Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons has made a personal investment in online furniture company Urban Ladder.  The investment comes four months after the company raised Series B funding from Steadview Capital and existing investors SAIF Partners & Kalaari Capital.

The home decor and furniture space in not new to Ratan Tata. He is a design enthusiast and holds a degree in Architecture from Cornell University.

As per Ashish Goel, CEO & Co-founder, Urban Ladder:

Mr. Tata understands the furniture space very well, specially our focus on product design since he has a lot of knowledge of the subject. His inputs and guidance will be very valuable for us.

Mr. Tata’s decision to invest in Urban Ladder marks a milestone in the company’s two and a half year old journey.  We are extremely proud that Urban Ladder caught Mr. Tata’s attention. His investment in the company reassures us of the path we have taken towards creating value for customers with great products and exceptional service.

About Urban Ladder

Urban Ladder was launched in July 2012 by co-founders Ashish Goel & Rajiv Srivatsa with the aim of making a million beautiful Indian homes. It offers over 1000 products across 25 categories in furniture such as wardrobes, beds, sofas, dining tables and coffee tables.

The company has been on a massive growth path and aims to be the biggest furniture seller in India in the next 18 months. World-class product design and exceptional customer experience have been Urban Ladder’s key differentiators. The company is also focusing on using innovative technology to further elevate customer experience to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping.

Urban Ladder’s “Living Spaces” App

In the past, we had reported about UL’s Augmented Reality App “Living Spaces” & you can read about the same here

Important Read – Tata gearing up for e-commerce with management re-shuffle

How many of us have come across the problem “There was a conference/meetup but did not get any reminder for the same … I could have met lot of like-minded folks at the event :)” This problem statement gave birth to a Bengaluru based event discovery platform – EventsHigh

Today we have a chat with one of company’s co-founder Arvind Batra where he talks about EventsHigh, it’s founders, technology & Entrepreneurship. Let’s start our Q&A with Arvind…

EventsHigh

Can you give a small background about you, your start-up and it’s founders ?

Nikesh Garera & Arvind Batra are co-founders of EventsHigh.  EventsHigh is an event discovery platform that brings all events at one place & helps users to find relevant events based on their interests, location and availability. Nikesh & Arvind  have a strong background in machine learning and big data, they were part of the Kosmix team in Bay Area, that was later acquired and became WalmartLabs. They moved to Bengaluru couple of years back and have started EventsHigh recently.

Parag Sarda joined us recently. He brings in solid engineering experience with his previous work at Google, WalmartLabs and Microsoft. You can find more about Nikesh, Arvind & Parag here, here and here.

Every idea is born out of a problem, what was the trigger of starting EventsHigh ?

Nikesh & myself had missed Google I/O back to back which is a flagship Google event and its registrations sell out very fast. We got the seed that it would be nice to have a notification service that will remind users about events based on their interests. We did a hackathon at Techcrunch Disrupt SF to see our enthusiasm and since then we have been thinking about it.

How did your team come up with the name EventsHigh ?

Both Nikesh & myself are part of this group called Runners’ High and we like it. You experience a high after attending a great event, the whole experience stays with you for a long time. We wanted to share that feeling with everyone. Plus the fact that the domain EventsHigh was available 🙂

How does EventsHigh curate the information on various events happening in any city ?

We crawl various sources on the web to extract event data. Some sources such as Facebook and Eventbrite also have APIs that we use for sourcing events.

Currently how many cities in India does EventsHigh cater to  ?

We are live in seven cities – Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad.

Though it is too early to talk about revenue, but how does EH plan to make revenue [Revenue Model of EH] ?

The problem from event organizer’s perspective is how to promote their event. Our revenue streams will be in providing event outreach solutions to event organizers in terms of sponsored listings and advertisements. We will also be working on affiliate partnership with different ticketing sites and take a commission in ticket sales.

How does EventsHigh stack up against BookMyShow, IndianStage in terms of differentiation ?

In a given week, a city like Bengaluru has about 1000 events happening, but sites like BookMyShow or IndianStage cover only, at best, 50 of them. EventsHigh not only has lot more events but with our categorization and semantic technology, users can subscribe to events based on their interests such as hackathons or comedy shows etc. We want to provide ‘relevant’ events to you – based on your interests, near your locality.

