Searching for a Vietnamese restaurant or a shoe shop in Mumbai’s western suburbs or in Bangalore? Ignore the yellow pages.
Localised online search is emerging as a hot area for Indian companies like Asklaila, Burrp and Webaroo. They aim to give serious competition to the likes of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.
In November 2006, Shriram Adukoori, the ex-country head of Microsoft Network India and South Asia and former Microsoft employee Kiran Konduri, founders of Asklaila.com, wanted to search for an ‘open air’ restaurant in Bangalore. They failed.
Thus germinated an idea which has received $12 million (Rs 47.7 crore) in venture funds from Lightspeed Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank and Matrix Partners India, who have also invested in Apple Computer.
“Theme-based, localised search is the way forward,” said Mahesh Murthy, CEO, Pinstorm technologies.
Indian companies insist that even Google has a long way to go when it comes to localised search. An estimated billion searches are done in India daily, out of which more than 20 per cent are local.
“Even now, on an average only five out of 11 searches show the right result,” said Adukoorie. “Also, searches show results in a global and not local context,” said Konduri. Companies say that the youth prefer the Internet to yellow pages.
But there are challenges. Asklaila offers search only in Bangalore and other players have presence in select metros. “Search has to be built on scale and this is where Google is ahead of everybody,” said Rohit Agarwal, CEO, Techtribe. Asklaila plans to launch a search facility in Mumbai by the year-end and will roll out in other cities gradually.