Net is a giant switchboard

      I was there at the TiE ISB connect a few months ago & was witnessing the elevator pitches over there and as I have mentioned before I went away after 2-3 pitches as they were quite squib. Recently I came across this website called ResolveQuery which mentions that it was a contestant in the elevator pitch. Looks like the good stuff(meagre) happened in closed doors or happened after I left the place. I think this is a good concept but what is not clear to me is this services revenue model and its scalability. This service addresses a niche & also that internet penetration is not very huge atleast in India.

      It is an obvious fact that any web based business is bounded by the internet pentration. (In India TRAI mentions that the number of broadband users stands 1.5 million  & there are a total of 4.1 million internet users. Also according to ISAPI the average growth rate of internet users in India is 25% ( 54%[highest in 99] – 4% [ lowest in 2k1])/2. About ~80 % of the internet users are of the age group 18- 39 which can be deemed as the target audience of this service. If resolve query is trying to go the route of many of the recent internet startups in the west[ b-model] where they provide free service and  in a couple of years they plan to get acquired by an incumbent ( ex upcoming, weblogs,myspace, flickr etc based on the user base that they have built) then they have to build a user base of ~1 million users (which is the typical size of these acquired startups) in a period of 2-3 years.

 Using the above data[ 4.1 users, 25% growth rate]  if we calculate then in 2 years the the internet penetration would be about ~6.4 million. About 80 % constitute the target audience which gives us the figure of ~5.12 million. Out of which roughly about 1 million has to be capture as I mentioned earlier.

    Not a very easy task but not an impossible one as well given the nature of a compelling service that they offer because it uses net’s (or for that matter technology ) inherent nature/advantage – it is best at connecting people ( ala switchboard). To get good returns they have to keep their costs to very low ( should not make the mistake of spending huge money on irrelevant marketing like Ads [ makemytrip.com anyone !] etc)

    Now discussing this with a friend he commented how is it different from Arzoo.com that Sabee bhatia had floated few years ago which connected problem solvers( programmers) to problem seekers around the world. I said I have to figure out why arzoo did not take off but I like any idea which leverages this basic premise of internet – connecting people [ ebay, google – they all excel at this basic premise ]. There are some other advantages also that they have but I think I will stop here otherwise the post would be way too long here 😉

 

Ok now some delta’s  The site design though good(esp UI) could be still much better ( It looks very old school, particularly I don’t like the back ground colour 😉 ).

     I think that any web based startup( of this nature)  should take about 3 months to go from idea stage to beta(/soft launch) and I find no surprise there. Especially when the technology cost for building web based startups is crashing down ( LAMP , RoR etc). the only significant costs involved is the design.( User Ex/ IA)
     Good User-Ex {atleast in India} is still expensive(relative to technology) and very scarce.

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