Category Archives: Digital Media

Coffee with Ram Shriram

Ram Shriram (Shaerpalo Ventures profile) was in Bangalore for a day. He packed in 2 events at [24]/7’s new campus on Outer Ring Road. At the first event title In Conversation with Ram Shriram – Managing Partner, Sherpalo Ventures organised by iSpirt, he answered queries from scores of entrepreneurs. He wants more higher education institutions to come up, as it is tougher to get into IIT’s than Stanford. He cautioned against copy-cat mentality and app being the core of business, rather than actual revenue-based offering. You may get more details on Techinasia post – When the big daddy of startup investing Ram Shriram talks, you just listen!.

Tech stack at [24]/7

Tech stack at [24]/7

I was in the next event – Coffee with Ram Shriram. It was a more intimate setting. First, we were subjected to the mandatory and brief introduction about the company, its value proposition and strengths from a business guy named Brooks (who joined them post their Microsoft Tellme acquisition) and another head of technology. They talked about how [24]/7’s omni-channel approach for retails, backed by big data and prediction to provide a personalised and intuitive experience to the customers. We got a great demo of personalised experience based on web activity and intent. It showed how call center agents will be replaced by voice agents, leading the a lot of self-service by customers. They are coming up with exciting products in partnership with Facebook and Microsoft. If you want to know more about their work with Facebook Messenger, tune in to Facebook Messenger – The Most Disruptive Customer Support Channel Ever? on Dec 3. AS of Dec 23, you can hail Uber using Facebook Messenger in US.

Coffee with Ram Shriram at [24]/7

Coffee with Ram Shriram at [24]/7

Nags, co-founder of [24]/7 introduced Ram. Ram’s monologue was brief, where he touched upon technology evolution and future opportunities. This was followed by an interesting Q&A round. Responding to an audience question about he cherry-picks his angel investments like he did with Google he said – When he put in money, it was just 2 guys with a dream. He made sure that the dream was not short-lived looking at perseverance and talent of founders in addition to the market and incumbents. he used the same criteria, when he invested  in [24]/7. He provided clarity on [24]/7’s strategy and projections. [24]/7’s web, chat and voice offerings are disrupting the BPO business of incumbents, like Convergys as well as pure-product offerings, like Genesys, Oracle CRM etc. He also mentioned that they are starting to integrate with COTS (Commercial Off-the shelf) solutions like Dynamics CRM, etc soon for customers like Capital One. Varadh from [24]/7 then shared a thing or 2 about company culture, how they are applying the principles of delightful customer experience to an employee-friendly policies. He stopped short of asking us to check out the careers page of [24]/7’s Innovation Labs (direct link on Jobvite). We then continued the Q&A to the terrace with a great view of 10th floor.


Growth Hacking Malaysia featuring EasyTaxi Regional MD

I am on a week long vacation in Kuala Lumpur, but after getting to know about Growth Hacking Malaysia event on 2 Dec, I took a break from sight seeing to see startups in action.

Universiti LRT Station

Universiti LRT Station

I was in Kampung Baru doing jalan-jalan (stroll) of this modern village. I took LRT to Universiti and tried to book a app-hail a taxi using EasyTaxi with no success. Tried it with regular MyTeksi, failed; but finally succeeded with Executive Class on MyTeksi. The app is sleek showing me minute-by-minute, as the driver approaches me. An hour later, I’d meet the Managing Director of rival taxi service!

The organizer, Anna Rehermann introduced Easytaxi Regional Managing Director, Joon Chan. He started interactively by asking us what Growth Hacking meant. He elaborated them with examples. Growth hacking means getting users through various Channels – Adwords, poster, Facebook etc. You need to measure efficacy of them by say, Market research – call n ask user of the week. Depending on ROI from them, you put marketing money.

Joo Chan shows channel chart

Channel measurement chart

EasyTaxi began its Malaysia operations in May, 2013. In the beginning, you ask your friends. He took 20 friends to TGIF, got them to install the app and try it out.
Important point here is to go on till you exhaust channel. Pick all the cherries.
Easytaxi got sales done through its rival’s drivers! It’s true. MyTeksi did 10 times more transactions per day than EasyTaxi. So, he invited 1000’s of MyTeksi drivers for a nice buffet dinner and handed 4000 handouts to each with unique code to measure referral. The drivers handed them to their passengers after the trip. Discount and commission was his cost for this campaign, but gave a large no of new clients. They continued this till MyTeksi modified their driver agreement.



