Sunday, December 30, 2007
Hats off to Priyanka!!! Here's a link to an article covered by Economic Times India on her venture - www.hungrybangalore.com
An online food ordering service for web surfers
19 Dec, 2007, 0223 hrs IST,Anjana Alex, TNN
In 2006, when Priyanka, a senior software engineer at Ketera, approached a venture capitalist for some help with a business plan, discouragement was what she got. He told her it was best if professionals start their own business when they are 30+. The young generation, according to him, was not mature enough to take business decisions.
If Priyanka had paid heed, then this tech town would have had to wait for a few more years for hungrybangalore.com.
A premier online restaurant ordering service for the hungry web surfer, it allows you to place orders or make reservations online at participating restaurants for free. Your order is then immediately sent to the restaurant where it is prepared accurately and made available to you at the time and date you specify. You may choose to pick up your order for carry out, have it delivered at your place, or have it ready at your specified time to dine in depending on your preference and the services of the restaurant.
“We always felt a need for an online food ordering system when we worked late at office or on weekends. And with traffic conditions worsening day by day, people prefer to eat at home. It’s also difficult to find tables at peak time if one lands up at the restaurant without any reservation,” says Priyanka.
Thus, hungrybangalore was to serve as an interface between restaurants and their customers and also to ease the ordering process. With menus, reviews and maps available online, it becomes very simple to order food for home deliveries or for just booking a table. And as Priyanka points out, ordering or booking through the internet cuts out any chance of miscommunication between the user and the person who receives the order at the restaurant.
Moreover, the user is provided with a single platform to order across different restaurants in the city.
So why did this IIT Kharagpur alumnus and software veteran quit her cushy job for this plunge? “The young IT crowd is much more confident of themselves than ever before. The media has played a very important role in highlighting the success stories of young entrepreneurs and this inspires a lot of individuals to take risks and start their own firms. This, together with the IT boom and the disposable income that acts as savings in the initial stages of a start-up, has added to a lot of IT professionals choosing to become entrepreneurs,” she says.
Started off with 15 restaurants in July 2006, hungrybangalore today has tie-ups with 150 eating joints across town and the website gets around 1,500-2,000 hits everyday. The website also offers several other interesting features such as recipe videos, dabba services, diet tips and special offers. And if you still have second thoughts about ordering online, a scroll down the testimonial section will definitely change your mind.Thinking back about that venture capitalist’s advice amuses Priyanka. “At this stage, after a year, when we have been growing steadily and when there are so many young entrepreneurs around running successful businesses, it seems funny if we would have really given even a second thought to what he said.”
So the next time you want to entertain a dozen friends or want to reserve a place for business lunch, or just want to be sure that the restaurant doesn’t mix up your order, you know where to go. www.hungrybangalore.com - any restaurant, any time!
IIT Kharagpur alum develops travel site for Indian masses -- provides ability to search both flights and trains
I personally checked the site (http://www.90di.com/travel/), and it was awesome! Planning my travel to places with no direct airplane connectivity was horrible. But now, 90di allows users to plan either train journey, or an airplane journey, or a combination of both. Moreover, they direct you to the website of the original carrier for final booking, much like kayak.com in US.
Here's the background of Mr. Khusnood Naqvi:
Co-founder/ Programmer/ Director
Khushnood is a computer programmer and aspires to develop useful Internet applications in his, this new, avatar of an Entrepreneur. In the past he has developed and architected lots of applications and products in various areas. Some of these are in the area of: BPM/Workflow Engine; Telecom monitoring tools and applications; Insurance domain applications; PKI based security products; Credit card processing systems; and also contributed to the design of some Internet applications in the Web 1.0 days! His prior work experience has been with Infosys, which exposed him to all the diverse domains (mentioned above) and also various generations of technologies. Over the last 2 years of his stay there, he had been playing the role of a Principal Architect. Khushnood holds a Bachelors of Technology degree in Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering from IIT Kharagpur.
Here's a past article on the site
Bangalore: The explosion in the private airline business and the emergence of many budget carriers has opened India’s skies to thousands of its citizens.
