Long before Google struck gold with its search engine that threw up advertisements and tips on local life, V S S Mani, an Indian entrepreneur had identified the latent need of people to seek information about places of travel, salons or popular restaurants in town.
That idea, which grew into Justdial, a local telephone-based information search service, with an initial promoter capital of only Rs 50,000 some 13 years back now has an annual turnover of Rs 91 crore. Eight robust call centres service about 200,000 calls everyday, and the service is now available on the Internet as well.
Now Mani wants to take the business overseas with a North American foray and aims for a Rs 130 crore turnover next year.
“The market there is not a volume market like India. We are bound to benefit by having a small share in the market,” he told Hindustan Times, adding the back-end for this could be handled out of India.
The company, which recently landed an investment of Rs 40 crore from respected Silicon Valley investor Sequoia, is also looking at possibilities of partnerships in Middle East and South East Asia.
The company is also considering a new paid service in India called ‘Justdial Genie-life made easy’, which will enable paid consumers for a monthly or annual fee, to have round-the-clock service for any information.
The company has invested in technology to aid customer queries, which these days are answered by a text message even before he or she can finish a call.
Mani said the arrival of 3G telephony will throw up opportunities as people access richer content on allocation, like video and pictures.