What are the major changes that you experienced when you moved from an Employee to an Employer [or Entrepreneur]

The freedom to work on what I really want is something that I cherish a lot. The startup experience is pushing me to try out new roles every day and it is a great learning experience.

What are your key advice(s) to aspiring entrepreneurs ?

Just do it. Don’t over think it. But be patient and focused.

There is lot of hype around IoT, Big Data etc. what are your views on the same ?

Big data is a reality of our times. People are producing more data than ever before and big data solutions are efforts to manage them. The challenges posed by big data are fascinating and a lot of research is needed to match the scale of things to come.  IoT is a new frontier in innovation and it is very exciting based on early results.

What are your views about the start-up landscape in India ?

The ecosystem in Bengaluru is very good. We have got help from unexpected corners, people have been very forthcoming to give their feedback. The whole ecosystem is quite collaborative. This is a great time to pursue a startup in India.

Here is wishing EventsHigh team all the best & hope they reach “High” in their startup endeavors. Do give EventsHigh a spin & share your feedback in the comments section.

PayPal India has selected two new tech startups for its ‘Start Tank’ Incubation Center in Chennai. The winners — Clockwork Interviews Private Limited & Demach Software India Private Limited were chosen from among 11 other startups that presented their business pitch at the Start Tank Incubation Challenge final on October 31, 2014.

The selection was organized as part of PitchFest in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chennai.

The unique Incubation Challenge was launched in September 2014 across four cities in Tamil Nadu to identify & nurture some of the country’s next generation technology-centric startups. More than 60 applications were received for incubation at PayPal’s Start Tank Chennai.

As per Anupam Pahuja, General Manager, Technology – Asia-Pacific, PayPal

PayPal is proud to announce the selection of Demach Software & Clockwork Interviews for incubation at Start Tank, Chennai. As a company that was started by young entrepreneurs, PayPal recognizes the importance of encouraging the growth of tech startups and the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. We truly believe that the new incubatees will benefit from our technology mentorship and the obligation-free environment we provide at Start Tank.

Jayadev Mahalingam, co-founder of PiQube, a product of Clockwork Interviews, a Hiring Analytics company, said

We are eagerly looking forward to the technology and business mentorship support from PayPal & TiE, and we hope to make the most of this opportunity to fuel our business.

Srikrishnan Ganesan, co-founder of Demach Software, makers of Konotor, a user-engagement solution for mobile apps, said

The Start Tank Incubation Challenge gave us an opportunity to meet some very promising startups. The incubation, along with the world-class support from brand names like PayPal & TiE will certainly enable us to take our company to the next level. The timing is perfect for us as we expand our team and bring in new people into a dynamic environment.

PayPal’s Start Tank provides an obligation-free environment for select startups to evolve. The exclusive facility in PayPal’s Chennai development center has an office area of more than 11,000 square feet with a world-class incubation space, state-of-the-art conference rooms and other amenities.

Start Tank runs globally across PayPal offices in Boston, London and Chennai & provides access to global mentors, angel investors and venture capitalists. PayPal formally launched its Chennai startup incubator in association with TiE Chennai in November 2013 & currently hosts four startups: DoPartTime, Fantain, Hey FeedbackKobster

UrbanLadderLogo

Urban Ladder announced the launch of ‘Living Spaces’ – a one of its kind app in the on-line furniture segment. Living Spaces is a world class augmented reality app & a unique initiative to tie in Urban Ladder’s long term vision of providing best in class customer experience by integrating technology.

The Living Spaces app lets users virtually place multiple options of Urban Ladder[UL] sofas in their living space by using augmented reality.  Users can place life size models of UL sofas to visualize their entire living room & select multiple colour and seating options without having to involve any physical furniture.

The next version of the app will have additional notable features such as pulling in a silhouette and ambient lighting.