But there are lakhs for whom this is still unaffordable — or who can think of an air trip only when combined with a journey by a cheaper mode. So far they have been denied the advantages of an Internet -based service.
Now three engineers in Bangalore, have come together to close this gap: Khushnood Naqvi, Kiran M.S., and Abhinit Kumar, all formerly employed at Infosys, recently launched a company, Ninety Degree Internet Software. Their flagship offering is an India-specific travel search engine — www.90di.com — which aggregates information from Indian Railways as well as all airlines in India. Most usefully , it allows travellers to create an itinerary based exclusively on train or air — or a combination of the two. The data base covers over 4000 Indian places — and the strength of the search facility lies in its ability to suggest all possible ways to get from here to there. Users can view various option, even call up a map to trace the rout. They can then ‘mix and match’ rail and air links and work out a combination that fits their purse.
In many respects the rail search facility is an improvement over anything offered by the Railways themselves and a few trials searches by this correspondent threw up many alternatives that would have been difficult to track down by reading the time tables. The site is also very useful if air services connect only part of the proposed trip: For example it will suggest the fastest connection from Delhi to Kottayam: by air to Kochi and then the best rail connection from there.
Mr. Naqvi, Ninety Degree’s Director, told The Hindu that the web resource does not do the booking — it lets the user finalise the itinerary and then provides links to the online booking facilities of the individual airlines. For train bookings the link leads to the IRCTC page which is India’s busiest e-commerce site. 90DI is a starkly simple-looking but feature-rich resource that will ease the hassles of travel planning for many of us.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Here's a piece from the Washington Post
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The European Union took a step recently that the U.S. Congress can't seem to muster the courage to take. By proposing a simple change in immigration policy, E.U. politicians served notice that they are serious about competing with the United States and Asia to attract the world's top talent to live, work and innovate in Europe. With Congress gridlocked on immigration, it's clear that the next Silicon Valley will not be in the United States.
European politicians face many of the same political pressures surrounding immigration as their U.S. counterparts, and they, too, are not immune to those pressures. Nationalist and anti-immigrant factions in several Western European countries have made political gains in recent elections and are widely viewed as mainstream. Despite the hot-button nature of immigration issues, though, E.U. politicians advanced the "Blue Card" proposal in late October.
The plan is designed to attract highly educated workers by creating a temporary but renewable two-year visa. A streamlined application process would allow qualified prospective workers to navigate the system and start working in high-need jobs within one to three months.
This contrasts starkly with the byzantine system in place in the United States, which increasingly threatens America's long-term competitiveness.
The United States relies primarily on two programs to augment its workforce with highly educated, highly skilled foreign professionals. The H-1B visa is a three-year temporary visa that can be renewed once. The employment-based (EB) green card is the program for permanent residency. Both programs serve the needs of U.S. employers seeking to fill job vacancies in highly skilled professions. Extreme shortages of visas in both these programs are well documented.
H-1B visas, which are capped at 85,000 per year, are now gone in one day, with the "winners" determined by lottery.
The EB green card program has an annual allotment of 140,000 visas; these are allocated equally across all countries around the world, regardless of population. The inflexible country quotas mean that professionals from countries such as China and India are almost always at a disadvantage, finding themselves stuck in a system -- often for five to 10 years -- in which they cannot seek promotions and raises. Spouses and children count against the quota, which has not been raised since 1990. And even though they count against the quota of foreign workers allowed to come here, spouses are inexplicably forbidden to work, no matter their level of education and skill.
The U.S. system forces thousands of valuable foreign-born professionals -- including badly needed researchers, scientists, teachers and engineers -- into legal and professional limbo for years. Not surprisingly, many are considering opportunities in competitor nations -- even those who have lived in the United States for years and have graduated from American universities.
To be competitive in the global economy, U.S. companies depend on specialized talent coming out of U.S. graduate schools. These scientists and engineers are often foreign-born, as more than half of U.S. engineering master's students and PhD recipients are international students. Yet America shuts the door on many of these highly educated graduates, forcing them to look abroad for opportunities -- and our competitors are capitalizing on our failed policies.
E.U. leaders recognize that the top minds coming out of universities in the United States and other countries can help to reinvigorate European industry and enable it to create the next wave of businesses that drive innovation and economic growth.
