ooming social media prompts organisations to seek help from Indian entrepreneurs to transform virtually every part of their business operations, writes Peerzada Abrar
Last year, Amit Agrawal, a Jaipur-based consultant, bought a Dell Laptop for . 33,000. Within seven to eight days of purchase, the machine started to crash repeatedly and could not play videos or music. Agrawal went to the company service centre several times, but they could not solve the problem.
After eight months of struggle to use the laptop, he filed a complaint on Akosha, an online forum that helps Indian consumers in getting their grievances against companies resolved quickly. Agrawal soon got a call from a top Dell official, who sent engineers to his home and the problem was solved in few days. Delhi-based Akosha was founded by Ankur Singla, a lawyer who practiced with the law firm Linklaters in London, before he returned to India to launch the venture. Brands getting serious about their reputation have spurred the birth of a breed of social media entrepreneurs like Ankur Singla.
“Apart from helping consumers, we help brands increase customer satisfaction levels by winning back these unhappy customers,” says Singla, who will soon enable consumers to file complaints from their Facebook accounts. As more Indians join social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, consumer brands are relying on a new breed of social media start-ups such as MediaREdifined, Blogadda and Blogworks to build and track online chatter about them and manage their online reputation.
“Realising the business potential of this medium, a rising number of entrepreneurs are developing innovative products especially for the Indian market based on social media,” says Nasscom regional director Avinash Raghava.
Over two million Indians accessed social media sites over the past year and it is expected to grow 36 times in the next three years, according to a report 'Indian Social Media Landscape' by market research firm Nielsen. Of the 80 million Indians online, onethird of them are on social media sites, according to the report. “Companies have now realised that one person posting or tweeting negative comments can influence millions of people,” says Raj Mruthyunjayappa, managing director of Talisma Corporation, a customer relationship management software solution provider.
The amazing thing about social media entrepreneurs is that they are seeing demand not only from big corporates who want to engage with customers but small local businesses as well who want to promote their business
CEO and founder, Vangal
Software and Services
Social media becoming a vital business tool is compelling organisations and even local businesses to seek help from entrepreneurs to transform virtually every part of their business operations. This includes handling marketing, customer service and sales, to product development and human resources. India Emerging profiles a bunch of such start-ups.
VANGAL SOFTWARE AND SERVICES
Bangalore-based Vangal, founded by former Hewlett-Packard executive Vinita Ananth, uses social media analysis technology to understand the brand impact. It then provides those insights to its customers. This includes social analysis of impact on brands linked to the 2G scam to the analysis of Indian Premium League Cricket discussions, so that advertisers can come up with ads for target audience. It indexes and spiders over 92,000 mainstream media sources including print, radio, television and dailies, over 700 million blogs and over 500 million social network users, microbloggers and mobile users. In just one year of operations, Vangal has notched up over 200 customers including brands such as Dell, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, Tissot and Samsung
Jivity, a social commerce company founded by serial entrepreneur Mukund Mohan, leverages social media to help businesses promote themselves through merchandising. It helps brands increase their recall, loyalty and engagement.
This is done by leveraging technology to help fine tune merchandise requirements of the brands, customers and employees. It boasts of working for over 40 power brands such as DELL, MindTree and HCL. Jivity works with over 100 high-profile merchandise partners such as Mont Blac, Reebok, Samsonite, Titan and Louis Philippe, who manufacture quality corporate give aways. Its catalogue features 15,000 unique merchandise in two hundred product categories from apparel to custom tour packages. The company has attracted investors such as VenturEast, Argonaut and eYantra Industries.
Founded just weeks before the Cricket World Cup 2011, Soch.la, is the world's first social network for cricket fans. Soch.la was founded by Pradeep Chopra, Manas Garg and Kapil Nakra who are cricket lovers and batchmates from IIT. They realised that ‘socialising around cricket’ is what every cricket fan around the world enjoys. Their business model is built around advertising. People buying virtual items using real money is another monetisation opportunity for them.
Going forward, social gaming, social prediction of match outcomes and virtual betting are some of the features they plan to implement on Soch.la. The founders will also open up the platform for matches being played in universities and colleges.
The one-year-old start-up founded by Subramanya R Jois, has developed products that is helping people to buy different deals from retailers and find jobs using Facebook and other networking websites.
Jois said their product Buzz-Deals can help merchants and retailers to reach over one million Facebook users in a month to sell different deals. Another product ‘Buzz.jobs’ helps people to find jobs. They can upload their resumes, LinkedIn profiles and twitter accounts that recruiters and companies can access. According to Nielsen report, social media is so popular among Indian internet users that consulting firms in the country will hire 35% of their staff from LinkedIn and other online social sites.
It is India’s first social sharing platform for television programme recommendation. Founded by Rabi Gupta and Ashish Kumar, the start-up provides instant information on all the happenings on television on the basis of user profiles, geography, tastes and interests.
Users of iDubba can recommend shows to friends, get suggestions as to what to watch on TV, and set SMS reminders. It has also created a platform that TV broadcasters can utilise effectively to listen to their audience. “The benefits of social business are too great to ignore,” says Karthik Padmanabhan, country manager, IBM social business & collaboration solutions.
California-based market research firm Radicati Group expects the total number of worldwide Social Networking accounts, including both consumer and enterprise accounts, to grow from about 2.4 billion in 2011 to about 3.9 billion in 2015. Though the space is still nascent in India, it is expected to expand with the rise in internet penetration and the advent of 3G telephony in the coming years.
“This will open up immense opportunities for entrepreneurs catering to this market,” says Raghava of Nasscom.