It’s big, It’s back and it’s hairy…Proto

Okay not so much of the hairy part, but Proto has just finished over in Chennai, and although alot of companies have presented, my interest lies only with the Internet ones. So here goes:

Have covered this one last year, but for all those who haven’t heard about it, tolmolbol across like a social network, but underneath the covers there is far more, you can post classifieds, search for businesses, or even write reviews. The UI is a pleasure for an Indian based entity, but I have a nagging doubt that it does too much, in fact it does everything, tells you the best restaurants, allows you to search for businesses, question is “Whats the focus?, Why would I goto Tolmolbol?”

Since its a local guide, wouldn’t it be great if I could have local offers on this website for local people, i.e if I live in Saket (Delhi), then local businesses their would give me a discount (Note: for a coupon system get in touch with offersforshoppers).

I’m perplexed, its seems to be along the lines of the old link exchanges, except here you are not really exchanging links, but can create an ad (this part is really simple, you login, create ad, place budget, and then place onto a list of websites, such as indiatimes) , so instead of exchanging links Tyroo have taken the google adwords model and moulded it somewhat.

Downside is that googles adword model covers millions of websites, whereas this covers 10-12 (I am sure this will grow). So if you are a small business you can now get ads on some of the biggest portals in India for a minimal cost, and little effort.

I leave this quick review with a question “Have you looked at tailgate? that is where the banner ads are going, transactional banners”

Interesting!, they have some money in the bag, hence someone else out there likes it also. What this website aims to do, is make your life easier, i.e take care of the information overload, and allow you to find what you want, when you want.

I am sure there is some complex algorithm working behind the scenes here. So how does it work ? You register, and then add your favorite blogs/feeds etc, you then get some html to cut and paste into your website, which effectively feeds through info from the blogs you have added. For example, I would add a few blogs I like, send the html code to my friends, they now start getting the feed that they want.

Again I end this post with a question, “Wouldn’t a product like findory work better?, no registration, no adding of blogs, simply click on links and as you do, it fine tunes all the feeds on your home page” Taking this to another level, lets say I had minekey had 20000 blogs added to there website, and I pasted that code to my website, wouldn’t it be great if every time I clicked on a hyperlink, that my feed were fine tuned…maybe this is what happens πŸ™‚

Wow, one word, I am lost more than most in Delhi, in fact all of India, being from the UK, and I just tested with 3 delhites sitting next to me, We tested Saket Sports complex to Pandara road, and Qutab enclave to New Friends (Note: Bug here, I get Faridabad twice here ). It worked perfectly, okay enough of the congratulations, for those who didn’t work it out from the name, or my description, Routeguru helps you find your way. You can have the directions sent to you via sms also.

Loved it, really did, the difference between this and most mapping websites, is that it works like we currently work, it minimizes the use of street names, but uses points of interest, eg, Pass ESC hospital on the left, and then petrol pump on the right, first mapping tool that works in India, guys I know a team in Bangalore who are looking to integrate maps into their website, get in touch. Awesome, and guess what no questions πŸ™‚
As the website says, voice and personal messaging. Its quite simple really, you can get your friends (and enemies) to dial a local number in India, and leave you a voicemail which you can access via the web. For example, if I am travelling, they can leave me a message, and I can pick it up just as I retrieve my email. But I have lots of questions for this one…deep breath

1. Can I just redirect my existing voicemail (say with airtel to this number), i.e users can then just dial my normal mobile number, and when it switches to voicemail it goes to your network.

2. What about voice to sms, look at spinvox, they have built a platform, which allows you to send a voicemail, which gets converted to sms and sent back to you, great if in a meeting.
3. What about integrating this into some note taking system, e.g. there are lots listing, todo list systems out there like tadalists, vitalist, basecamp etc, now what if I could send myself a voicemail, this would then get sent via email to my list. Look at vitalist forum, they do this with a voice provider in the US, you are traveling, need to add a note, you dial a number, send message, it gets added to your todo list. This would then be a premium product you could sell.

If you want hotels, without the fuss, and want to read what others have said, Inasra is the place to head. You fine tune your results, first by city, and then by items such as price, cuisine , ratings etc. They claim to have 3500 hotels, which I guess would appeal to most tastes. Currently with a lack of reviews, it looks like a directory listing, having said that, I think this has a future, link it up with routeguru above.

Now I’m not really a cricket fan, (admitting this may be a fatal sin in India) hence this review is very biased, why would this be at proto?, don’t get it, and I am not sure what’s web2.0 about it. Its a great cricket portal, where you can play games with your friends etc, but….still confused how does it fit in.

And that brings the web2.0/Internet segment to an end, there were other companies, mobile apps, enterprise, but those you will find on other blogs.My favorite has to be routeguru, it has a focus, it is different, and it solves a problem. To the proto organizers, would it be possible to get a list of those who didn’t make it to the final, I don’t see why they can’t get coverage on the blogs, even if they couldn’t get to the final.In summary, we have a mapping system, a local guide to businesses, hotels, data mining, voicemail and ad network, oh and cricket.Just think if they could all work together, the mapping gets added to the local business and hotel websites (the mapping in return uses the businesses and the hotels in their directions, from where a hyperlink could take them to the appropriate website). The ad system needs to get businesses to buy ads, tolmolbol has these businesses listed, and inasra has hotels listed, ready made target list. The data mining could then be used together with ad system and add info to websites.I know its not perfect, but I feel for any of these startups to get traction they need to work together, burrp over in mumbai has restaurant reviews, which am sure needs directions, offersforshoppers has coupon system which needs businesses, get together guys.