Another nice campaign was using 4k Hellokitty toys.  40 drivers everyday would hand it to those who ask it using hashtag #easykitty. First day, they had 500 requests, next day it was 4k, and after this it skyrocketed to 16k. As soon as an office girl put it on desk. it went viral. They got 18k users with 16k investment. They conquered building after building. An example: Just HP Tower emptied a quarter of its supplies.
It’s important to do campaign again. Make this a Weekly process. They experimented with Power user program, as other channels like FB became costlier. EasyTaxi has a Data science team for voucher. While they use EDM (Electronic Digital Marketing) channels, they tried novel ideas. Instead of using mailchimp, he used his personal email, WhatsApp with Malay, Chinese, Indian girl persona. In Vietnam, app and mobile internet doesn’t work, as people mostly call. Do, he used Predictive dialing effectively. EasyTaxi continues to execute underdog strategy. Keep in touch with the company on Facebook page, EasyTaxiMy and @myEasyTaxi.

Hijab2Go pitch

Hijab2Go pitch

After this, we had 3 startup presentations, who got nuggets of advice from the expert panel comprising: Warren Tan (CEO, VLT) @warrentan, Andrew Tan (Director, VLT) Linkedin profile, Zafrul Noordin (Founder @ Code Linkedin profile, Daniel Cerventus (Founder @ NextUpAsia) Linkedin profile@cerventus. The first one was Hijab2Go.

Tangi Vern, Linkedin profile presented his 2 week old startup’s journey. They have competition like fashionmalay. They have followed the following path:


But, Activation has been poor. While they are able to get a lot of users. He wanted help on that. The experts suggested to put stall at Putrajaya targeting Malay auntie in Govt agency, who have a lot of time!

Expert panel

Expert panel

Put photo booth in campus and get conversation going. They asked him to figure out if it was just a marketplace or a brand as well. Also, do growth hacking with social media influencers like Miss Nina (??). [Note: If any of you discerning reader could enlighten me with these, please drop a comment of email me. Being really new in KL and in Malaysia, I am not aware of these.]

The second pitch was for a tutor software and marketplace by Sam Xiaong. He did not use a deck and enthusiastically explained his idea. Tutors incl music tutor and students find it hard to keep track of lesson missed, dues left. So, will provide a tool for the same. He is also looking for Copywriter, social media intern, designer, developer, so reach out to him.

Metofu pitch

Metofu pitch

The third pitch was Metofu – food for those who want to lose weight. He explained how he gets food from caterers and does lunch delivery. In the beginning, he was doing weekly, but the cost was high for customer, so he pivoted. His pitch was found ot be confusing by the experts. They asked him to develop nutrition food content in Malay. Have Facebook group of trainers.

At the end of 3 hours, we were wiser and most are looking forward to next month’s meeting.

April SAIF ignition meeting on mobile marketing

SAIFMobileMarketingSAIF held a meeting for entrepreneurs at its office terrace on the theme of mobile marketing. There were a lot of folks from SAIF investee companies like PayTM, PropTiger etc. After initial snacks and networking, Deepak Abbot (@deepakabbot), Product Marketing Head from PayTM provided valuable insights regarding mobile marketing.

PayTM has been marketing for 1.5 years. It grew 4x. It is a desktop web company to start with. Now, 60% orders come on mobile. They have seen 6m app installs till March 2014. Windows is 2nd biggest interestingly. Have to spent money, not upgraded. 4% revenue.
They started with a target 10m in 2 yrs.
Acquire, retain. Loyalty, monetize, analytics are key to mobile marketing.
First 3 months is your best chance. Use the following 5 methods for it.

  1. App Store optimization – keywords in title, description. New google play policy on April 1. App icon. Category – secondary. Non-competitive categories like Education. More no of installs on iOS. Active users, uninstall, inbound links. Less than 1000 a day can rank. Ranking doesn’t change too fast on Play. If uninstall rate is 40%, it is taken -vely.
  2. Reviews and ratings – Ask review. Android allows review reply – use that. Windows app Store has these feature now as well.
  3. App Store submission – In addition to submitting to standard stores, like Apple AppStore, Google Play Store, list your application at 50 other stores like amazon, getjar as well.
  4. PR, Social Media – 75k IAS centric app
  5. Referral – Uber gave free money to use for rides

Engagement and retention

Active install. Gaming 10 times a month. Paytm 4 times a month. DTH recharge is done monthly. Don’t send irrelevant notification. Use it selectively.

