Monthly Archives: March 2008

InfoBeanz: Free web-based platform for “digital signage”

Have you seen the TV screens at McDonalds or Inox that are showing advertisements? Have you ever wondered what exactly it takes to set up a system like this – in terms of software, hardware, and how much it costs?

Well, I don’t know the general answer to that question, but Pune-based company InfoBeanz is trying to ensure that people don’t need to ever find out. Because they have just released a web-based software platform for “digital signage” that that allows anybody to this using any old computer and monitor (or in a pinch, even an old TV screen will do). No software download is required. Just upload the content that needs to be shown on the screen to InfoBeanz website from a regular internet browser (Windows XP+ and IE6+ only). Then hookup the screen to any computer (windows or linux) that is running any browser (IE or firefox) and point it towards the InfoBeanz site. The InfoBeanz webpage will display ads (or whatever the customer wants) on the screen.

All of this is available to anybody free of cost. Basically, InfoBeanz is trying to democratize the process of digital signage. According to their press release:

Globally players in this segment are charging a hefty price for their digital signage solution and licenses.

InfoSignz plans to serve the largest and the smallest of the digital signage customers across the world and aims to break the entry barrier of cost and proprietary hardware.

So how does InfoBeanz plan to make any money out of this venture? The standard open source model. From their FAQ:

There are various revenue models that we will earn money from. One of them is advertisements on the network. Another is paid premium subscription services.

The paid service will have enhanced file, playlist and location management features. Apart from that, the paid service will also have enhanced interactivity features.

The paid service will also be able to connect to the inventory backend of the customer. Consider this:

What use is it to keep on selling something that is not in stock? I am frustrated when there is a display in a store selling a 27″ TV for $149.99 but when I make up my mind to buy (after much haggling with my wife) the item is out of stock. The marketer was successful in capturing the moment of truth, but the supply chain guy missed out because the two of them did not talk after every piece was sold. The marketer not only lost out on selling something that is not even available, he could have shown something else and lost out on selling something which was readily available. Double whammy!!
How nice would it be if the display stopped showing the promotion related to the television when the TV went out of stock? Wouldn’t it be even better if the display started promoting something that was in stock?

When all the other systems are interconnected and act intelligently, why should the digital display network be treated poorly?

(From the CEO’s blog)

In general, I think this announcement is very cool from a number of perspectives. It is a new and disruptive way to enter into a field dominated by expensive and proprietary solutions. It is a leap of faith to be able to release a free product and hope that you can figure out how to make money later. It is also technically challenging to be able to deliver on the promise of “no proprietary hardware and no installation of software required”. And finally, scaling to the demands of all the freeloaders who will want to use this service will also be a challenge. Pune-based animation studio is a Pune-based animation studio that has just launched with the intention of developing animated content (think flash-based movies like The Singhsons, a parody of The Simpsons), that will be distributed through websites they create, and also mobiles, iPhones etc.

Their first project is Dishoom 2008, about Amitabh Bachchan’s historic bid to become the first Prime Minister of the United States. (Yes, “Prime Minister”. Less competition that way.) This candidate stands for change, as seen from his blog post:

Like today, during my visit to the holy city of Toledo, I met a woman named Bertha.

She used to be a steel worker. Just a few hours ago, she stood in front of me with sorrow in her eyes and begged for change. I said, “Lady, that’s exactly why I am here. Change!”

She extended her Dunkin’ Donuts cup. I tried to refuse, but she kept shaking it. Finally, I reached into the cup and accepted her $2.10 contribution.

Badmash used to be a comic strip with an Amitabh fixation out of Berkeley a few years ago that was quite successful with over 200,000 visitors per week. Turns out that the same guys, Sandeep Sood and Nimesh Patel, are behind VC Keyur Patel who likes giving birth to new companies got the idea of converting some of their strip ideas into animated TV shows and shorts aimed for mobile phones. Thus was born And another 5 such animation properties are on the way, including some joint ventures with US studios.

Related news: Design and animation institute planned in Pune – JV with CCIV France.