The app is conceptualized by the Urban Ladder team & developed in collaboration with WhodatHouse of Blue Beans, both Bangalore based tech startups. The user experience is designed after in-depth research on sofa buying patterns so that the flow of the app is seamless. The app aims at making the interactions natural & the sofa design takes into account imperfections of the real world like wrinkled cushions and fabric folding at the edges. All these details make the user experience real & help solve several customer pain points.

Urban Ladder had earlier introduced another innovative initiative called ‘Trial Room’ where one can experience different models of UL sofas from the comfort of their home.

As per Rajiv Srivatsa, COO & Co-Founder, Urban Ladder

Over the last year sofas have emerged as one of our best-selling categories. This confirms a strong demand for the category and the potential for it to grow. Initiatives such as Trial Room, and now the Living Spaces app aim at converting the apprehensive shopper into a confident and content one”.

We strongly believe that innovative technology is the solution to improve the ‘touch and feel gap’ in on-line furniture buying. We are proud that UL Labs is setting new benchmarks globally in the technology and e-commerce space. Living Spaces is another effort to stay true to our commitment of bringing innovative changes in the furniture industry globally, and we are proud to take technology to the world from India

Living Spaces is the second app to be launched in the UL Labs series after Urban Storage which focuses on wardrobes. ‘UL Labs’ is a collaborative outreach effort where teams from Urban Ladder will work with digital start-ups across the world to come up with pioneering solutions in various aspects of furniture buying.

Download Link

UL Living Spaces can be downloaded from Android Play-Store from here

For more information on ‘UL Living Spaces’, please visit the following link. Do give UL’s Living Spaces a spin & share your comments/feedback !!!

Few weeks back, we had reviewed startup in Vertical Search space – CollegeDunia that wants to make College search very easy !!!

There is news that CollegeDunia has received $162,787 [1 Crore] of angel investment from MIH-acquired automobile site Gaadi.com’s CEO Umang Kumar, along with a bunch of undisclosed investors.

The funds would be utilized for Marketing, Technology enhancement & Operations.

college-dunia

The company is planning to add data on 7,000 to 8,000 colleges in six months. In the long run, the site will also look at listing coaching institutes, polytechnic institutes and entrance exams details.

As per the Sahil Chalana, Founder/CEO of CollegeDunia; they plan to become the leader in “Vertical Search for Indian Colleges” or to be more precise, Zomato of the education industry. For more updates on the funding, please check YourStory, IamWire & VCCircle.

If you are student, do give Collegedunia a spin & share across your feedback & comments.

Image CreditYourStory

Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace, became the first in the industry to launch an app compatible with the Android wearable technology. The app will support viewing Flipkart wishlists on the wearable gear. Another significant feature with this update is that the app will now support push notifications from Flipkart on the gear.

This, however is possible only if users enable push notifications to be viewed via the gear. Possible future updates of the app include accessing order tracking related information, price drop notification & personalized offer notification.

Moto 360, which is back in stocks, was launched last month & Flipkart is now the exclusive retailer in India for three globally leading wearable technology brands – Garmin, Motorola and Martian. The latest version of this app will be compatible with all the three brands & will be the first app from India to be listed on the Android wearable technology store.

The current features available in the latest app are:

  • User Interface : Brand New User Interface and faster app
  • Happy Shopping : No Hassle Returns, 100% Buyer Protection
  • Choice of Payments : Cash on Delivery, Credit/Debit Card, EMI, NetBanking, PayZippy
  • Smarter Search : Look up products, categories or brands using text, voice or by barcode
  • Explore Your Way : Quickly switch between List, Grid and Full Screen views
  • Pinpoint Products : Find what you want with the sort and multi-filter functions
  • Never Miss an Offer : Get access to personalized and exclusive app-only deals
  • Personalized Alerts : Get notifications on personalized offers, price drops, order status & exclusive launches
  • Product Suggestions : Relevant recommendations based on your shopping history
  • Share with Friends : Suggest links to interesting products on Facebook, Twitter, Google+
  • Examine Closely : View products in great detail with the large, multi-perspective images
  • Do More with Images : Save images to your phone or instantly share them with friends
  • One-touch Wishlist : Add products to your Flipkart Wishlist with just one tap

To use the Flipkart wishlist on wearable devices, perform the following steps :