  1. Audience segmentation – tool like Urban Airship
  2. Targeted offer (Commerce App)
  3. Virtual gratification – Quizup. Titles. Crown around photograph.
  4. T+X, T+Y strategy: 7th day user is not coming, send offer on 10th day
  5. Social plugins – Google plus. Over the air install. Tinder
  6. Cross promotions: don’t monetize from day 1


  1. Games and freemium instead of paid apps. Be clear about Biz Model
  2. Don’t create pricing barrier
  3. Advertising – Go native if possible
  4. In-App purchases – make it fun, 1% is minimum benchmark

Appslar, Flurry, google analytics, localytics,for mobile. How many organic, reference. Cohorts like how many came today segment. Transacting vs how often, how much money. ARPU. LTV. How many are opening on day 1. PayTM benchmark is 40%, but keep it at 10%.

  1. App usage
  2. ARPU
  3. Retention
  4. LTV
  5. User feedback

Configure certain standard stuff on day 1. (Semantic web for lesser mortals) should be enabled on day 1.
Demo’ed apps at developer event. Get app to blogger a month before is a good trick to gain some traction. The audience was engaged and resonated with

TastyKhana receives strategic investment from DeliveryHero


[Updated on 13 June] So, Tastykhana has announced on their blog about receiving 5m reportedly valued at 15-18m.

TastyKhana (website) is a food home delivery company having a presence in 6 cities across India. According to reliable sources, it has received strategic investment from either Global Founders Capital or directly from DeliveryHero, a European company having presence in 13 countries across 4 continents. DeliveryHero had raised 50m last year for global domination [Techcrunch news]. India will be their 14th country. Global Founders Capital is a joint VC fund by Samwer Brothers and ex-CEO of DeliveryHero Fabian Siegel having $194M in its warchest right now. As I pointed in the rear end of my blog post earlier, food home delivery is an increasing revenue generator for not just mom and pop food joints, but also fine dining like Speciality Group’s Mainland China, Mezzuna etc.


The journey of TastyKhana has been a long story of patience, conviction, determination, customer-focus, and pivoting like any start-ups. I had heard Shachin Bhardwaj speak at Startup Saturday Pune in Sep 2011. He had started TastyKhana during his tenure at Synygy in Aug, 2007. He quit his IT job within 3 months to focus on his start-up fulltime. For a year, they were experimenting before finding focus. So, in real sense TastyKhana started in Oct 2008. They had delivered food worth Rs. 3.5 Cr by Aug 2011 (8 Cr now) to more than 50,000 customers (now in 1.5 years it has doubled to 100,000). They had only 200 restaurants in Mumbai and Pune on-board at that time, which has swelled over 500 (348 in Pune, 108 in Mumbai) in Aug 2012 and then to 1000 in Pune, Mumbai, NCR (Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon) and Bangalore now Apr 2013 [Source: Restaurant Owner page]. They were receiving 5000 orders a month of an average ticket size Rs.700-800 in 2012. Shachin was able to get angel funding from one of his previous colleague, Chetan Shah to scale up. One of the learning he shared is to take funding in Lacs, not in Crores, so that you learn fiscal responsibility. Interestingly, TastyKhana was just 20 days away from bankruptcy during first 6 months’ of their existence, which is one of themes covered in an earlier blog post.They acquired Food On Wheels to get on-board 3-4 delivery boys, so that they could use own technology solutions to improve the operations. They focussed on solving the following problems of customer:

  1. Serve as aggregator of menus. No more do you need to keep paper menus stuffed in fridges, but have it online, when doing food order.
  2. A customer could use online payment options instead of just COD (Cash on Delivery).
  3. 3 channels to order available are: Online, mobile (using site at that time, now also mobile app) and phone (by calling TastyKhana helpline).
  4. Another convenience factor for a customer was increasing the radius of home delivery of a restaurant by paying a delivery fee, which the restaurant would normally not deliver. TastyKhana was able to achieve this because of its own delivery boys’ network in the city. The customer incurs cost according to delivery distance and order amount, e.g. if order is a small ticket-size and the location is far from restaurant, the charges are more.

