Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Posts Tagged ‘idea

It was a world before the Amazon EC3 was available. Google needed servers and all they could lay their hands on were cheap and commodity hardware. In the true spirit of engineering, what came about was the solution of clustering all of them together to provide the same level of performance and efficiency that expensive servers were providing. It solved them a major issue, and gave them a leap ahead in a time when Amazon hadnt thought about providing web services yet. [Jump to See Image of Google’s First Server]

Fast forward to the present.

We have a world where gaming machines are more powerful that desktops and servers are. The marketing strategies of these two behemoths (Microsoft and Sony) are such that they are selling the machines at a loss and making up for the losses in the sale of games.

After the computing gods there be, launched the cell architecture processors in the game machines, they have also released them as computing platforms. IBM has them in the blade format, which costs close to $18,000.

IBM BladeCenter QS20 $18,995 (Dual Processor)

IBM BladeCentre QS21 $9,995.00 (Single)

Terrasoft, the company behind Yellow dog Linux, and Rapidmind have released a version of linux that can run on top of the PS3. That was last year.

I am sure there are some projects going on in this space. I did see a site sometime back which was dedicated to the work that was going on by clustering 70 nodes of Playstation 2 devices. But I havent heard, nor am familiar with any of the startups exploiting this opportunity.

There are two mammoth corporations who are subsiding hardware for a different strategy. You could essentially buy the same hardware at one 18th/9th the price, get free software which could convert it into a computing platform, and expand on that power. There will be some issues if you are using any extension cards like IP Telephony devices or so to run any of the services, but for companies which are purely focused on the web services part, having a cluster of such powerful machines might very well prove to be a long term strategy to keep costs down, and yet not compromise on the performance of your systems.

Plus think about it, when you are having a slowdown, you could very well pull out one of the machines and have a death match with your co-founder 🙂

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Do you know how much India spends on Advertisement budgeting at the moment? a Whopping 400 crores. Did you know that the Times Group makes a heck of a lot of money in their outdoor advertisement business? I am quoted numbers as high as 60% of all outdoor billboards in Mumbai belonging to the Times Group. And I am also hearing that there is plenty of prime locations near the new Bangalore airport that is bought by the Times Group to expand and make sure that this revenue stream doesn’t dry up anytime soon.

So if I may come to the point, advertisements and the ad market is quite huge. The good news, its nascent and has just started and will only grow to be bigger from here.

That said, we do have a small problem. I have friends who work with online portals and in running content who basically have this complaint: “We scrap content at times, simply because we don’t have a good supporting image to go with it”. Images are plenty and dime a dozen across the web. What they are talking about is an image that fits the context – the context here being, the audience, and the characters of the story being Indian.

Let me zero in on the issue: Have you seen all the billboards that are up there around the city? In every bill board, in every Spread of newspaper, in every online banner, in every pamphlet and brochure, in every marketing material that is used by corporates, in every image that the media uses – be it print, broadcast or for advertising, wherever there is a boy or gal to be presented there, be it contemporary, skimpily clad or in the next new saree model there is, all of them are commissioned photos. Which means, each of those pictures probably cost more than a pretty penny for the advertisers who are running it. Could we do it for cheap? We could, if there was a way to get stock images with Indian folks on them – something that is quite as rare as the tiger population.

There is a business opportunity for a team of artists, creative and enthusiastic photographers to put together a studio and create this portfolio and effectively tap the market, very similar to what Istockphoto did. Any takers?

I was thinking of this while I was sitting through a brainstorming meeting and there were heated debates on the monetization capabilities of local business search services such as what Google Local is doing.

Well, there are arguments for and against it and for one, I dont believe that vertical silos of the same information is going to help. Justdial has done a fabulous job (atleast more than most) in aggregating critical info and I came to know that they just shut down their shop in Chennai because they weren’t getting many calls they are apparently still going strong. I hear they are much bigger in Bangalore and Mumbai, but I do suspect that the percentage of floating population also contributes much towards the success and breaking point of these “local” services.

This idea is and probably will form a crucial element for the Mobile Caller ID service that I have been talking about. The basic concept is this: If you take all these mobile operators, all of them (vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, BSNL) all have their individual customer bases. What would it take to come up with a unified telephone directory that bridges all these networks so that people can look up numbers easily.

If such a directory is available, then it will also make sense and will make life a little easier when the Mobile Caller ID part kicks in, since it will only have to query a single database and find the identify of the caller and his name.

Yesterday friend and blogger Kiruba and I, met to discuss about some stuff that we have been mulling over. Eventually the conversation drifted over some of the “empires” people have built simply by using blogging as a platform. While on one end there are folks who are individual silos and building their own brand/authority, there are others who’ve taken simple concepts and just built an entire network – one example would be metroblogging itself.

If you think about it, its a fabulous and ridiculously simple concept. A group of guys come together and start writing about the city. Why? Because they are passionate about it. This is the crucial aspect. Its not because they want to get paid, but because they want to talk about whats happening in the city – as a perspective through their own eyes. I guess you could call it biased citizen journalism, but thats upto you. In any case, they become hugely successful and then figure if they can start other city chapters and eventually what becomes is what Metroblogging is right now. Huge, lots of bloggers, spanning across cities and across the world and the beauty of it all – no one gets paid. Talk about that!

It’s a very powerful concept if you look at it. People write because they are passionate about it. There is a limit on the number of writers per city (which i understand is because of a licensing term), and its a win win situation for everyone. The end result is a network that spans as wide as the globe.

One has gotta do something as big as that, even if its dreaming.

Now while we were discussing this, I was wondering if this can be replicated into something else. I have been lately keeping an eye on a few blogs that are written by college students and most of them are quite popular. I remember catching up with the blogs and site of my fellow classmates during university days, but we barely get time to say hello anymore. That’s another story. The truth is that, most college students do have an exciting and buzzing life and this is the moment in time when the same event usually goes through different perspectives.

Fact #1: College Student blogs are popular. Most of them.
Fact #2: There seems to be a definite demand and pull for narrations of what is happening in different colleges.

Now, put these two together and take the model of Metroblogging. Lets not go global, but focus on a city. I believe there are quite a few colleges in this city of Chennai itself. If we do get two bloggers from each of these colleges (a guy and a girl – both of them do see very different variations of the same thing) and eventually grow the team to about five or six per college with some rules (no usage of names, and no back biting another author), this could possibly become a nice and community platform to start with.

If you ask me if there is a business model to this, there definitely is one. But you are gonna have to meet me in person if you want to know that part.


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