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Living a dream

For VSS Mani, founder of Just Dial, the journey of starting this service, has been a memorable one.

tech reviews Updated: Mar 21, 2010 14:30 IST

For VSS Mani, founder of Just Dial, the journey of starting this service, has been a memorable one. The idea of Just Dial struck him when he was working with United Database, a directory service. He noticed people going through fine print in thick heavy books, to look for one small, yet important piece of information. “At that moment, it struck me that it would be more convenient if this information could be found over the phone,” he says.

Ahead of its time Just Dial started in 1989 and was then called ‘Ask Me’. The venture was ahead of its time. The telecom revolution had not ushered in as yet, and this coupled with other factors put severe roadblocks on the business. Mani exited the venture in 1992.

In 1994, Mani felt that the country was ready for his venture. “One of the first things I did, was to ensure that we had a very catchy and easy to recall number – which everybody will remember,” he says. He approached the general manager at Kandivli Exchange and explained the concept. He liked his concept and allocated the number of 888-8888.

The business started with borrowed furniture, rented PCs and a small musical chair-like-office with a capital base of just over Rs 50,000 and grew rapidly. Now, its services are accessible from 240 Indian cities on a single national number 69999999. They have offices in 10 major cities in India and employ more than 3000 associates. Their revenues are close to Rs 130 crore.
Helping hand

Mani feels that through Just Dial, he is making a considerable difference to society. “It makes us immensely happy that our enterprise touches the lives of millions of human beings by helping them locate the right source for their purchases at the right time.”

The venture acts as a facilitator between buyers and sellers and also assists people during emergencies by providing timely and potentially lifesaving information during times of distress. In the near future, there are also plans to go international. “We are starting off in North America on a toll free number 1-800-JustDial and then will soon spread to other parts of the world.” They will also be introducing a 24x7 personal assistant service termed Genie! Via this concept, you as a user can get all your queries and tasks resolved immediately just over a phone call. “I think entrepreneurs like me are not afraid to chase our dream! We combine passion with hard work that enables us to translate our dreams into reality.” he says.