For a restaurant owner, they had the following proposition:

  1. Zero overhead with great margins.
  2. Keep the bottom line low, as logistics is taken care of by TastyKhana. They only pay for orders, not for idle delivery boys’ entire time [I call it Operations as a Service, OAAS ala SAAS (Software as a Service)]
  3. Get alternate sales channel on TastyKhana website, phone line and also Facebook app for food ordering and reservation.
  4. In addition, there is valuable data, they get free statistics, feedback from customer on switching, churn ratio and spending capacity of the area’s customers.
  5. While dropping food orders of a restaurant, they are able to drop TastyKhana branded menu of other restaurants.

The technology differentiator has been built by CTO, Sheldon D’Souza and Senior Software Architect Pradeep Singh (First employee of the company).

  1. Focus on automation and scale
  2. Acceptance notification of food order from restaurant
  3. SMS to delivery boy

Once TastyKhana reached scale, they are able to deliver invaluable analytics like “Chinese food eating customers are spending more than Rs.1000/-“. This insight can help someone looking to start a restaurant.


It’s a crowded market for sure with Europe based Justeat (Jan 2011 investment into Hugryzone. Raised 41M afterwards), Foodpanda (launched June 2012 in India) and home-grown players like titbit, Deliverychef, Delivery, Bigbite etc. Some of these power local search engine like burrp (powered by JustEat) , while India’s leading local search engine forayed into food home delivery on its own. Most restaurants have a phone line for home delivery, while many take orders online and in mobile apps as well.

Local Restaurant Food Festival Discovery on Website and Mobile: Case of Lemongrass Mumbai

I had been to Lemon Grass, Malad West yesterday and enjoyed 30% off on ala carte menu on some (Rs. 2000/- ) minimum food purchase. We just went there because of preference of the host, but for a neutral and adventurous person like me, it’d have been nice, if there I could fish out such an offer and go there instead of 25 other options nearby in Infiniti Mall Malad. Google Search threw me to web pages on asklaila and burrp. At both these places, the information was incomplete. Minimum amount to spend was not specified. I tried harder and found website of the restaurant – LemongrassCafe.In. A slideshow has that, but you might easily miss that. While on that page, I couldn’t help, but notice that FB page had low fan count and above all, Twitter widget was broken stating:

We couldn’t find the twitter data of your account at this time!
Also, the restaurant had spent on an OOH ad on New Link Rd, Malad West for a few days to promote this festive offer.
[Update: 25 Apr 2013: I have observed that engagement on Facebook page has increased considerably. Also, the management is now responding to user complaints in burrp]

National Breakfast Day Free McMuffin

National Breakfast Day Free McMuffin

Just walk into any Mcdonalds between 7am and 11am on 18th March to grab a free McMuffin. FB page of McDonals is not replying over there, so this page from my side. Full page ad on national dailies is not enough.

As I wrote in my tumblr page, there is an old Sanskrit adage:

Pratah Bhojum Purnam|
Doparah Madhyam Samaprajam|
Ratrukalam Apam Daridranam|

which basically means:
Eat breakfast like a king, Lunch should be modest like a common man, but the dinner should be very minimum, like a poor man would eat.
In today’s busy lives, we frequently forget morning breakfast, so this National Breakfast Day reminds us it’s importance.

Vegetarian Bengali Food festival backlash on Twitter


So, I saw an ad last week of Speciality’s Oh! Calcutta, Mumbai running on a vegetarian food festival. I had been to Oh! Calcutta in Shashtri Nagar, Andheri West a couple of years ago and had only tasted fish and rice. Nearby Hangla’s stall on Lokhandwala offered chicken biryani mixed with egg in a special style among other Bengali dishes. I was a trifle surprised with vegetarian Bengali food, because the term bordered oxymoronic. My mind still wondered – over recent years, there has been pro-vegetarian movement in West and even in India, so this move only felt proper to showcase vegetarian food and break the popular myth of Bengali food being primarily non-vegetarian. My food IQ is not particularly great, so I even thought that I might have been unaware about this side of Bengali cuisine. I did educate myself about vegetarian fares in Bengali cuisine – Aloo Poshto, Chorchori, Potoler Dorma, Dhokar Dalna.

As I started my commute towards work, this stayed in my head. I only wanted to figure out, if social media marketing engine of Speciality Restaurants were showcasing it over there in addition to print ad. In their investor conference call, the Speciality Group has mentioned food festivals being used to increase revenue (14% rise) despite discretionary spending of Indian consumer coming under pressure. I was in for a big surprise. Food connoisseurs of Mumbai were talking about it. Most of them, many Bengali were condemning such a promotion.

