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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

Roti, Kapda, Makan and Social Networking

Friday, July 18, 2008

Social Networking is a bad word in entrepreneur circles these days. There are so many of them and apart from the FB's, Orkut's of the world, the rest are not really going anywhere. Still we see more and of these coming up. So everyone asks the question, how many social networks do we need? Isn't one FB or Orkut enough for the whole world?

I think no. Its definitely not. And that is for a very simple reason. Fundamentally all these social networking sites connect people. They solve one of the biggest human needs, the need to connect with each other, socialize. A need surpassed only by maybe our need for food, clothing and housing.

There are hundreds of Social Networking sites. But you can still see people who are lonely, looking for a life partner, or a date or just a friend. If Orkut and FB are doing it right then why hasn't this problem been completely eradicated yet? Obviously there's still a lot to be done. And if one of the new sites are trying to attack this, there's nothing wrong with it. Maybe they have just created a better mousetrap.

Agreed that most of these startups are not doing anything innovative, its the same run of the mill stuff. But me too sites are a reality on the internet. For every successful site, there are 100 clones of it. The guys with the best product win in the end. That's fair.

Lemme go on and cite some some examples of niche's of social networking. I am drawing from my own experiences here, so please bear with me. A typical case is of dating. In Bangalore you have guys who come out of top notch Engineering colleges where the sex ratio is something like 80:20 (mine's was even worse). These are hot shot software dev's who wanna date and dont mind spending for it. In Bangalore you also have a huge call center crowd, a significant part of whom are single girls on the lookout.

Right now what these guys do is register on Shaadi.com and try and find a date. The have no intentions of marrying, but they do not have a choice. Orkut and FB dont solve their problem. How come Shaadi, which was never meant to solve this problem in the first place, ends up eating up this pie? Its a great market segment to target; young, mobile, with disposable income. And the addressable market is huge since the same case can be applied to any metro city in India!

Maybe this sounds lame. But think about it. These are segments that you can target. The hard part is finding a business model around them. It cant be that plain old model of premium plans. Something different, something innovative, something whacky! But I'm sure if you can get these folks hooked on to your site, you will make money somehow. Because these guys are not squeamish about spending on the net. Maybe you can even do a Beacon on them!

The most perplexing thing about the Indian Soc. Net scene is that the old models are still there; pay and contact the girl. Nobody has managed to challenge them. Maybe I am biased because I need to actually get on these sites soon to find a girl for myself, but it still sucks. I dont wanna pay! I am sure there are hundreds of people like me. If someone comes up with a matrimonial/dating site which does not have this business model, people would flock to it.

So there's my defense of Social Networking. There's still a huge unaddressed market. And I am sure that we'll see more of these social networking sites. That is a good thing in my view.
posted by Rajiv, 9:34 AM

5 Comments:

Way back in 2002, there was a Bangalore based company which was trying to solve this problem. Even had few US patents to their kitty. They had done some trial runs at Casa Picola, if I remember correctly ;) . They eventually ran out of cash.
Said Anonymous Puneeth, 12:18 AM  

interesting. might be a good time to take those patents and start working on it again. :)
Said Blogger Rajiv, 12:56 AM  

Yes good idea
Thats exactly what VoIP demands .
VoIP=Voice of Indian Population

Looks like someone is Stalking Rajiv . :)

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