Upcoming Events: Pune Bloggers Meet, VC Forum

Pune Bloggers Meet, March 15, 4pm

Indiblogger is arranging a bloggers meet in Pune (sponsored by Microsoft). To get an idea of what the meet is likely to be like, see reports of their previous blogger meets at Hyderabad and Bangalore.

So far, it appears that about 30 bloggers have confirmed attendance (although I suspect that the final number is likely to be higher). I know that a bunch of bloggers from Mumbai are coming down to Pune specially for this, and it appears that some are coming from Kolkatta and Bangalore too.

VC Circle Growth Capital Forum, Pune, April 4, 10:30 to 6

VC Circle is holding a day long event targeted towards the venture capital, capital investments and entrepreneural community. Basically, companies seeking funds to grow, and people with money who are willing to give it out.

VC Circle is a news website tracking India’s deal economy – venture capital, private equity, investment banking, mergers, acquisitions, corporate law, and entrepreneurship. VC Circle was founded in November 2005 by Sahad P V. a journalist with 10 years of experience in Business Today (Assistant Editor), India Today Group, Business Standard (staff writer).

A similar event in held in Bangalore in November 2007 attracted over 100 attendees. Speakers were mostly from the venture capital and growth capital investments communitiy. To see a list of speakers at that event see here. The speakers and other details for the Pune event haven’t been announced yet.

NIT & MIT beat VIT and IIT in Robocon India

Sorry, couldn’t resist that headline.

Robocon, India was conducted in MIT, Pune this weekend and Nirma Institute of Technology, Ahmedabad won the event with a team consisting of a “combination of students from mechanical, computers, electrical and other engineering streams”. MIT, Pune were the runners up. IIT Delhi and Vishwakarma Institute of Technology, Pune were the semi-finalists. It is pretty impressive that Pune had two teams in the top 4, considering that 38 teams from all over the country, including 5 IITs (K,B,M,D,G) had participated. The two finalists (NIT & MIT) will represent India in the International Robocon which is also being hosted by MIT, Pune this year from 29th August to 2nd September.

Since we are the hosts, the theme is also ours. The robots have to participate in a Dahi-Handi competition. Specifically:

Two (2) opposing teams a Red team and a Blue team will operate Manual machines and Autonomous machines and attempt to get at the pots of butter placed at a height and remove the large cube of Butter (Makhkhan) from the bowls.

A few of the machines would also attempt to “Steal” the Earthen Pots (Matkas) containing balls of Cheese (Paneer) being carried by the Young Girls (Gopis).

Points are earned when the Butter is removed from the Bowls placed at a height.

Points could also be earned when a Pot and/or Cheese is transferred to a Basket.

The team which picks up all the three butter cubes directly from the bowls and holds them in the air will be declared “GOVINDA” (the winner) and the game will be over.

If no team becomes “GOVINDA”, the team which accumulates more number of points within the specified time of three (3) minutes will be declared as the winner.

Samples of the Paneer, Makhkhan, and the Matkas have been sent to the participants in various countries. As far as I know, samples of Gopis have not been sent.

India has never won the International Robocon (actually International really means Asia and Oceania, and typically gets about 20 entries (which are in turn selected using local competitions in each country similar to Robocon India)). China won last year, and Vietnam has won it thrice in the 6 years that the competition has existed. Looks like winning will be tough this year too. For example, we selected our entries out of 38 teams, whereas Thailand selects out of 200 teams and Vietnam selects out of 300.

I first found the news here, and in ToI. Then did a bunch of digging on my own.

Fairchild Pune to design next generation MOSFETs and IGBTs

Fairchild Semiconductors recently opened a design center in Pune. According to their press release, this center:

will be responsible for designing and developing the company’s new generation of power MOSFETs and IGBT technology to support popular applications such as solar inverters, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), automotive, lighting and ballast applications.

The Indian R&D design center is staffed by expert electrical engineers with extensive design experience and a thorough understanding of the requirements for power designs, in particular low-voltage power. The Pune location was chosen due to its close proximity to several excellent colleges and educational institutions that focus on engineering, and it is home to diverse research institutions that supplement higher education. In addition, Pune has a very strong presence in the automobile sector.

