sale to raise at least $9 billion to cover US nuclear unit charges that threaten the conglomerate's future.
The Nikkei business daily reported on Friday that US. private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and US chipmaker Broadcom Ltd have offered Toshiba about 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) for the unit. About 10 potential bidders are interested i…