Monthly Archives: April 2007

Cheap web development

One of my contacts at Linkedin asked a really good question. I was thinking about a business model related toit a few days ago. I wanted to share it with non-linkedin folks.

Question:

What would you like to see in a web development and web solution providing company, serving the web needs of individuals, home/ family businesses, small and medium sized businesses? What areas do you think current providers do not cater/ address or have problems with? Do you see a need of “Wal-Mart or Ikea” of web development services? What will be the problems or challenges of commoditizing “designing & development” part in such an approach?

I see a lot of turnkey solutions for web. All you have to do is upload them to your server, configure it a bit and you are good to go. However, these solutions do not work for people who do not understand what/how to FTP or what a server is.

I have come across people from really small business to a small-medium business who hire third party to handle their website. I think a cheap to mid level web developing company providing custom services would be a good option. As others said, there are too many “modules”, DIY tools floating around for people who know a bit about basic computers.

I have seen a lot of companies provide contractors for web development or on other hand you can hire freelancers from elance or odesk. I haven’t seen too many companies providing a complete small web development team for projects offshore. For instance a couple of web developers, a designer and a manager in India would provide lot of help to an upcoming startup in USA.

I think a small professionally managed team would help a lot of companies to either share burden with current projects or additional features/projects. The company could have 16 hours of development in a day.

The web dev company would hire web developers, designers and managers with web experience. Provide the employees with office, software, hardware and communication tools. The web developers should be junior to mid level with a few architect level mentors for these developers (say 1 architect for 5 small teams). The web dev company should make sure that their clients’ IP is secure and they should have well defined processes to get feedback from clients and to work fast on the issues reported.

I think a price somewhere around $4000 – $7000 per month should be good for a team of 2 developers (1 junior, another mid level), a part time designer and a manager who communicates with the client. I think this price should be good for both the web dev company and the company hiring the team.

College Classifieds

I heard a lot about college classified sites late last year. A few of them were dormitem, CollegeMedium and chegg. AFAIK Chegg is the leader in this niche. They got $2.2 Million funding in January 2007 and got a $500,000 funding in an earlier round.

I was looking at traffic stats for all these sites on Alexa (don’t have an alternate) and found all of them are pretty much flat. As expected, Chegg lead in the traffic but didn’t impress me that much. It seems like they started really great, but are going down fast. I don’t know if this is related to college schedules, spring break, etc. or simply traffic dropping due to various reasons like competitors (CL, Ebay).

I understand that students need a place to buy/sell cheap books and other stuff. I feel Chegg is easy and simple to use for a student. I am trying to understand why, with an existing market and good usability, these sites are unable to gain momentum?

I think a student does not want to get limited to a site. It is easier to pay and exchange books “locally” on the campus, but you lose the ability to search for cheaper books elsewhere. As a student, I used campusi to find cheap books. The best part of campusi or other similar sites is getting results from a lot of sellers and getting them sorted by price including shipping price in most cases. Most of the time constraints to get the book(s) within a week or so, but I still tried to get the book as cheap as I could. Some of the times I used to order books from Canadian sites or sellers living in East coast.

I think syndicating their data to sites like campusi would help these college classifieds to get an existing user base and an incentive for the sellers to post stuff on these sites. I noticed that dormitem is already syndicating their data to edgeio and Oodle, I think they need to do more than this, but they are on right path.

Syndicating data to Edgeio and Oodle is simple, as both of these sites are looking for this data. However, partnering with these aggregators would be hard as they thrive on afiliate income. Chegg (and others) need to provide some inentive to the aggregators.

Here is an interesting discussion (in comments). For those of you who didn’t know, Chegg tried (is trying?) another business model.

Free Matrimonial Vs Paid Matrimonial

Startupduniya has an article about Kijiji offering free matrimonial services in India. I agree with the author’s observations about the site’s current situation – bogus entries and sparsley populated site.

I think this service can be a disruption for the giant Indian matrimonial sites as some time in future. Marriage is not a simple affair in India. (I think) The people who use these matrimonial sites in India are looking for NRI brides and grooms and folks using these outside India look for a perfect match in India.

People looking for a match in or around their city generally find them through references or newspapers. This is a huge userbase, but not yet ready to go online to look for matrimonials. Kijiji (or someone else) will need to do a lot more to get these people use the “free” service. The userbase will grow organically as Indian Internet population grows. Adding “mobile” features will definetly help fueling this growth and perhaps revenue generation. Educating people offline, about this kind of service will also help.

I feel that whole Indian “online classifieds” segment needs a disruptor to make things easier for users. Kijiji is a good start but they (or someone else) needs to come up with ways to weed out the spam and fradulent postings to get hold of legit customers.

USA has Youtube, India has IndiaTube

Indiatube

It links to meraaindiatube.com, which atm is a fugly site.

I don’t know what’s up with major Indian sites claiming to be web 2.0 and stuff with real bad design. I am not just talking about the color scheme or design in general, but the whole usability aspect. Be it TOI, Rediff or naukri all of them have a bunch of popups, tons of banner ads and non-existent user driven design. I have heard from a lot of people living in India that it is hard to find a good designer there. Is finding good designers a big problem in India? Would love to hear what people know/believe.

Slideshare.net, a great product comes from a company Uzanto which has operations in India and USA. I really liked their simple design. Ofcourse their core audience is not Indians, but it seems like they have Indian designers working on the site.

Love slideshare’s server naming scheme :)