The reviews up above are preliminary, so if something needs to be corrected do get in touch, also I will be reviewing a couple of the ones above in detail on the e-hub blog.

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22 Responses

  1. i was just hunting around for a round up of proto and you post puts it nicely…
    ..btw reviewgist applied but we didnt make it.

  2. Hmmm…Not much seem to have changed from the V.1 version where participants have presented their features, technology etc. Where is the revenue traction in any of these Apps? In the end, that’s what matters !

  3. Hi Iqbal,

    I’m glad you liked the UI.

    We would love to partner with other like-minded entrepreneurs who have solved specific local problems.

    Thank you for the suggestion.

    – Rithesh

  4. Hi Iqbal,
    Thanks for your observation on Voiee. To respond to some of your queries:
    1)Yes you can forward your calls to our number for voicemail purposes, but the only problem here is that the service provider does not send us the call forward status, therefore we have no way knowing that this call was forwarded. Which means that the user will have to dial your number again once he reaches our box, which is a very painful thing. We are working to get around it .

    2) We are working on providing the speech to text capabilities and you should see it roll out in the next coming versions

    3) All the features you mentioned are in the product roadmap and we will be introducing them along the way. What you saw was the recently released beta version of the product.

    Hope I have answered your queries, pl. feel free to contact me if you need any more information.

  5. […] If you would like to experience this event vicariously, you could start by reading several posts on the blogosphere. But bear in mind, the perspectives change depending on whether one is an investor, […]

  6. Grrr. Why does this post links to logos? I kept hitting the logo when I wanted to visit a company’s site. And find these snap previews so annoying. Am I the only one?

  7. @Iqbal – Cricko is an interactive cricket platform – which has a game (internet and mobile play) and community (social network) features. It is cricket 2.0 πŸ™‚

    @ Krish – We have had traction and revenues from day 1, with our beta which was launched just before the World Cup.



  8. @Nishant, If you know of others who missed out, do let them know, we may as well see what else India is producing

    @Krish, Revenue traction for any large startup has always come secondary, not primary, India has a problem in that they want revenue on day one, which is why R & D has little focus. Look at the googles of this world, what was the rev. model there.

    @Ritesh: can you email me, will put you in touch

    @Deepak: Nice to see I wasnt too far off the mark with input, keep it up, voice to text with all the dialects in India will be hard

    @Manu, feedback noted, and will get changed, well the first one, the second I like πŸ™‚

    @Pavan: What’s cricket 2.0, I havent played it, so if I’m sounding blonde ignore me, but adding a social network to a cricket site does not make it 2.0, 2.0 zero is all about generating the content from the user.

  9. dont want to sound harsh, but routeguru is definitely a good start but nowhere near functional.

    I wish luck to someone who’s out there driving with some printed instructions from routeguru. I got instructions like “Turn Left” ok I will turn left but where what street?? yeah it does mention distances but those are not enough when it comes to being real.

    Having said that, a good idea but needs some work to be functional.

  10. I liked Inasra and Route guru.
    Inasra have done a great job in getting the data and process in place. I hope they get the next step of scaling and reaching right.

    Routeguru also faces the issue of scaling to multiple cities.
    I wish both succeed.!

  11. We were at Proto too and presented in the New Frontiers segement. I agree with Iqbal on the research bit. My colleagues have been researchers and students in the domain of NDT before striking on the idea that we could take to market. We need more support for research based start ups and that will lead to true IPR and value creation.

  12. Dear Iqbal,

    After carefully reading as many comments on routeguru, at the end what pleases us the most that the person was able to find the driving directions successfully.

    And you walked so much positive about routeguru, we expect to maintain the same enthusiasm with more number of cities covered very soon.

    However, would like to know about the team you have mentioned at the end of the talk.

    Please feel free to contact me for any information/ Query details.

    Thanks & Regards

  13. @motivated_demotivated_entrepreneur

    When we say turn left, we do say, “Turn left by “A LANDMARK” and move onto ‘X ROAD’ if some road name exists”.
    I’d request you to please check the routes once again. And in case there is some discrepancy for some specific routes, do let me know, We can definitely work on the same.


  14. @iqbal
    I liked your analysis in the post. Maybe if you do an analysis on my website too, it would be valuable…
    Maybe sites you listed can get together and make something bigger and better for the Indian audience

  15. Hey mate,

    Nice reviews . Just wondering if our newly launched website deserves your consideration. The Offer directory is a comprehensive directory of all the shopping offers, deals, discounts from retail stores and online shopping sites in India.

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  17. nice article

  18. nice one,useful for everyone

  19. Amazing one mate.Really appreciated.

  20. nice article can you post something about web design and development?

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