While its Blue Card proposal still requires approval by member countries, Europe has sent a message. It intends to aggressively pursue the professional talent necessary to compete on the global stage. The United States, on the other hand, seems intent on driving away the very same talent the European Union is rolling out the red carpet to welcome.
The writer is chairman of Intel Corp., which employs about 2,000 employees with H-1B visas among its 86,000 workers worldwide.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Intel Capital invests in Nirvanix
Intel Capital is the venture-capital division of the microprocessor giant Intel.
The company has now revealed that they have invested in Nirvanix.
Nirvanix is based in San Diego and offer scalable online storage solutions.
Intel did not reveal the amount they have invested in this company. They are expected to benefit from their Nirvanix Web Services.
Nirvanix Web Services provide third party developers with solutions to incorporate the online storage service in their applications.
Nirvanix has some other high profile investors including Mission Ventures, Valhalla Partners, and Windward Ventures.
Venture Beat Says
Nirvanix, a San Diego, Calif. storage startup, has received an investment for an amount in the “mid-single digit millions” from Intel Capital, according to the company’s CEO.
That follows an investment of $12 million two months ago, at which point the company said it had signed on 40 customers. Nirvanix directly competes with Amazon’s S3, a remote storage and delivery service for online applications like video.
For a point-by-point comparison of some features Nirvanix offers in its effort to differentiate itself from Amazon, check out the company’s own list, located here.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Menlo Park, California-based venture capital (VC) firm Canaan Partners hopes to invest at least 25% of its $650 million (Rs2,561 crore) eighth fund in India and Israel.
The firm, which has just closed the fund, will accelerate investment activities in India next year.
“We want to develop markets (outside the US) where we can exploit our expertise and get the biggest returns,” says John V. Balen, general partner, Canaan Partners. The VC firm, which has offices outside the US in India and Israel, had invested 10% of its previous fund of $450 million in these markets. Canaan Partners manages nearly $2.4 billion.
The larger fund size combined with an increased focus on investments outside the US, will lead to more investments in India, Balen added.
The firm does not have a dedicated India corpus, and has no plans of raising one in the near future either. Instead, Canaan prefers to invest out of its global corpus for all markets. To manage an increasing number of deals, Canaan will appoint another venture partner to its India investment team in January.
Alok Mittal, Canaan’s executive director who sold his jobs portal, Jobsahead.com, to
Monster.com in 2004, is tasked with handling all investments in India.
Canaan set up its India office in Gurgaon two years ago, a few months after it opened its Israel office in December 2005. Since then, the VC firm has invested in four companies in India and two in Israel.
Its India investments are in Consim Info Pvt. Ltd, which owns matrimonial site Bharatmatrimony.com, remote desktop support company iYogi Technical Services Pvt. Ltd, jobs referral portal TechTribe Networks Inc. and digital media company Cellcast Asia Holdings.
Canaan’s new fund, which would be invested over the next three years, will continue to focus on core sectors, such as consumer Internet and wireless technologies, enterprise and managed services, and health care.
About one-third of its deals will be in health care firms. Canaan will also look at clean technology deals globally. In India, however, health care and clean technology will not be key areas of focus. The firm has fully committed its seventh fund across 37 deals in the three markets. Unlike many of its Silicon Valley-based peers, Canaan does not have a presence in China. Instead, it plans to strengthen its investments in existing markets before exploring others. Canaan is also looking to tap the emerging “Indo-Israel corridor”. “We are beginning to exchange between the (two markets),” says Deepak Kamra, general partner, Canaan Partners. “Israel has expertise in wireless and software security technologies, which is applicable to India.”
Monday, December 17, 2007
The IAMAI-IMRB I-Cube report posits that, of an active user base of 32 million users in 30 cities in India, around 33 percent are Young Men, and 21 percent are College Students. In all, around 39 percent belong to the SEC A category, and 33 percent to the SEC B category. All in all, the percentage of users from SEC C towns has been gradually growing...but more than the numbers, I found the qualitative data more interesting: what do people use the Internet for? In order: E-mail, Information, Entertainment, Chat and E-commerce.