Proto – The good, the bad, and the ugly – you decide

Several readers have emailed me about Proto, well fortunately/unfortunately I didn’t attend. Why? well its was too far away, and I didn’t know which projects would have been there. Anyhow below I have compiled a short review of the “chosen ones”, i.e the startups who got to present.

Proto, the event, was reviewed before, the idea was to create a forum where start-up companies could come and present their ideas to VC’s and other entrepreneurs. The initial intention was to shortlist 30-40 start-ups, however on the day 27 odd companies took the stage. Judging by the amount of companies, and the time limit I’m thinking they had 5-10 minutes to showcase their ideas. The briefs given below, have been created using some intelligence coupled with CAP technology (that’s Cut And Paste for the uninitiated), and hence credit where credits due. I may review the websites in more detail, so this is just a taster, if readers like/dislike, please let me know.

Please note I have not listed all of the companies, my interest , or should I say this blogs interest is only web based projects, i.e the ones with a www. Hence out of 30, there are only 14 here. The others belong in mobiles, telecoms, infrastructure…..yawnnnn 🙂

Saffronnconnect, claims to be a social network, personally I think this is a mistake. The moment I read social network, my brain started to goto sleep. I think I’ve OD’ed on social networks. Normally this would not be a problem, and I would just move to the next start-up, but I decided to take a look, and guess what, its much better than a social network.

Saffron allows Indians to publish Indian music, hence giving the website more focus. Which is where I think saffron should stay. Strip of all the the social aspects, be focused like Myspace was before it grew and became uncool. It allows you to price and distribute your music to places like iTunes. Simply great, I couldn’t try it, I don’t have music to publish, and I don’t think Paul Van Dyke would appreciate me uploading and selling his music :-). And why use “desi space” in your banner, move away from Myspace…….more later.

Ixigo is a difficult one to review, because the website is not live. So this intro is pulled from a Proto doc. Ixigo is a website where you can compare flights, search for things to do locally, i.e where to eat, what to do. Its adds the social aspect by allowing users to add comments and reviews. A great undertaking, maybe in the update I will have more info. As a side note, can anyone tell me how I pronounce the name Ixigo.


Seraja – The event web. As it says on the tin, its all about events. These events can be in your city, in your country, or anywhere on planet earth. Imagine a party in London, you would like to know about it, or would like reviews from people who went, well this website helps you do that. It also has a mobile feature, where you could get all events occurring in Delhi (or other city) sent to your mobile phone.

The website is a two way street, as are all good web2.0 sites, you can get information, and you can add information. Hence if you are carrying out an event, let people know, if you have been to an event, again show people, its a kind of “whats going on guide”…maybe I just oversimplified it.


Have you ever wanted to know what is the best personal stereo, or the best car, credit card, or other product, and like me spent hours on the Internet reading reviews and still not getting anywhere. Spoteazy aims to make this easier, they aim to trawl the web, pick up user opinions on products, compare and rate them, all in all make your life easier. Full review coming soon. All sounds very exciting, dying to see how good the search results are.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out this has something to do with pictures, and guess what you’d be correct. So its a photo sharing website, why do we need another one? well this is supposed to be Indian centric. In addition it takes the website one stage further by connecting it to the real world. You can upload your pictures and then get them printed on cards, calendars, t-shirts, and sent to your loved/hated 🙂 ones.

Taazza, is a news reader, or will be, when it comes out of Beta. It aims to make news delivery better. News is now no longer confined to the newspapers, national or local. There is news in everyone of us. We blog about it, we comment on websites and forums. Taazza aims to bring the news on the Internet together. They aim to integrate with maps and other websites like and flickr. The news will be context aware. I just realised that I could carry on typing, but all of this means little, I think it maybe best to wait and see. From what I saw several months ago it looked like a rating website. If I had one thing to add….please please please look at Findory, now that’s what I call news….more later.

Trabac is all about collaboration, but visually. Have you ever wanted to get people to see what you are seeing, have you ever wanted to post comments on a pdf, or other document, and leave for others to review, tracbac allows you to do this, and then some. Its sounds very similar to Conceptshare. Something like this is definitely needed, especially for web designers, and their clients, particulalry in a country which does so much outsourcing.

Another photo website, but exclusively for Indian photos. This part I just don’t get, why exclusive to India. Its a place where you can upload photos. You can monetise your pictures by selling them, great for photo fans, but I cannot see the mblogger uploading here. Having said that there is alot of scope for selling pictures to media and websites. Just think we no longer have to have those irrelevant photos on on webpages, we can have something a little more closer to home.

