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May 12, 2007

Social Networking sites: The VC View

Alok Mittal of Canaan Partners and Avnish Bajaj of Matrix Partners India have triggered off an interesting discussion at VentureWoods on Social Networking start-ups in the Indian context.

Extract from Alok's post:
..some social networks will fly in India, IMHO. I believe these will be driven by specific tangible benefits, rather than being “hangouts”. I will afford a couple of examples. The first one is referral based recruitments. The Indian e-recruitment technology is 10 years old. Global sites like linkedin, simplyhired, jobster and so on have demonstrated how social networking can be tied into recruiting very effectively. The Indian model is going to be different from these, and I believe there is a significant market there.

...The second example that I would afford is networks for buying services (I am yet to see a good model around product ecommerce) — services are intangible, and often very fragmented. Think of hiring a printer for printing visiting cards. These selections are essentially social in nature, and I believe translating them to the web will be productive.

I am sure there are a lot more examples — social internet is waiting to be discovered in India. And like any other business, the customer is a good place to start from.

Extract from Avnish's comment:
4. What I don’t think works (FOR NOW) is pure SN style models which don’t have a “pull” element. Key is that this is based on current levels and type (non-broadband) of Internet penetration. This will change in 3-5 years

5. So key is to build “made for india” models rather than “me too” models like youtube and myspace. Key is to ask yourself the question as to why in an English speaking country, the global english site is not good enough already? Key example would be that Orkut is more successful in India than any of the Indian SN sites

6. It’s sites which don’t have this “India” filter that I don’t think will work. Having started Baazee and funded Seventymm, I am clearly not one to bag the “me too”’s without thinking - the question is whether the model needs and has a unique to India flavor

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.