CaptainPad: Automating restaurant order processing

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

— Mahatma Gandhi

Pune based brothers Abhay and Vijay Badhe appear to have taken this quote to heart. They got tired of the long delays in restaurants in getting tables, food and even the bills. So, instead of just whining about it, they went and built a business that sells solutions to restaurants that fixes the problem. Two years ago, they formed Wings iNet, with the intention of of providing “complete end-to-end solutions to hotel and restaurant industry through its innovative approach and use of the latest cutting edge technology”. Its first product is CaptainPad a wireless system that uses handheld devices for automating restaurant ordering systems.

CaptainPad workflow

In Pune restaurants like Rajwada, Green Park, who are now users of CaptainPad, gone are the days where waiter/captain takes order on a paper pad, physically takes it to billing counter and a kitchen. Now the captain carries a smart wireless touch pad device. The whole menu card is loaded in the CaptainPad device. Captain can now send the order from his device wirelessly to the kitchen and billing station. KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) and billing information will generate instantaneously. Captain need not go to anywhere.

Cooks see a printout of the order immediately after the order is taken. No delay. Also, the system automatically routes the appropriate orders to the appropriate cooks. Waiters also have devices which tell them which dishes to take where. When the customer wants the bill, the captain just clicks an icon on his screen and the bill is printed.

Sounds great in theory, but does it work in practice? I went to Green Park this weekend and to me it seemed that the processing was indeed faster. (But this could simply be a case of confirmation bias.) In any case, the owners/managers of the restaurant seem to be happy with the system. Processing is faster, customers are happier, and for those owners who have a GPRS cellphone, the complete information about the restaurant operations would be available on his mobile device, irrespective of the location. Restaurants are reporting that after the installation of the CaptainPad, the table recurrence ratio has also gone up – i.e. they serve more customers per table per day than earlier.

But what about the actual grunts who have to deal with the system – the captains and the waiters? I tried enticing one of them to complain about the system – to see if there were problems, and whether he preferred the older way of doing things. No dice. He was quite happy with the system.

For a large restaurant, this system appears to be a good investment at Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh depending on the number of captains which the restaurant has. No wonder Wings iNet is hoping to have a 100 customers by the end of the year. to expand to other cities launched last September and is already considered a major success.

Within seven months of going live, has emerged as the leading website in Pune, as regards jobseeker traffic emanating from Pune. The site is attracting more than 5,000 visitors daily with 10000 new jobseekers registering every month. It has on average 3,000 clients advertising 4,000 jobs monthly from entry-level to mid-management level for leading players in IT/ITES, manufacturing, automobile, retail and BFSI sectors.

Source: IndiaPRWire

MyJobsInPune is owned by Irish company SaonGroup which chose Pune as the location for its maiden venture into India because:

Pune is a fascinating city with great economic potential. It has attracted numerous Fortune 500 enterprises as well as many top-tier professionals who aspire to develop their careers in Pune. It is for these reasons that Pune was selected as the first city for Saongroup to launch in and we plan to invest up to €10m in the initial phase of expansion across India from our HQ in Pune. We strongly believe that India presents a huge opportunity for sustained growth in different sectors and a rapid growth in online recruitment.

Source: Leslie Buckley Chairman,

I just checked out MyJobsInPune’s home page and noticed that everyone from B.U. Bhandari Auto, to Goel Ganga Group have put up ads there. So it seems to have managed to rope in a quite eclectic mix of customers. On the other hand, I did not find ads from major software companies like Symantec, or Persistent, or even Infosys listed.

In any case, it is heartening to note that there are 1000s of web-savvy employers in Pune.

(Found this newsitem via AlooTechie.)

Pune IT salary hikes highest in country

IT Salaries in Pune increased by 20% over the last 12 months, compared to 12% for Bangalore and the country average of 14%. Bangalore continues to have the highest salary levels in the country, and I think is 12% higher than Pune (can’t say for sure, since the article is a little unclear). This according to a report released by management consulting firm Zinnov.

‘Though compensation in Bangalore continues to be the highest in the country, the dramatic wage increase in Pune can be attributed to high salaries offered by multinationals (mostly from the US) setting up captive centres in Maharashtra’s boom city,’ Zinnov CEO Pari Natarajan told IANS.

Source: IndiaPRWire. See also’s coverage.