  1. Update the Flipkart application to the latest version from the app store
  2. Connect your wearable device to the phone
  3. Wishlist will automatically get installed on the wearable
  4. To download or review the app, please click here

In the past, we have reviewed many couponing websites & one more player that we plan to review today is ZoutonsZoutons*, a Delhi based startup is a coupons and deal aggregation platform with the tagline “The Loot is on”, helping online shoppers and deal hunters to locate latest coupons and offers from a vast pool of online retailers, banks & brands. It is an online player in the deal aggregation space to offer coupons and deals of top 50 Indian banks & more than 500 pan-India brands.

Zoutons

Store Coverage

Like other deal aggregation websites, Zoutons lists deals from major e-commerce companies namely Flipkart, Jabong, SnapDeal etc. It covers all major categories namely Apparels, Electronics, Baby products, Food etc.

Design

The overall design of the website is very simple & “Suggestion”/AJAX based search worked very well. Each store had two sections – Deals & Coupons though, for most of the stores; Deals out-numbered the Coupons by a big-margin. We tried couple of Coupons & they worked fine !!

Zoutons_Filter

Popular & Latest Coupons

The home page of Zoutons lists the latest as well as popular coupons. It would have been interesting if there would have been another section named “Coupons Fast Expiring” so that it would help in the last minute sale of those coupons/deals.

Also, the “Most Popular Coupons” section covers only 3 Shops; Back & Forth navigation would have been an added advantage & would have ensured that user covers more coupons rather than spending time in searching for those coupons.

Zoutons_Popular_StoresBank Specific Offers

Another “unique” feature which we liked during the review is “Bank Specific Offers”.  The site lists deals that are not specific to any particular store but deals offered by different banks. You can find one of the deals here. Though the number of banks being listed were handful, but considering that Zoutons is a startup; we expect that it would be work under progress 🙂

Improvement Areas

 
Design : As mentioned above in some cases, searching for coupons/deals took bit of an effort. Also, since it is the festival of lights[Diwali]; it would have been an add-on if the Home Page would be customized according to it.

About Us : When we checked the “About Us” section, there was no mention on the founders, their mantra etc. Considering that there are tons of couponing websites, “About Us” would have added a great level of credibility. Read about importance of “About Us” for startups here

Mobile App : Though Zoutons covered deals spanning different categories there was no mention of mobile app on the website. We are sure that development of Zoutons App might be in progress but still a new section “Coming Soon” where such announcements can be listed can add a new metric to measure their customer growth [Page similar to “Coming Soon”  Page]

While doing the review, we came across this interesting presentation on how “Brick & Mortar retailers are embracing Digital Couponing” [A market that can be explored by Couponing websites]

Do give Zoutons a spin & share your feedback in the comments section…

* – Sponsored

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Following the global launch of the Student Entrepreneurship Program of SAP University Alliances earlier this year, SAP introduced the initiative in India at the BMS College of Engineering [BMSCE] in Bangalore. The program encourages student entrepreneurs and early start-ups to use SAP’s technology platform to develop new applications and launch successful start-up ventures.

Under this program, it is expected that there will be development of new solutions across SAP’s platform technologies, leveraging on the company’s in-memory platform SAP HANA®, the SAP Mobile Platform & SAP Analytics capabilities. Through BMSCE and the Student Entrepreneurship Program, students of the institute will gain access to these technologies, SAP experts, mentors, and an entrepreneurship curriculum.”

As per Dr. Ravishankar, Dean, Placements, BMS College of Engineering

Blessed with smart students, a diligent and result oriented staff, the challenge for BMSCE is to nurture students to learn the art of delivering swift and accurate engineering solutions expected by the industry. With solutions and mentoring from SAP, our students are poised to learn and adapt themselves to the constantly changing scenarios posed by the industry

The SAP University Alliances program opens up the world of SAP to more than 1,800 universities in more than 80 countries worldwide, and aims to develop highly qualified graduates with critical skills for the 21st century workforce. Through a community of over 8,000 faculty members as well as engagement at over 750 events annually, SAP University Alliances has inspired students around the world about SAP.