Monday, June 15, 2009

The June Edition of Startup Saturday Bangalore

To say that it was a full house at the Startup Saturday Bangalore June Edition would be an understatement. The hall was filled to capacity. This was my first time attending this forum but I was not disappointed. The event turned out to be amazingly organized and informative.

The focus of this month was "e-Commerce and Internet businesses." Four companies in the online business presented their cases, business models, value proposition, and where they dream to take their business forward. A common thread between all these guys is their focus on consumers - all of them were primarily targeted at the B2C market - not surprising considering the huge potential of the Indian Internet population. At the end of these presentations was a small talk by Rajeev Goswami of Shore Consulting on "Marketing for Startups."

First to kick off the demo was Abhishek Kumar of The business is simple - provide the consumers a place to locate restaurants according to their preferences and book a table if they wish. On the other side, tie up with restaurants, bars, pubs, etc. and offer them technology and marketing solutions; and bring them online visibility. The idea is not new. A poll at the end of the presentation saw an equal raise of hands for both options of "Do you think this business will succeed or fail?"

Next to take the stage was the exuberant and highly energetic founder of - Aashish Solanki. He is also the founder of NetBrahma, a design production company based in Bangalore - he also happens to be a co-founder of, I heard. This young man was literally oozing energy all over the stage - his passion for his business was so clearly evident. An important trait VCs and investors look for I am sure. Moving on to his business, LetsOlla is a concept of online facilitated bartering, lending, sharing or give away of products/services. Though the idea is age-old, the execution and medium is what makes it fresh. Not to forget the beautiful minimalistic design of the product that we got to witness during the quick demo. I am not sure if I was impressed with LetsOlla but I sure was smitten by NetBrahma.

These two demos were followed by lightening presentations by AIOBazaar and WebDhaba. Lightening meaning quick ten minutes walk through of the business model. AIOBazaar (standing for All in One) is into online ordering of food items - groceries in general. AIOBazaar has tied up with various food marts including the big players like FoodWorld, Reliance, etc. - you get to shop online at the convenience of your home - and shop for items from multiple stores - and get them delivered at your doorstep. There are clearly other players in the market who are doing the exact same thing. Whether the business will sustain is a question only time can answer.

WebDhaba is again an online food ordering business - food from restaurants. Complete with menu and price details online, the value proposition of the business seems to be exactly that. Order what you want - at the price point you prefer (comparing restaurants)- and take your time while doing it. They are doing good business in Mangalore but are yet to attack the Bangalore market fully. The founder was wise enough to acknowledge that alliances and partnership with other companies in similar line might what make the difference to his business.

Rajeev Goswami is a 50+ old gentleman. He has held senior leadership positions at companies like IBM and CA. Right now, he is the CEO of Shore Consulting, a advisory company for Startups who are just reaching the operation stage. Their focus clearly is on offering marketing expertise to the startups. Like Aashish Solanki, Rajeev was a high voltage man too. The crowd was buzzing with excitement. A separate post on his presentation will follow.

The best part of the day turned out to be the last five minutes when the forum was opened upto the audience for a quick introduction of entrepreneurs/startups in the crowd (to facilitate the networking session that was to follow). Though people were initially hesitant to get up and identify themselves as an entrepreneur (there's always that hesitation I noticed!), soon they got going and we heard an eclectic mix of business services, products and consultancy pitches. For instance, the mention of an online saree shop caused mild amusement to ripple through the audience.

Startup Saturday Bangalore June Edition wrapped up around 2 PM after a round of networking for which I didn't stay back.

Lessons? High energy, motivation, passion, and solid business idea are some of the requirements that startups MUST meet. And I must start attending this event regularly.

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