Sadly, there was no reaction from the official Twitter handle OHCALCUTTA1 of the restaurant. I did tag that handle in a tweet mentioning this scenario.

It would have been apt for them to engage with respected food bloggers and uber Twitter user, who could become their brand advocate on being educated about green aspect of the cuisine. I saw a really old, although quite apt tweet from that (either agency or digital customer service department. Neena and Bhavana from Speciality group are good at handling complaints as I found in blog posts and forums) regarding addressing a Twitter user’s bad experience, but then no activity since 1 Aug, 2012. Of course there were some enthusiasts mentioning about this in neutral fashion.

On Facebook, Oh!Calcutta did better in promoting this, as there were quite a good number of shares and likes. Although not responding to queries over there, like request for contest would make me give them minus points. The brand needs to engage and show the human side on its Facebook page.

Some other news bites about Oh! Calcutta in chronological order:

  1. ET reported on in the beginning of Feb 2013 that Oh! Calcutta along with Mainland China will house Italian and Mediterranean deli within their premises, called Mezzuna targeting 18-24 year olds, who “drink more and eat less”. As an aside, it also talks about the group tying up with Justdial for its logistics for home delivery.
  2. A Feb 25, 2013 news piece in ET talks about Oh! Calcutta’s parent company Speciality Restaurants is betting big on home deliveries for its fine dining restaurants including itself and Mainland China. It was reported that it will tie up with a local search service to provide backend-calling support for its delivery operations. If you put these 2 articles together it is clear that the company being talked about is Justdial. Nonetheless, we will mention that the Indian tech startup focussed blog TechCircle reported as an exclusive news piece on 8 March 2013 that the local search company being talked above to be IPO-bound Justdial. They have hired a logistics head and are outsourcing delivery backend. It does not mention if it is just backend-calling support or logistics including delivery boys. For former, Justdial makes perfect sense having established its name as a friendly call centre for providing business information. More on this in a separate blog post. Please note that Justdial has forayed into food ordering service with its restaurant listings earlier this year as I talked in an earlier blog post.

Justdial foraying into Food Home Delivery business


Justdial is India’s leading local search engine. It has quietly forayed into Food Home Delivery business by tying up with some restaurants. It is entering crowded market with national players like JustEat, Foodpanda, bookurtable and a few local players like Titbit, TastyKhana, DeliveryChef, FoodKaMood (now a part of Titbit). Another player in restaurant menu business is Zomato, but they don’t do home delivery. I had written my 3 features wishlist for them earlier.

Justdial Restaurants Page is just a static page with links to Justdial’s main site. While Restaurants Vertical on the homepage is a shortcut to Restaurant search. They have a tie-up with bookurtable for table reservation at restaurants. Interestingly, bookurtable has quietly introduced Food home Delivery themselves, so let us see how long the partnership with Justdial lasts, as they are now direct competitors. [Update: Looks like the tie-up is no longer in place, as I could not find a restaurant with bookurtable link on Justdial’s site.]
Here is some praise for restaurant search of Justdial:

— Baskar Ganapathy (@BaskarG) January 18, 2013

How it works

You Search For A Restaurant


You will find an Order Food icon prominently below SMS/Email button. There is old Menu link at the left.

Area of Delivery and Time Selection

You are presented with text menu for such restaurants, unlike scanned copy for other restaurants. When clicking on plus icon next to your desired dish, you are presented with the following screen.


It shows areas, where the restaurant delivers. When you start typing, a different set of areas appear.


If the restaurant delivers to the area selected, Proceed button is activated. Else, an error message is thrown.



Dish Selection

You can select addons, if available and even add customizations.



You can login with your Justdial credentials or as a guest. There is a verification code on mobile, which you need to enter.


Thereafter, order summary is neatly show and you need to confirm the order. Once you receive the food, you pay the delivery boy. Restaurant then pays Justdial their commission.



All in all, this is a really significant move by Justdial in the local search space. Probably, this is the first time, Justdial is moving from a lead-based model to transactions. The interface is fresh and convenient. The old Menu icon at the left bottom on the search listing page, as shown in the first screen should be different, as that icon is now associated with jpeg images of menu of restaurants, which Justdial used to show. This will help them in doing SEO for restaurants on food items. They will need to add options like online payment, loyalty program and increase restaurant coverage with their vast presence to differentiate from the competitors. Other players like Getit have integration with Bookurtable for table booking, not for home delivery.