Name one site where you can search for Indian media content with very high relevant results without having to use complex search queries; one where you can also tag the results and share the playlists?
No, neither of Google, Yahoo, MSN would give you relevant results. Disagree? Go ahead. Try it out.
Let us suppose that you want to hear to "mein hu don" from the movie Don. Just click the hyperlinks above. Now let's try out the new star Sangeetix. What do you think? Super cool and smart, isn't it?
Of course, we didn't include "mp3" as part of our search query on the other three search engines but we haven't on Sangeetix either. But being a specialized vertical search engine that it is, it was smart enough to do so for us.
Interested to learn more about this new vertical search engine? We have it all below.
1. As we understand, Sangeetix.com is a search engine focused only on mining and playing Indian music. But for the benefit of our readers could you please elaborate on the need for such a specific search engine?
Sangeetix is a social search engine for Indian media content and podcasts. The Sangeetix search engine crawls the web for media content and indexes them; it then applies various relevance algorithms to identify India related media content. Sangeetix helps you find India related media content that you may not find at other popular sites like MusicIndiaOnline. For instance a user tagged a college band song at sangeetix.com/tag=collegesongs that other users can now discover. Sangeetix also allows users to tag their favorite songs and then plug them into their MySpace page, web page, or blogs.
2. We believe that there is a story behind the origin of every startup. Could you please share with us the motivation and the story behind Sangeetix.com?
Bollywood (and all its cousins) form one of the world's largest music industries. There are several college bands and DJs looking to bring their music to the masses. We believe that they do not have a platform to express themselves today or distribute their content. Sangeetix was born out of providing a medium for expressing your interests in music and for one to be able to discover new music, you may think of it as the 'long tail' of Indian music.
3. How different is Sangeetix.com's strategy from Naspter/Webjay? Is it legal? Why cannot one simply use a main stream search engine such as Google.com to dig mp3 or other music files? Do you have plans to target other forms of media as well?
Sangeetix is very different from Napster - while Napster was a site for swapping music between users, Sangeetix is a search engine like Google, Yahoo etc. Sangeetix crawls the web and indexes the content; Sangeetix, however, does not store or serve any content from it's own servers. The idea behind Sangeetix is similar to WebJay (which Yahoo acquired), we intend to make a community out of folks who love Indian music and give them a platform to express themselves. Sangeetix is legal just like WebJay or Google is legal; we are a search engine and not a site to host media.
While one could always use Google.com to search for music content, the relevance and search experience with Sangeetix is better since it is a vertical focused search engine. We do plan to extend the search capabilities to podcasts and India related videos on the web. We also plan to have more social features to build the Sangeetix community.
4. We understand that Sangeetix.com is just launched? But would it be possible to tell us how well was it received so far? We're not sure if number of queries is an accurate metric but how many queries is it serving per day? Do you see a gradual increase? Any significant achievements?
Sangeetix launched on 12th Oct 2006. We have had a tremendous response from users. We are getting a large number of page views from users across many countries and we now have over 500 registered users within the first two weeks of launch.
We are following a release early, release often model - so we have launched our site and our actively collecting feedback to improve the product.
5. Could you tell us more about yourself, your position & other key players/stake holders, if any? What were you all doing before starting this company & also your previous work experiences?
We are a team of 3 technologists; two of us are based in USA while one is in India. We have experience in building large scale distributed systems and search engines prior to founding Sangeetix. Each one of us has worked for over 8 years in the industry and has had some experience doing our own consulting practices.
6. How is your startup being funded so far? Did you receive any other external funding? If not, do you plan on seeking external funding?
We have pitched in money to bootstrap Sangeetix and have not taken any external funding so far. We do see a lot of potential for growth and plan to approach angel investors who are interested in investing in consumer facing products.
7. Few of our readers indicated interest in learning how to go about taking an idea from concept to inception. So, could you please share with us your experiences? For example, did you encounter any initial hiccups while pitching the idea? Could you please explain the process you followed that might help other future entrepreneurs planning to startup?
After we had the initial concept, we tried to quickly prototype something and get some feedback. We ran our prototype across potential users and collected some very useful feedback. This helped us refine our ideas. These days, with a lot of open source technologies available, it is very easy to go from concept to reality. However, building a product and a community takes a much longer time. We have tried to build an active community of our users and we listen to them for feedback and suggestions.
8. What are the key technologies Sangeetix.com is built upon and why did you opt for them?
Sangeetix is built on a distributed crawler that mines the web for media related content and extracts metadata from it. Sangeetix also employs Indian language related relevance algorithms to improve search quality.
9. Where do you plan to take Sangeetix.com going forward?
As I alluded to earlier, we plan to make Sangeetix into a social engine for music lovers to express themselves.
10. What is your business/revenue model or do you have an exit strategy on mind?
We have a few business models in mind besides advertising revenue, but it would be too early to reveal them. We will be looking at partnering with some content publishers and providing a channel for distributing content once we have a larger user base.
11. What are some of the challenges in the search engine business/services and how do you plan on tackling them?
Relevance for transliterated Indian content is a challenge since you do not get exact matches. We are developing technology to get better relevance.
12. In your experience, what has been the most effective way to market a service? Also, what do you think would act as a catalyst to drive startups (especially in India) towards success?
We are relying on organic word of mouth marketing and avoiding other campaigns like advertisements. Allowing our users to embed their tags in their own pages and blogs, helps spread the word.
13. What is your take on increasing number of startups in India?
We are in very interesting times here in India; we have a mobile revolution, better broadband penetration and more disposable income with our middle classes. The combination of these factors is driving Indian consumers to demand more applications. We are seeing increasing number of product startups which has been a welcome change from the IT outsourcing companies. Looks like India is moving up in the value chain and businesses are investing in product innovation for the domestic and international markets - example Zoho writer, Tejas Networks and InstaColl.
14. Do you have any personal advice/suggestions for current/future entrepreneurs?
India ranks 4th in online internet population, however, the broadband penetration is just 3-4%. The broadband penetration is going to increase with several government initiatives and internet access becoming cheaper. India thus offers a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs.
Some of the most successful internet startups in India are those that have taken a concept from the US or world market and have adapted it to India. Example - Ebay (Baazee), Match.com (Shaadi.com), Orbitz ( Makemytrip.com ), Monster (naukri.com) etc. It seems a viable strategy would be to do concept arbitrage - take a successful business that targets a healthy market and adapt it to India . There is a need for a social network for this market, a search engine targeting local content, ad networks that target small mom and pop stores in India, an equivalent of Indeed.com and simplyhired etc. The opportunity and market is right for entrepreneurs to bring several successful services to India.
15. On a personal front, who is your role model? Also, which websites do you read often?
I am fascinated by the way Larry and Sergey have built Google and the way they encourage innovation at the grass-roots level. I am an avid reader of blogs and I get most of my news from them. I regularly read Gigaom and Techcrunch to keep in touch with Web2.0; Sramana Mitra and Rajesh Jain (no relation) write very well on the mobile revolution in India.
16. How did being an entrepreneur affect your lifestyle? Do you get enough time for yourself/family?
I try to maintain a balance between my personal and professional activities. An early stage startup takes up a lot of time, but I have support from my family. I am trying to juggle several balls, and the one that I can't afford to drop is my family. Once you keep that in mind, things become a lot easier.
17. Our final question, one thing that you love the most?
My family - and the support that they have extended to me.
Sangeetix - We think it's gonna be a hit or should we rather say get many hits.