At a macro level, ZoomIn.com is yet another site that provides storage for your photos and facilitates photo sharing and printing both online and offline. So, what is it that sets apart this start-up which made us take time off of our crazy schedules and write about them here on Startups.in/India especially after our very long hiatus?
Well to find out, let's
++ ZOOM IN ++ The first thing that impressed us about ZoomIn.com is its attractive UI (User Interface) and the slick "About Us" page. ;) But seriously, we do think they really have a done a good job at the UI. For a fact, Internet based start-ups have a come a long way in this aspect and its quite heartening to note the positive change. We score them 100/100 on this front.
Secondly, it is the market that they are going after and their well planned execution on top of it which seemed impressive. Home delivery of photos is nearly a $7 billion industry in US alone and looking at the ever growing NRI segment, India will catch up with US in terms of the market cap in less than 10 years. While their current primary target is the NRI audience, we don't see a reason why that would stop any one in India from using their services to avail the same benefits.
Undoubtedly, ZoomIn.com is aiming to be a pioneer in the growing market for online photo services in India with competitive pricing and innovative features and with with its current phased approach toward attracting new users and generating revenue, they might be on their way to spin the magic again.
What magic you ask? Well, it is the magic once successfully woven by their founder Srinivas aka Sunny Balijepalli, who earlier turned a simple idea into $350 million. Yes, he turned a simple idea into 350 mil dollars and no, there is no trick involved here. Read on..
Long story short, after obtaining his MS in Information Systems from Drexel University and while working at an Internet startup called Infonautics Corp during the late nineties, he quite couldn't understand why it is so hard to sell a used textbook (may be his MS textbooks ;) ) and at the same time get a good re-sale value.
So, after discussing it with Josh Kopelman who was back then a co-founder at Infonautics, they dreamed up and created Half.com in 1999, a fixed price online market connecting buyers and sellers of used books, movies and music which supposedly had the best of both Amazon.com and eBay.com i.e., the best of eBay's prices while retaining Amazon's amazing one-click shopping easiness.
Half.com was snapped up barely six months later by eBay.com and it is also rumored that even Amazon.com later cloned some of Half.com's features. No matter what, they ended up with a nice lil' $300 mil.
While that sounds easy, in fact it wasn't all that straightforward. At one point they were strapped for cash for 6 months and had to work out of one room. As with most other startups, especially the ones with no prior track record, they had a tough time as well getting anyone to work for them. But these things didn't deter them and they worked flat out and made things happen and went on to build a 350 million dollar company until it was acquired by eBay in Jul 2000. Point being the founder definitely has an ability to take a simple idea and take it all the way to success with perseverance. Case in point being the successful exit at Half.com
Fast forward to 2006, Sunny had new needs and once again wanted to find a solution. This time it is nothing to do with textbooks but he and his wife were blessed with their first baby in December of 2006 and was now looking for an easy way to share hundreds and thousands of pictures that he had taken of their new bundle of joy. He was not satisfied with whatever he found and once again wondered, why is it so hard to send pictures back home in India. Why is it cumbersome to send hard copies of photos and other gifts that could proudly be shown by his family members to their near and dear.
Now, having had a huge success at the age of 31 with Half.com and having ended up with more money than he possibly dreamed of and with absolutely no motivation to work for more money, Sunny could have simply settled with one of the options he found to share photos and move on with his life. However, having experienced an incredible adrenaline rush from his earlier entrepreneurial success he wanted to sincerely do something to bridge the gap between family and friends scattered across the globe by making it easy for all of them to instantly share pictures with one another.
So, he ventured out once again with an urge to help millions of Indians abroad and after doing some research on the digital-photo market and Internet usage among resident and non-resident Indians decided to create ZoomIn.com -- a service to make the photo sharing process for people like him and others easier.
Thus, with the launch of his new company aimed at catering to the needs of millions of fellow NRIs, he realized a dream and a need many such people still have wanted to be fulfilled. He not only realized his personal dream but through their ubiquitous service are now trying to bridge the gap between families, no matter how far and remote they might be.
Fast forward again to the current day and age, Sunny together with his co-founder Phiroz Havaldar who is a veteran of the photography industry hope to repeat the same magic with their new photo-sharing service called ZoomIn.com and we wish them all success.
By the way, just in case you are wondering how we came across them in the first place -- its through a free job posting from them for the role of a System Architect at their Mumbai location.
..and yeah here's an interesting tidbit -- did you know that these guys at ZoomIn.com had to pay just $3000 to snap the domain Zoom.in back in Nov 2006 at Sedo, a marketplace for buying and selling domains?