Saturday, 27 April 2013

Notes From Startup Saturday 13-Apr-2013

Attended Startup Saturday, 13-Apr-2013. Theme was PR and Zero-budget marketing and tried to inform folks on "how can startups effectively leverage free media - either owned assets or earned through networks - to promote their products?"

Proceedings started with Ajay Reddy talking about Very unique concept this; as his site says it's "a unique travel challenge which will take you to all the UNESCO world heritage sites across India over the period of one full year." Focusing on the day's subject, he said that most of the editors, journalists, publishers are available on twitter or their email ids are available on the web; so tweet or email them about your product concept or business model, telling them how you affect somebody's life and asking if this is interesting for them to publish stuff about you. You will definitely get traction. He also mentioned that branding cannot be done by google ads.

Then there were the lightning pitches, which were actually long pitches. First off it was Azad and Emily from Imaginate, a cmpany which makes augmented reality products. They talked about TRIALAR for (virtual) apparel dressing at trial rooms. Other products are livear (I think) for health care vertical helping open labor surgery based on 2-D scan data. I asked about their technical platform, and did not get a good answer; what we were told is that the products are written in C++. They also mentioned about their upcoming fashion website. People wanted to know if their product allows to use different clothes and accessories, and they said at the moment it does not. I got to hear about such virtual dressing product in previous startup sessions too, but when I checked with friends, most of them said that they would like to go into the trial room with real clothes.

Next was Dr. Venu founder & CEO of Manjeera Digital Systems who worked as a professor for 22 years and then moved on to industry. He talked about his product Universal Multi-functional accelerator (UMA) which as I understood, partitions any algorithm into hardware and software. It's targeted for mobile and multi-media processors. Since it was getting into low-level electronics stuff, I kinda switched off in between.

Rakesh presented golive gaming solutions. The IIIT incubated startup was founded in 2008 and aims to bring out Indian content to global audience. They build world class gaming designs, have gaming frameworks, and see that a huge opportunity lies in Indian smartphone market. The games are designed around Bollywood and cricket. Some of the names are: Lalkamal, Neelkamal, Kurukshetra. A question was asked on how they would wean away our kids from games developed abroad, as they seem to be fascinated by them but not so about Indian games. I think the guy did not handle such questions properly and I felt like he was beating around the bush on audience questions.

Hemanth (I did not note his website) wants to make a disruptive change to the huge political "market" of India, and wanted to impact the parliament elections, state elections and municipal elections. The site would endorse good candidates and leverage facebook and social networking. There was persistent questioning from the audience that since politicians are kind of a disreputed group, how would they make their site popular. The guy started making speeches like Arvind Kejriwal forgetting this is startups' seminar. You meet these kind of starry-eyed kids frequently at such sessions, but anyways one wishes them well that their energy and enthusiasm would stand by them in good stead.

Next was a talk on PR by Vishal and Varsha of Perfect Relations. Mostly basic text-book stuff, key points they made were: public relations do not drive the demand; marketing initiatives have to boost the demand; since startups don't have much time and budgets they need to list out very specific goals from PR; the PR agency will give them measurement of what message was communicated, what perceptions were built, and how much reach has been achieved; PR is a long-term and conistent effort; different payment models are available like project-based and retainer basis. Though it sounded mostly like text-book stuff, interesting analogy they drew was that PR is like a family doctor; they are not about just giving press releases, rather they work with marketing department, ad agencies etc.

The last presentation of the session was by Farhan. Yes, Mr. LaMakaan himself. He introduced his 15-day old startup Basically like a call forwarding service, for $5 a month you could map a U.S. telephone number to an Indian number, so expats who spend a lot of time talking to their friends and family in India would just pay domestic rates. He did not want to go big bang into many countries, the service is available free for 15 days and he was spreading the awareness of his site through friends and their references. He mentioned that the whole site was about 5 thousand lines of ruby on rails code. Farhan's talk, well, was an energetic end for the day's session.

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