Interview with Shaliesh Mehta, Founder of OnYoMo

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Presenting our interview with Shailesh Mehta, founder of OnYoMo.
In this interview, Shailesh talks about OnYoMo’s future plans (in the wake of new competition emerging from biggies), discusses the challenges in local search space and shares his entrepreneurial tips.

If you have any questions for Shailesh, please leave them in the comments section.

[On OnYoMo]

The biggies have tied up with operators (Google -Airtel, MSN-Hutch),and even Nokia has recently announced it’s entry in the local search space. How do you plan to break the “access barrier”?
Nokia has tied up with infomedia to provide local search for india – we dont think currently any player provides true local search for india. It is essentially database search based on semantics and none of the local search options, except ours, is context sensitive. solutions like these have existed before..for instance, Reliance’s R-World has had “local search” for a long time. Take a look at the demo of the Nokia search (http://mobilesearch.nokia.com/A4252109?local_1 ) , and you’d know why people will opt for a search option such as owap.in on GPRS or onyomo.com on web rather than a Nokia provided local search option.

Moreover, I am not sure if the tie-ups you mentioned include local search too. Hopefully, the users will find all the reasons to break the access barrier!

In general, one of the major challenges in local search is that addresses in India are not structured? How do you guys plan to tackle this?
I’d say it doesnt matter that much. From user point of view, Indians are used to unstructured addresses, so the ones that our service provides would be no surprise to the users. From implementation point of view, it is again manageable.

Hw do you plan to monetize your products/services?
Only thing i can say is that at the end of the day, user delight is key. Once that is ensured consistently, other things fall into place. Our goal is to have maximum distribution and usage, and monetize that through various means in the future.

Please share some info on OnYoMo’s partnership with 92.7 FM.
Big 92.7 is a distribution partner. they wanted to be a carrier of the product to the end users while giving us visibility – we did that. its a nation wide deal we have with them..so whichever city they are present in, they’d publicize our service there.

What are the typical challenges you see in indexing the local businesses?Are you guys planning to go beyond partnering with yellow pages providers?
Challenges: Quality of core data, type of data, distribution, value added content.

Most important thing is to know what people really want and give them that. In local search, you might think people want this or that, but in reality, they might want something that is nothing to do with anything you thought earlier.
So it is important to know what consumers really want.. and thats not too easy!

To be able to do justice to the local search space, lot more needs to be done than just partnering etc. We do have coherent plans around that.

Please share some of the future products/services/partnerships that OnYoMo users should look forward to.
Only thing i can say is that users can expect to keep seeing products that make life easy. this is our commitment to our users. and we do these things in a channel agnostic way…so they’d be available on mobile/web/… there are a few innovative services lined up.

[One of the feature that OnYoMo has launched is search for cheapest airticke thru’ SMS (details here)]

[on Entrepreneurship]:

Please share your experiences of starting up in India.
It’s definitely not easy. There are 100s of operational issues, but the issues should not take away anyone’s steam.
Ideas are important, but even more important are market need, readiness and execution. It is difficult to dream-up 100% tech based startup. Most ideas require a good operations and execution side too – and thus a need for people/partners who can bring along related expertise.

I believe you are first time entrepreneur – please share some tips for entrepreneurs (on seeking VC money especially)
Couple of key things:

  • Get the right team. Unfortunately there is no sure shot recipe to know who is and who isn’t right for your team.
  • Assess if users really need what you are trying to make – talk to pretty much anybody and everybody to do so – if the need for your product is mild, then think again, but if people say I ALWAYS NEEDED SOMETHING LIKE THIS – forget everything and put all your time and effort into the first version of your idea.
  • Realize that what people need isn’t always something “cool” but something that delivers a needed service.
  • If you think you have the right people and the right team, investors will line up automatically. talk about your ideas in only generic terms.

tags: OnYoMo

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