This is tabled to be a search engine, which sits between natural language and information retrieval. Unfortunately its in restricted alpha release, which basically means I have no idea of how good the search will be. But with other search engines launching, the ones based on wikipedia etc, it will be interesting how this will work and make it better. My problem with search engines is that, I don’t know if google gives me good answers or not, I mean what is a good result, and how will we compare all of them. I only ever moved from lycos to google because it was faster.


This is a social network of sorts, where people can blog about topical issues. They can also post classified ads. The value add of is that you can sort this by city, state, country. To do this you need to logon. You can fine tune what you want to read based on your profile. Looks like personalisation is back.

Indimoto covers cars, it allows you to buy and sell cars. Auto classifieds. What more can I say, except take a look at carwala, and compare for yourself.


Jobs4freshers is a jobsite for employers who are looking for graduates fresh out of college. They currently have 23000 candidates registered. There range of offering caters to the small start-up looking for 1-2 people, to multinational recruiters. Graduates can search for jobs, from over 800 employers, hence no more excuses for sitting at home.


This might be your cup of tea 🙂 especially if your’re into campus recruitment. If your a student looking to find that first placement, or a college trying to help with placing your grads, or an employer who wants to hire that next genius, campuschai is for you. As a student you login and create a profile, from here on in, you can search for a job, or keep uptodate with all campus recruitment events happening. If your an employer, you can schedule campus events, and if you like someone, you can push their profile out to colleagues to get their feedback.


This is a community website, about your community, for your community. Its localises the Internet for your local area. Ever wanted reviews on local businesses, you can read and write them. Want to know whats going on, or merely wanted to make friends with neighbours, this will help you do it. Only problem is unlike other friends you make online, these you cannot ignore, they live next door…spooky.

So there you are, a quick and dirty review of what went on. For a complete list of the startups at Proto. One thing I found strange about this event is how few people actually knew it existed, I mean how many entrepreneurs knew about this?

Hope you had fun reading, I must stop typing, need a kebab, come back soon, I have really cool startup to review…well I like it, so please come back.

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28 Responses

  1. 14 Indian internet startups

    There was a recent startup conference in Chennai. Out of these 14 web based startups have just been reviewed, some are good, others bad, and others…well make up your own mind

  2. Hi Iqbal,

    Thank you for your review on tolmolbol. We’re pretty sure you are the first blogger to write about us and for that you will always hold a special place in our hearts. tolmolbol is our effort to aggregate opinions, insights and experiences of the people in our neighbourhoods. Our team has worked quite hard to make tolmolbol fun and useful for the entire community.

    We hope you love it 🙂


  3. Hi, is an auto classifieds covering cars, bikes, commercial vehicles as well as listings for car dealers, workshops and much more. Its also India’s 1st carpool classifieds.


  4. What is taazza about?, frontpage is good, but nothing else


  5. Hi there…
    Thanks for the review on Jobs4Freshers. This is a great idea to bring college grads and employers together in the job market.
    I had never heard of this site until I read about it in your blog.

  6. Does anyone have numbers on how many startups and which ones got funded, as a result of pitching at proto?

    I dont know but this should definitely be one of the metrics to gauge an event performance like proto atleast from an entrepreneur’s point of view. Participation alone doesnt say much.


  7. I would be very surprised if any did.


  8. How many VC’s were at proto

  9. Tarun,

    let me just say that you’d be pleasantly surprised. I unfortunately can’t disclose much info, but you’ll hear about it soon 🙂

  10. motivated_demotivated_entrepreneur,

    When we planned Proto, it was much beyond just getting funding. Startups struggle to capture mindshare, an interest among the public, to attract talent, and to create that initial buzz, or entry barrier as you might call it, and Proto was meant to help with that. The judges of the service/product were not the VCs, but the professionals and fellow entrepreneurs who are consumers and end-users at the end of the day.

    Most of the companies that we did showcase, were either little or never known about before, and guess how many sites and review groups are picking them up and providing feedback. Now that’s the initiation of a very healthy ecosystem.

    I think its just very shallow to want to participate in Proto just for funding – infact half the companies didn’t require it. They rated mindshare more than funding… It made sense and we took heed.

  11. Agreed.

    But that being said I still believe for a startup to choose out of various events they can pitch in, funding possibilities is an important metric. I’m talking about the ones which are looking for it.

    “infact half the companies didn’t require it.”
    50% of the companies pitching in a startup event, werent looking for funding, sounds unusual if its true. Since you are the organiser of the event, I wouldnt challenge your numbers.

    All being said, I do believe proto is a good initiative.


  12. Guys here’s a list of the VC’s who attended Proto, Quite impressive.

    ClearStone Ventures
    Nadathur Holdings
    Mentor Partners
    Siemens Venture Fund
    Philips Venture Fund
    Canaan Partners
    Band of Angels
    TVS Investment Fund
    Silicon Valley Bank

    In addition there were several angel investors.

