Microblogging
seems to be the rage these days, so I was looking at Indian
alternatives to Twitter, and I found Webaroo
Gupshup
(later I realized that I had already
received an invite but hadn’t paid attention to it).

Gupshup seems to hit the sweet spot in the Indian context because its
all about sms and mobile phones and
combines it with the web. For example, you can start your own group
and update your microblog via sms, and it’ll be automatically
forwarded (as sms) to all those who subscribe to your channel. The
posts are also available on a webpage. The added viral/social features
are the ability to conduct your own polls or quizzes and even ratings.

I signed up for Gupshup and created my own microblog located at
http://sms.webaroo.com/channels/Swaroop.

This got me thinking how people actually promote their microblog, and
it turns out that one of the important things is a widget on their
blog that points to the microblog, especially the Twitter badge.

So, I was looking for a widget for Gupshup as well but couldn’t find
one. Why not write one myself?

It seemed pretty easy to create it using Flex because Gupshup now has
RSS feeds. And just a hour and
half of tinkering got me to create this:

(more…)

The World’s First Midnight Marathon took place right here in Bangalore
on Saturday midnight. It was held in the area surrounding the iGate
office near ITPL.

Niara and myself had decided to run the
half-marathon. We didn’t even think about the full marathon because we
have had no preparation at all, and we were about to run the half
marathon just like that. Just the previous week, we both were facing
leg pains/injuries but that didn’t matter on the D-day.

Bangalore Midnight Marathon 016

The place had a festive atmosphere – with “dollu kunitha”, clowns on
stilts and even fire-eaters. There were bands playing in the main area
keeping people entertained when the run was going to start, they were
playing pretty good music although I wish they had better presentation
skills.

Bangalore Midnight Marathon 017
Bangalore Midnight Marathon 019
Bangalore Midnight Marathon 024
Bangalore Midnight Marathon 012

(more…)

Note: I no longer work with IonLab since Nov 12 of 2009.

The past couple of weeks has been a rollercoaster ride for
us and for ion.

Sales has been very good so far, but our observation is that people in
India are still hesitant to buy online from reasons such as credit
card security concerns (understandably so) to recently Paypal changing
their UI making it more difficult for the average person to understand
what to do. So, we started accepting offline payments and that has
worked out well.

What’s the response to ion? Simply amazing. I mean if you think about
it, it’s just a charger
(<marketing-pitch>and works really really
well</marketing-pitch>), and yet people are so appreciative and
supportive of what we are trying to do. The clincher is that it
solves a real problem. I’ve often heard the phrase “I just needed
something like this.”

As we say in our about page:

Moral of the story : “See a need, fill a need” — ‘Robots’ movie.

The three biggest points about “ion” (both the company and the
product) that people like are:

  1. We took the idea to execution. This alone amazes people. I still
    remember what Jace once said: “Ideas are
    cheap. Execution is everything.”

  2. The statement we make : “Made in India. Available only in India.”
    and “We are just Indians who want to make products for India.”
    Nothing much to be said here, except that we mean it and it’s not
    something we say lightly or say it for the sake of it. And no,
    we’re not going to rephrase it as “I’m just an Indian who wants to
    develop products in India for everyone in the World” as someone
    suggested.

  3. We have a very good finishing – the ion itself and the packaging
    looks very good and has a professional presentation. At the right
    price point.

Another aspect is how word-of-mouth has helped ion and we were banking
on that because we do not have a marketing budget other than the
posters we are giving to our friends to put up in their company notice
boards. Most people came to know about ion through emails, and it’s
surprising how effective email forwards are – the chain just keeps
going on and on, and many times my friends had come to know even
before I sent it to them because someone had already forwarded it!

Processing all the ion emails is both a chore and fun…

The worst mail we’ve got is:

first time in india single click orkut programs launching a
product,website,service etc. but dont have enough money to market
your product,service,website etc.

there are more than 3 crore registered resident indian on orkut out
of 8 crore indian internet user.noboby can question the potentional
of orkut.

orkut single click tools can help u to reach 3 crore indians at
cheapest price possible.

the features of orkut single click program are as follows:

1)Single click to scrap all your friends. 2)A Single click can
directly take u to a user’s scrap book or album 3)A single click
directly creates a topic in all the groups u have joined 4)A Single
click helps u to join a community. 5)IDEAL for people who
frequently use ORKUT,people who want to market their product.