    As mentioned before I am unaware of how much if any funding happened, but I must agree with Vijay’s comments that the success of Proto is not about how many get funded. These events are to let people know that India is not asleep, and there is an undercurrent occurring. It is not up to Proto whether a startup gets funding or not, it is up to the VC and the entrepreneur.

    Ask anyone, there is alot of money in the market, if your idea is good, VC’s like anyone do not wish to gamble (well not much), hence you have an idea, and can show it works, you will get money.

    I think Proto was more of a place to get the community together, to get opinions on your idea, to really see if it has legs, and maybe…just maybe shake the hand of a few friendly VC’s


  13. Rithesh, nice to have you come by.

    Tolmolbol, looks like a great idea, I think a little more fine tuning, and really drilling down into the community would get it some traction


  14. Yes VC list is impressive. So, that makes the question even more valid.

    Anyways, I think my comment was blown a little bit out of context.

    Again, proto is a good initiative.

  15. mot_demot, I think you do have a valid point. If we imagine a world, where we have several events like Proto, one would need to be careful about which to attend in order to get the best mileage, this mileage could be in terms of money or publicity.

    I watched a recent interview done by Mike Arrington (tech crunch fame) where he actually said most of these events are a waste of time, there are so many people, with so many presentations, its impossible for a VC to really get to grips with it.

    At the end of the day its a way for startups to get introduced to VC’s, because usually VC’s aren’t the easiest to get hold of, unless your part of the secret club. I would still like to know how many did get any money , whether today or in 3 months from now.

    In addition what next for Proto, I mean how do they aim to keep the bandwagon rolling, and keep the momentum going.


  16. You should also check out a portal for automobiles in India

  17. Absolutely.

  18. motivated_demotivated_entrepreneur,

    I agree with your point in the fact that, “when someone puts money in the table believing in your vision, then they really mean it” – that’s what my mentor used to tell me. I havent disagreed with him and I don’t intend to start now, because there simply is wisdom behind those words.

    As one who eventually is treading on the path to becoming a VC, I’d still say that VCs are over-rated. They are given the God-like status, for no apparent reason and it sort of baffles me. The people who really need to be convinced, are people whom you want to stand with you shoulder to shoulder and fight this battle, and they are mostly comrades, fellow team-players, fellow entrepreneurs, and a friendly media that can hail your arrival.

    Most VCs (and there are exceptionally good VCs who don’t fall under this category) are just concerned about one thing – when do they get their money back and how many times of it will they get back. It makes sense, cause most of them are guarding someone else’s money and they have a promise to keep and money to return back with some profitable gains as well – its really a place between a rock and a hard place for them as well.

    Half of the companies that came in, werent looking for funding – atleast not aggressively. Most of them said “I am sure we could use some extra cash, but at what cost… and truth be told, we can manage without”. Mahesh murthy was talking about the very same thing… something that India has as an advantage is the fact that people require much less money to start off a company and run it to a point where they can “dictate the terms of investment”.

    Most of the companies that we did showcase in Proto were ideas, dreams and concepts with very mature teams, and those with a high probability of success. I’d like to think that they are smart enough to pull it off on their own, not give up early and “dictate their terms of investment” when it comes down to it.

    With that I rest my case. Just shoot me an email if you need any more info.

  19. By the way, just to add, apart from the VCs, there were quite a few representatives from larger corporates represented by their M&A teams. It seems after the recent edition of proto, there have been a lot of interest in this event and I have a list of more companies that are interested in looking at these companies and asking to be informed of the next event.

    What is Proto’s next move? I really don’t care. As long as such a platform is required, we’ll do it. If someone else steps into the arena and does it better, I would be glad for it and step back giving the spotlight to them – at the end of the day, entrepreneurs need a stage, when they can get an audience to share their vision with… and having their dreams projected on a screen, and something tangible, is a moment quite surpassing all by itself.

    For the moment, we are planning on a second edition of proto quite soon. there are requests to hold one in a couple of months and that
    option is being considered.

    PS: If the companies that presented during Proto to get funding, I’d be the first person to be quite happy about it – apart from the founders of course… but that said, it really wasnt the point, or the sole focus of the event. In the words of my mentor “an entrepreneur desperate for a VC’s pocket reeks with the lack of self confidence”

  20. Proto – The good, the bad, and the ugly – you decide

    Several readers have emailed me about Proto, well fortunately/unfortunately I didn’t attend. Why? well its was too far away, and I didn’t know which projects would have been there. Anyhow below I have compiled a short review of the “chosen ones…

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