Free stuff included : 1)orkut FAN FLOODing 2)DATABASE of 8 crore
email address 3)FREE orkut tweaks

i m gonna give this full package in a cd for 500 rs and shipping 50
Rs extra

plz call 098________(Editor’s Note: Full number not reproduced to
protect the guilty)

Some of the best mails we have received are:

I would like to congratulate all three of you for your New product – “ion |
power your music”. I wish you three develop more and more usable products for
all of us. I would like to buy it even though i don’t have any of the product
which needs usb charging.

and

If you are devising a marketing strategy for your company and this product, I
will be glad to offer any assistance. I have worked in pre-Sales Europe for
quite some time and my experience, given the remarkable nature of your product
may prove helpful.

and

I am a B.Tech-III Electronics student. Came to know about you through some
forward. I actually have few such ideas (related to electronics), but don’t
know how to commercialize them. Can you help me out? Though I can get placed
in some MNC easily, I am more interested in implementing my ideas.

I think this last mail was the best we’ve ever got. I’m starting to
believe what Vikram says that more and more of this generation are
thinking like this, and “want to do things for India”, and he/we mean
that in a non-political non-hyper-patriotic manner. It’s just that
simple “ness” in us.

And finally, some of the blogs that have written about us are:

All in all, there’s more work to be done, but so far so good. There’s
more to it behind the scenes, and perhaps I’ll write about it in
another post.

After a long wait, the Nandini Layout children sponsored by Yahoo! Bangalore Employees get their own school. And I’m so glad to see that the yahoo sense of humor and style remains:

Sign in as a friend to Yahoo!

Parikrma Nandini Layout school powered by Yahoo!

Many of these ideas were pitched in by Shivashankari, one of the most passionate yahoos I’ve ever seen:

Shivashankari painting the parikrma family tree

Note: More schools means a need for more volunteers, especially with the Summer Camp in progress. So, if you’re interested, do take a look at the Parikrma website.

My friend Abishek Nair and myself were
recently having a conversation over email where I kept prodding him
about what he’s going to do next. You see, being a Bangalorean, he’s
not a software engineer! He’s a vfx whiz. In normal English, that
means he’s one of those guys who creates the visual effects in ads or
movies that you might have seen. A couple of days after that email
exchange, Abishek calls me and says that he’s got a contract with a
Singapore company (with whom he had just finished a project) and was
going there to work on even more cooler stuff.

I was happy to hear that because I’ve seen some of his work and I
think he really is talented, all he needs is a platform to showcase
his skills, and this new gig should be a very good opportunity for
him.

We met up a couple of days before he took off, just to catch up. He
showed me some of his latest work and I was just blown away. You must
have seen the latest Limca ad on TV featuring Riya Sen…

He went on to explain the software that he uses and how “node-based”
software has shaked the vfx industry literally, thanks to the
popularity of Apple Shake, and so on. I was surprised at how much
painstaking effort is required to create these visual effects – we
take movies like King Kong for granted but the amount of work behind
the scenes is mind-boggling.

Coincidentally, Dad had recently bought a new Sony DCR-DVD 708E
handycam and I had brought it over to show it to Abishek… I got a
brainwave – why not make an interview? It need not be anything
professional, just something that happened. I think Kiruba’s
enthusiasm, while encouraging podcasters in a session at
BarCampBangalore3, had rubbed off on me.

And here I present to you – the first ever video that I’ve ever shot!
The best parts are the demos of Abishek’s works and his description of
how it was created.

Note 1: You can also download the
video

for offline viewing.

Note 2: The audio quality is a little faint in the beginning, but much
better after we switched off the fan :)

If you are interested to know more, you can write to Abishek – his
email address is abisheknair (at) gmail.com.